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Glasses-phobic Danielle Hine finally gets some per-specs-tive (boom boom!) and finds life through a lens is way better than she imagined
The urges started in earnest last autumn when I saw Richard Madden in TV’s Bodyguard. Not that type of urge (well, maybe a little). It was actually an overwhelming desire, for once, to be able to watch a gripping TV show without the on-screen action being as blurry as if I’d rubbed Vaseline on my eyeballs. I wondered if this signalled a need for *whispers* glasses? I thought back to some recent, vision-related fails. There was the night I arrived at a pub to watch a band and couldn’t find my friends until, mid-song, the lead singer shouted, ‘Oi, Blondie, your mates are over here!’ They’d been waving to me for half the gig. I flag down every bus, because I can’t see the number. New acquaintances assume I’m rude – if you’re not close enough to air kiss, I can’t see you (I nearly missed interviewing Colin Firth at the BAFTAs a while back for this very reason). Dare I even mention the time I thought a Banksy ‘cashpoint’ was real? So, for the sake of Richard Madden (and, yes, everything else above), I realised that things had to change…
The Monday after my Big Realisation, I step into the tranquil environment of my local Boots Opticians. This is where I confess that I do have glasses: an unstylish, ill-fitting pair from a cheap website. They’re OK for watching telly because they improve my distance vision. However, I always read in front of the TV (weird, I know!) and my close-up vision’s fine, so when I look down at a book, magazine or my phone, I feel dizzy. I wear those glasses as often as Kim K dons baggy clothes – i.e. never.
My other specs-phobic concerns? I worry they’ll make my eyes lazy and my sight worse; that the lenses will magnify the bags and lines under my eyes; and that they’ll be expensive. I’d rather buy shoes. I explain all this to Chrissie, the optical consultant who, before taking me to the optician, does some tests on my eyes. These include a digital retinal photograph, which shows the back of my eyes, and tests to check if I’m long- or short-sighted, or if I have any blind spots in my peripheral vision.
I wear my old unstylish, ill-fitting glasses as often as Kim K dons baggy clothes
She explains that my brain has become used to seeing things in a certain way (er, blurry!), so wearing specs might ‘train’ my eyes to see things more clearly. I’m relieved when she tells me that lenses now are really hi-tech, so contrary to what I thought, my eyes and any facial flaws won’t be magnified. As for the cost: once I’ve invested, I’ll only need new lenses if my prescription changes, and can keep the frames if I want to.
I’m slightly reassured, but there’s still my long-distance vs close-up conundrum. There might be an unex-specs-ted (sorry!) solution, though…
‘I think you should try varifocals,’ says the optician, Anita, as I tell her about my TV viewing/reading challenge. Horrified, I try not to shriek, ‘But I’ll look like a 1970s Ronnie Corbett!’ Seeing my dismay, Anita rushes to reassure me. ‘They’re very different to the ones from years ago, which had a line across the middle of the lenses,’ she says. ‘No one would even know you have them. And they’ll definitely solve your problem.’ Food for thought.
She then checks the retinal pictures that were taken earlier for signs of eye issues, as well as health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. All clear: phew! Then there are various vision tests – it turns out that my close-up sight is still great, but distance is a bit rubbish. I’m very definitely short-sighted. I should never drive without specs (luckily, I don’t anyway), but I don’t need glasses all day, every day.
Although I’m dying to get into a frame-trying frenzy, I ask Manfred – the dispensing optician and my ‘personal shopper’ for the day – to talk me through varifocal lenses. Mine would have three different zones: distance vision at the top; intermediate in the middle (for computer use at work) and the bottom for close-up. I choose Boots Platinum Plus lenses (which cost £210† on top of the frames’ price), which are configured for my frame and eye measurements. Standard varifocal lenses are also available (£50†), but as I’m still a little wobbly, I feel it’s best to go hi-tech.
Then comes my favourite part: trying on a fabulous array of designer names, such as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Jimmy Choo. It quickly becomes obvious that dark, heavy frames look like they’re wearing me, so we search for a squarish style with a softer curve at the top and bottom. Then I spy The Ones. A light tortoiseshell design by Michael Kors (MK 4030 Vivianna II 3106, £230†; check them out in my photo on the previous page) hits all my sweet spots – skin tone, hair colour, face shape – and they fit well on the bridge of my nose. Manfred takes some measurements, such as how high my pupils sit, to ensure the zones in the varifocals will work for me, and sends them off to be made. One week later they arrive. I’ve officially been framed.
Snuggled up in bed, I happily watch (a crystal-clear) Mr Madden while scrolling through social media on my phone. I was a bit worried about adapting to my new specs, but the lens graduation from distance vision to reading vision is so spot on, I barely have to change the position of my head. Since then, I’ve flagged down the right bus every night. I’ve never lost my friends, nor been lost myself (the joy of being able to see street signs!). As for my vanity? With comments like: ‘They look so good on you, I barely notice you’re wearing them!’ and ‘The lenses are so subtle, you can hardly see them’, I think we’re going to live happily ever after.
*Available in selected stores. Prices include frames and scratch-resistant, single-vision lenses. Varifocal lenses start at £50. Book an eye test at boots.com/book