I went to the eye doctor last week in order to make one last effort at seeing better with contact lenses. I have worn contact lenses to correct my vision since I was a young teenager, many moons ago, but as my mid forties passed before my eyes (pun intended) I began needing a little help seeing the written word–print on the pages could only be seen clearly at arms length and in good lighting situations.
A short-lived solution proved to be mono-vision contact lenses, wearing one contact to correct nearsightedness and one contact to correct farsightedness, and while I had initial success with mono-vision, I progressively began losing more vision than could be corrected by that means. Most troubling was the loss of my mid-vision, a scary prospect for someone who relies on lip/speech reading in order to hear. I found myself getting up in people’s faces, close enough that their lips were not blurry, which resulted in a backing away from me as I advanced closer. I am sure there were those who thought it possible that I had a lip fetish, since it seemed I was only interested in their lips. LOL They would not have been too far off the mark, as my depleted vision made lips and speech the main focus of my sight. I concentrated so hard at achieving the optimum distance and getting what the person was saying, I often lost the context and content of what they were saying. This was not working anymore!!
In moving to a different state, two years ago, I was forced to find a new eye doctor. I hoped I would find a doctor who could correct my multi-vision needs with contacts, but the bifocal lenses this new doctor prescribed still left me with unclear gaps in my vision. The bifocal eyeglasses were a better solution, so I gave up on contact lenses after weeks of trial, as my eye doctor made weekly adjustments to hone in on a good prescription, without much luck. It was a very similar experience to the unsuccessful hearing aid trials I have endured over my adult life.
I continued to miss wearing contact lenses (you can’t snorkel in eyeglasses) and the better vision they provide over eyeglasses, and decided to switch doctors, again, hoping a new perspective might yield better results. I related my contact wearing history to this second, new doctor, explaining the problems I was having with my vision as it related to contact lenses, and stating what I hoped he could do for me. Of course, as with most new meetings, the first thing I let the doctor know was that I needed to see him speak in order to hear him.
Through the course of the exam, my new doctor “got” how difficult it is for me to hear without my glasses. I could almost physically see the realization of the “see to hear” concept sinking into his brain as he examined my eyes in the low light setting of his exam room. Suddenly, he abruptly stopped his exam, turned the light on, handed me my glasses, and ask me to give him my hearing history. As I spoke, he further “got” the fact that what I see affects what I hear and, in turn, what I understand. Again, I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain, trying to apply my description of how I “see to hear” to all he knows about vision. The feeling I had, at having someone genuinely interested in my hearing in order to best adjust my sight in relation to it, was one of euphoria. I rarely have had an ENT or Audiologist show that much interest in my hearing, let alone an eye doctor.
It was decided we would try a specialized prescription. One contact lens in my dominate eye for nearsightedness and a bifocal lens, with emphasis on the field of vision I need to read lips, for my less dominate eye. Like hearing aids, this multi-vision solution most likely will take some trial and adjustment, but I am hoping it will be successful and allow me to wear contact lenses again. If not, then I have had the positive experience of finding a doctor who is as interested in how I hear, as he is in how I see, because he “gets” that those two senses are more connected for someone who cannot hear. Those rare people who make that connection on a simple level are priceless. Those even rarer medical professionals who make that connection on a deeper level, as it applies to their science, are just as priceless, maybe even more so? You can be assured I will make my appreciation known to this talented and smart man who took the time to understand my needs with regard to seeing speech in order to prescribe the best vision correction possible for me to hear better. How cool is that?