I’ve been wearing reading glasses (a.k.a. “cheaters”) for about 20 years now.
It’s not a big deal, and despite having a pair in virtually every room in my house and occasionally searching everywhere for that “lost” pair only to find them perched atop my increasingly absent-minded head, there aren’t a lot of drawbacks. They’re not expensive, they work well, and I can see to be able to do things like write long, rambling, seemingly pointless blogs. (Emphasis on “seemingly.”)
A couple of months ago, the vision in my right eye got a little blurrier than it had been, so I made an appointment to see an eye doctor thinking I’d probably just end up with some eyedrops and maybe have to go to prescription glasses after all these years of what has essentially been pretty normal vision. No worries, right?
The eye doctor took one look inside my right eye and said I had something going on in there that was above his pay grade. A subsequent trip to the ophthalmologist confirmed that I had experienced Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) in my right eye. BRVO is not curable with eyedrops and prescription lenses. Technically, it is “a blockage of one or more branches of the central retinal vein, which runs through the optic nerve.” That means things kind of blow up, swell up, and mess up in the back part of the eye where that whole “seeing” thing takes place.
It is not curable.
But, praise the LORD!, it is treatable!
In the 700 years since eyeglasses were first invented, modern medical science has come up with medicine which can reduce the swelling and greatly improve one’s vision. HALLELUJAH!
The medicine is delivered directly into the interior of the eyeball with a needle. Yes, that means they poke an actual needle in your eye.
You may have noticed that there was not an all-caps HALLELUJAH! behind that last sentence. Of course not. No one in their right mind would actually want a needle stuck in their eye. There is no marketing campaign in the world that could make that sound like fun –but it works!
When I was first tested, the vision in my left eye was 20/20 (normal) while the right eye tested at 20/1500. That’s not legally blind (Oh, I asked.) but it’s really, really bad.
One month after that first injection, my right eye tested at 20/60. And, after three months and testing a different drug, it’s now at 20/30. Now that’s a HALLELUJAH moment!
While my vision is greatly improved, there is still some distortion in my right eye which causes things in the center of my vision to look “pinched” or narrowed somewhat, but the brain is an amazing work of God. Somehow, when I have both eyes open, my brain knows that the picture my left eye is seeing is more correct than the picture my right eye is seeing and corrects for it. That’s why I barely noticed it when the right eye went completely haywire. Unless I closed my left eye, it was hard to tell the right eye even had a problem. As the vision in my right eye gets better, my brain occasionally swaps in some distorted info and things look funny, but closing my right eye and letting the left eye carry the load for a little while seems to reset the master control and all goes back to normal.
That is, until I was cleaning fish this weekend.
My brother and I have been catching fish together for many, many years and we particularly enjoy catching and eating northern pike. Properly cleaned northern pike are excellent table fare, but it requires removal of the “Y” bones. Done properly, it’s not that difficult and the result is more than worth the extra effort and precision required.
We were blessed to have caught enough northern pike this past weekend for a much-anticipated feast. It had been a beautiful, sunny day out on the water, I’d enjoyed some much longed-for comradery with my brother, and some fried fish sure sounded good at the end of the day.
But, as I began wielding the filet knife to remove those “Y” bones, I noticed it was much more difficult with the change in my vision. I started to get downcast as I worked, thinking that a skill that had taken many years of practice was so quickly lost. I began to mentally assure myself that it wasn’t the end of the world, that aging is a normal process, and I could still do a good job if I were to just go a little slower, pay a little more attention, and use my sense of touch a little more to make up for what I had lost in vision. “Suck it up, Buttercup. Be a grown-up and deal with it,” I told myself.
In the end, the stack of filets was done and I was fairly certain that I had done a reasonably good job. I was mentally preparing a speech to warn my brother that there might be one or two stray bones in those filets when I reached up to take my cheaters off…
..and discovered that I had been wearing my sunglasses the whole time I had been cleaning the fish.
And suddenly, I was internally embarrassed that my soul had immediately picked the worst case scenario when things weren’t going the way I wanted. I had imagined a future for myself based on a scenario I had constructed out of my own fears.
The biggest challenge I face every day is not coping with the effects of aging or the bone-headedness of remembering which glasses I’m wearing –it’s training my soul to live in the truth of who I really am. I am a child of the One True King. I am loved and blessed far, far more than I have ever earned or deserved. He has given me a rich life, a life to the full with joy beyond measure and peace beyond understanding.
And the apex of that joy and peace is being able to clearly see, with both eyes open, that sometimes the most appropriate response in the world is to laugh at myself.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (ESV)