When travelling alone, I used to occupy myself by guessing the age of strangers. I did this by observing how far they held their mobile phone away from their face.
I assessed that the angle of the arm holding the device increases about 15 degrees a year between 35 and 45, at which point the elbow is practically straight, and the holder is squinting to read the text.
The elbow springs back to a near-right angle when the person hits around 45, because they have succumbed to reading glasses.
This was all very amusing … until I was the one with the straight arm, narrowing my eyes to focus on the train timetable (OK, Twitter) and had to make an appointment at the opticians.
I’d only worried about my eyesight once before: I went to the optician’s in my mid-twenties, concerned I could see my nose shining in my peripheral vision. He did many tests before diagnosing near-perfect sight and a nose that needed powdering. I kid you not.
This time my vision was not perfect. I needed reading glasses.
I spent an age selecting the perfect tortoiseshell rims in a shape that suited my face. As a bonus, they covered some of the sagging skin under my eyes, so I was delighted, until I got the bill. Those suckers were expensive.
As a first-timer, I didn’t know that with my weak and uncomplicated prescription I could pick up a pair of perfectly suitable specs from the chemist for a tenner. What a fool I was.
I’m now a seasoned optician-goer, but each time I get a new pair, there’s some weird wizardry to combat before I can settle into just being able to see the pictures of people’s lunches on Instagram clearly.
Once, when trying out new specs, I looked up at my computer and the screen seemed to curve and lunge at me. What’s all that about?
My latest prescription means I can see print and my phone perfectly (and the pores on my nose, which is less pleasing) but the computer screen is blurred. I was offered varifocals, but just the word made me feel like I should climb into a bath chair and dribble, so I foolishly turned them down.
I’ve fixed the problem by having one set for books and phone and another for computer work, and I have, more than once, tried to put one on top of the other. When you add sunglasses to the mix, my face is a clattering mess of Perspex and glass.
Any benefit from covering my eyebags with the rims has been lost, since I’ll need Botox to freeze the wrinkles formed looking over the top of my glasses to see the rest of the world in focus.
These days, my glasses steam up because of my mask, so I’m living life in soft focus – which is all very well until I want to cross a road.
Anyone who’s been with their partner for long knows there’s a positive to failing eyesight. My husband can only see the pores I mentioned earlier if I loom into view when he’s got his specs on. The blurrier we are, the more we can kid ourselves we are both fresh-faced and flawless.
I also have a newfound appreciation of people who wear glasses all the time – partly because they always know where their specs are. Most of my 10K steps a day are from me wandering around the house trying to locate my eyewear (I may have rounded those steps up).
You won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t play the ‘ageing people by their phone’ game anymore. It’s not quite so amusing when you’re on the other side, and you spend half of every journey scrabbling in your bag, trying to find your specs.