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Travel Prep: Bionic Eyes

Snellen Eye Chart: The Bane of my Existence

I haven’t seen clearly since I was 10 years old. It wasn’t genetic, because my lucky mother and father weren’t cursed with glasses until just recently. I’m pretty sure it came from reading under the covers at night with a flashlight. Even as a child, I just couldn’t put the book down.

Fast forward 28 years. I still can’t put the book down, but sadly, also can’t read it without the aid of glasses or contacts. To say that I am functionally blind without vision aids is not an exaggeration. With a prescription of -9.5 diopters in the left eye and -9.0 in the right eye, I am severely near-sighted or myopic.

Prescriptions are not an exact science because everyone “sees” slightly differently. Essentially, the higher the prescription, the harder it is to assign a hard value to it. The best info I could find online estimates that a   -6.0 prescription is equivalent to seeing 20/500. This means that what most people can see at 500 feet, you can only see at 20 feet. It gets even worse. The values don’t increase incrementally the higher the diopter measure, they appreciate exponentially. Just extrapolating a little here, but at -9.5 and       -9.0, my vision must be 20/3000 or something equally ridiculous. Suffice it to say, that unless I’m wearing contacts or glasses, the person sitting a mere foot away is nothing but blur. I have to get about 5 inches away from a person’s face to see them in perfect focus. Good when it’s your husband. A tour guide or flight attendant? Not so much.

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Traveling under this condition thus far has been inconvenient, but not impossible. Sure, long plane rides are a little difficult, especially with all the new regulations about liquids and gels onboard, but I manage. Coke bottle glasses, artificial tears and disposable contacts allow me to land in my new destination and take in the day’s sites, albeit with dry and tired eyes. Preparing enough extra contacts and solution requires a little forethought, but again this is totally manageable.

For a regular length trip.

But what about for a year long around the world journey? 52 weeks of travel would equal 52 pairs of weekly contact lenses, along with contact lens case, solutions and glasses. Would these take up a lot of space? Not a ton, but enough. More importantly, having imperfect vision takes up psychological space. I worry about being somewhere off the beaten path and running out of contact lenses, and I actually need them to function. After all, there’s no point in traveling to the world’s greatest locations and monuments if you can’t see them. And I mean literally…

It’s this thought that finally propelled me through fear and into action. It wasn’t the inconvenience or cost of wearing contact lenses everyday for the rest of my life (never mind the risks to the eyes with continued contact lens use), but the thought of traveling with them for 1 full year that convinced me to move forward with laser eye surgery.

Bionic eyes – bring ’em on!


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hey! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this.
    I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

    February 19, 2014

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