THE WRITING LIFE: The Better to See You With, My Dear

I was depressed when I had to get bifocals. I was outraged when I had to move to trifocals. I’m not that old!

I tried progressive lenses at first. You’d think ophthalmologists would warn you about how weird stairs are with progressives. I learned that from a coworker—after a couple of months of wondering if I was either going crazy or had a brain tumor. News Flash: The focal points with progressives do weird things in stairwells. Be prepared for a vertigo-like experience. Some people get used to it; mine never went away.

They were okay for driving and for walking around, but I never found progressives comfortable for working at the computer. NOTHING ever seemed to focus quite right. A new eye doctor suggested trifocals, and they were a huge improvement. Loved them, especially for driving. The ability to easily switch between distance, map reading, and the dashboard was amazing.

I was hoping that my new home office’s ergonomic set up would resolve all my various body issues, but I found I was still getting a stiff neck and jaw while I wrote, and couldn’t figure out why since everything was arranged ergonomically. When I moved to a two-screen display, things got worse. One day, it finally struck me: Because of my trifocals, I was craning my head at odd angles, raising my chin, trying to see through the tiny mid-range lens to the words spread across the screens. Only a tiny bit of my shiny new multi-screen set-up was in focus at any one time.

As it happened, I had my annual eye exam and didn’t need a new prescription…so I used my insurance glasses allowance to buy a dedicated pair of computer (mid-range) glasses. I can’t say enough good things about my eye doctor—he did an amazing job on the prescription, including checking to see at what distance I preferred my monitor to sit. (To be discussed at length later, but short form, it should be arms-distance from you.)

Since I have gotten my new glasses, I am telling everyone I know with bifocals, trifocals, or progressives to invest in a pair of dedicated computer glasses for their writing. These have resolved ALL of my neck, shoulder, and jaw issues. The difference was clear within a day or two. Now when I accidentally start working with my regular glasses on, I quickly recognize that I’m tilting my head at odd angles trying to see things.

I’ve also JUST picked up my dedicated reading glasses. Again, after finding I never made time to read traditional books any more, it occurred to me after far too long that part of my problem with reading, making lists, and writing pages by hand was that I couldn’t get a comfortable view of the page. I could see part of it, but not enough. The process suddenly felt weird. With my new prescription reading glasses, I spent a nice chunk of my Christmas break curled up with some new hardback books I received as gifts! VERY nice to be back in the reading groove.

I never would have considered glasses an ergonomic solution, but they are now the top suggestion I currently make to people who mention neck and shoulder problems. In fact, this was going to be one of the last articles in this series…and the evening after picking up my reading glasses, I promptly tagged this to be the first article in the series.

2 thoughts on “THE WRITING LIFE: The Better to See You With, My Dear

  1. Kathy Altman says:

    I may just try your suggestion to buy dedicated computer glasses. My bifocals are progressives and I could never make them work for me. I think you have the solution! And yay, you, for sliding back into that reading groove! I bet you’re feeling much more fulfilled now. 🙂

    • Rowan Worth says:

      DEFINITELY loving reading again. I think progressives are great for SOME THINGS, just not the amount of time writers spend at their screens. Good luck! Use that end-of-the-year medical allowance insurance offers.

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