My cell phone chirps to announce a text message. The print on the little screen is big enough to read, but when I try to type back a message, my troubles begin. Never mind that I’m all thumbs typing with my thumbs and that I’m stymied by the irrepressible need to text using proper spelling and punctuation. The biggest issue is that I can’t see the tiny, light purple characters on the maroony-purple keypad on my new smart phone (not the smartest color choice, in retrospect, but like everyone else, I wanted my phone to be stylish). Grabbing my purse, I rummage for my drugstore reading glasses. Where the heck are they? At this point the person who texted gives up on a written reply and phones instead.
Getting older is inevitable, but until recently there weren’t too many obvious signs in my aging body. I still have few enough gray hairs that my kids search my scalp and pull them out one by one. So far the wrinkle situation isn’t too bad. And I’m in better physical condition now than I was 5 years ago. But my vision doesn’t lie about my age. My arms get a little longer every day as I stretch them to try to read fine print. I wear contact lenses to correct my severe myopia and have several pairs of readers all over the house or in the bottom of bags and purses—never around when I need them. My optometrist gave me samples of progressive contact lenses. I tried them out at a choir rehearsal, but looking back and forth between the tiny notes and my director’s subtle cues made me dizzy and seasick.
I refuse to wear reading glasses on a chain around my neck. When I was a 20-something graduate student, we gave my advisor a package of gifts on his 40th birthday to help him ease into old age (we thought 40 was old???). We laughed hysterically as he opened a pair of reading glasses with a chain to go around his neck. Looking back, I really don’t understand what was so funny. What I need are glasses that I can wear as a headband when not in use, with no nosepieces to get tangled in my hair. The only ones I found that really worked this way, though, were sort of 80’s style Devo glasses—way too weird. My husband gave me a lovely, wire-framed pair of readers as a joke a few years ago. These worked well until I wore them as part of my Professor McGonagall costume last Halloween. Now every time I wear them I feel like a Hogwarts witch.
I’ve never thought of cosmetic surgery, and never considered laser surgery to correct my severe myopia. But as I write this document with magnified type on my computer screen, I fantasize about a permanent fix that wouldn’t require juggling extra glasses and other corrective gear. Maybe when there are more of us around who need big print, smart phones with giant keypads will be all the rage.