When we last gazed in the Misty Mirror, strange things were happening to our eyeballs. Who says we don’t have a good time in the Joe Zone?
We had determined that most people can’t focus either near or far once they reach middle age (the “good times”). Mrs. Zone found this condition much more difficult to cope with than simple myopia. The trouble began during the eye exam when the condition was first seen (so to speak):
Eye Doc (flipping lens): Which is better, one or two?
Mrs. Zone: One or two what?
Eye Doc: What?
MZ: Is one or two what better?
Eye Doc: Better than what?
MZ: I don’t know, you asked me.
Eye Doc: I mean, which can you see better with, one or two?
MZ: I can’t see the same with one or two.
Eye Doc: What?
MZ: Is that ear doctor still across the hall?
Mrs. Zone had begun wearing contact lenses in utero, with the exception of the stylish glasses she and every other girl wore in the fourth grade. (These contraptions looked like a deranged rhinestone-encrusted butterfly that had suction-cupped itself to your face.) But she just couldn’t adjust to bifocal contacts. She gave it everything she had, though. Over a three-year period, she tried six or seven types of these special contacts, from three different eye doctors, two of whom she drove into early retirement.
Ultimately she gave up on contacts and went back to glasses, but fortunately not the berserk-butterfly ones. She also had difficulty adjusting to bifocal glasses, but was able to do so after driving only one additional eye doctor into retirement. So now Mrs. Zone has a stylish pair of glasses that only need to be replaced every four months to keep up with fashion trends.
At first she was concerned, as I had been years before, how she looked (not saw) in glasses. Plus, for females, the conventional wisdom is “guys don’t make passes at girls that wear glasses.” I don’t think that’s the case, though. In my opinion, an attractive woman could wear the Hubble telescope strapped to her head, and men would still give themselves whiplash jerking their heads around to see her.
Many people today pay large sums of money to have someone shoot laser beams into their eyes on purpose. Typically, the someone is a doctor. Through some inexplicable doctorly wizardry, the raygun-wielding surgeon tames the laser beams so they no longer blind you, but instead correct vision to near perfection, obviating the need for corrective lenses. In other words, he’s putting other eye doctors out of business. This situation could conceivably lead to a war of sorts among eye doctors. With the world as it is, can acts of ophthalmic terrorism be far behind?
Eye Doc: OK, just let me adjust this laser directly into your eye.
Patient: Can I sneeze?
Eye Doc: Don’t worry, it’ll be over before you know it.
Eye Doc: Confound that Dr. Cornea! That’s the third time this month he’s set my laser on stun!
Patient: Is my eye still there?
Eye Doc: Well, that’s why we have two, isn’t it? Mother Nature’s built-in spare, as it were.
Unfortunately, the myopia epidemic is being exacerbated by the annoying tendency of Americans to live longer. People who were blessed with exceptional eyesight used to have the good sense and courtesy to die before nature eventually extracted its ocular toll. But not today’s inconsiderate senior citizens. Thanks to better drugs, nutrition, drugs, exercise, and drugs, the elderly are straining our eye industry as never before. I envision the day, not far away, when you won’t be able to get in to see an eye doctor until five people ahead of you in the waiting room die.
And where is all the raw material for glasses and contact lenses going to come from? America’s reserves of crude glass and plastic are at an all-time low. Do you know where most of the reserves are? That’s right – the Middle East. Which brings us back to the original problem. How can we get our hands on this raw material if we’re not even sure where the Middle East is? However, I have every confidence that Americans will be able to view this problem as clearly as the foreign oil situation, and solve it with as clear a head.