Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyborg Asher

About three years ago I realized that my eyes were no longer perfect and that when the light was bad I needed reading glasses. I started off at about +1.00 but have since progressed (or rather regressed) to +2.50. Then, at the start of this year (or maybe the end of last) I noticed that when looking at the DVD player I could see it clearly through one eye but it was a blur through the other. In February I duly went to an optician for the first time and ended up with prescription glasses for reading and was told I was border-line for driving. This was no fun at all.

Now, Caroline was very short-sighted, so much so in fact that she couldn’t read signs in the high street without glasses. She had laser eye surgery to correct this and now just needs reading glasses. I was therefore attracted to the idea of  having similar surgery myself at least to equalize my eyes so I only need the kind of reading glasses you can pick up for a few quid just about anywhere, so I booked a free consultation at Ultralase to find out what could be done.

It turns out I now have a nicely miss-matched pair of eyes. Sitting at this computer screen I can see the text fairly clearly with my left eye, but through my right eye it is blurred. Conversely, if I sit watching the TV I can read the numerals on the DVD player with my right eye but it’s a blur through my left. Now I have choices. If I have my left eye sorted by laser my distance vision will be fine but I’ll need reading glasses. If I have my right eye done I’ll need glasses for distance (driving and the like) but not for reading. But there’s another choice.

I’d heard that there are now treatments for presbyopia (needing reading glasses as you get older) but couldn’t figure how shaping the cornea for that worked at the other range of your vision. I was then told that perhaps the best for me would be IOLs – intra-ocular lenses. These are usually used in cataract operations but in the past basically had one setting so you could have your distance vision but would need reading glasses. Now, however, they have multi-focus IOLs. I was very wary, but according to the blurbs I’ve read, 80% of people that have these require no glasses at all. It also turns out that the operation is 25 minutes per eye, no stitches and an added advantage is that I’ll never get cataracts.

I’ve made an appointment to see the surgeon to get some more gen and I’ve been reading about this operation on the internet. I may well decide to go for it. Firstly because of the high probability of getting my vision back and secondly, well, a science fiction writer who is also a cyborg?  


Johan Klos said...

Will you be signing your books with "I'll be back" as well?

Sean said...

I'm about the same age as you, and have run into the same eye problems. For me, I have perfect 20/20 distance vision, but need 2.5+ reading glasses. After visiting an eye doctor, I decided to go with monovison.
You can google it for more info, but basically you just put a "reading" contact in your non-dominant eye. When you look at things far away, your dominate eye takes over and you see normally. When you read or need to do other close-up work, your non-dominant eye takes over and you get the effect of the reading glasses.
It takes a little getting used to, and you tend to lose a little depth perception, but all in was one of the best decisions I made.

I go with the "daily" (disposable) contacts, and if I buy a year's supply it costs me around ~.25 cents US a day. I've toyed with the idea of getting Lasik on one eye so I would not have to use a contact but as my eyes age I would have to get it redone every few years. Might still do it though.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

can you write a dystopia that allows people to have good eyesight? like the neocons who read 1984, & made it part of the US policy, they at least were letting people live thru Room 101. if all goes well in your book, they can have perfect vision.

how do you do in 3D movies?

Chrish said...


alibaba said...

My father had the nultifocus IOLs inserted when he had his cataracts done last year. He went from 75+ years of wearing thick specs to nothing at all, plus he got back all the blue end of the spectrum in his vision. (Not unlike Claude Monet, I believe.)

I had the Lasek surgery in one eye to give me monovision, similar to Sean's. My left eye (the lasered one) dominates for distance vision and I read with my right eye. It took a few months to get used to and can be awkward at certain distance where neither eye works well, but it certainly beats having to wear glasses.

Neal Asher said...

Johan, I will always be back ... until nailed in a coffin.

My problem, with deciding on this, Sean and Alibaba, is that the kind of dual vision you're talking about is what I already have. Of course, people who have had really bad vision (usually cataracts) will always see a vast improvement once they get these implant lenses, but I wonder if the same applies for me. I also have to wonder how much of the suggestion that I have them is based on what's best for me, or based on how much money can be made out of me.

Vaude, 3D movies leave me cross-eyed.

Dan said...

This all sounds very interesting, but since I have fairly bad astigmatism in both eyes, contacts won't work at all for me. Basically, I'm stuck with glasses all the time.

So, I either look at eye surgery, carrying two pairs of glasses around all the time, or I look at the two variable-focus systems available now.

The TruFocus design is a twin-lens one; the front lens is a corrective one, the back a mechanically-variable flexible lens which lets you tune the system to near or far focus.

The Pixel Optics one is electronic in nature, and uses a layer of liquid crystal on a solid lens to give an area of "reading focus lens" that can be turned on or off.

The major problem with both is that they are both stunningly expensive.

Neal Asher said...

Dan, it's the 'stunningly expensive' bit that puts me off. Then again, as they say: 'There aren't any pockets in a shroud'.

daniel ware said...

like your mrs i'm very short-sighted, but unlike her i am squeamish about laser surgery to correct my vision. Living with glasses is a pain sometimes, but hell i kid myself they suit my "mad scientist" look...