contact lenses

Billie Jean King’s glasses

Billie Jean King’s glasses

I watched a little bit of that historic 1973 tennis match of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs last night on PBS and noticed both players wearing glasses. Which, of course, is something I have a little interest in (glasses that is). Looking at her glasses I noticed they were pretty large. The kind with the bar on top of the nose bridge is generally a man’s type of design but if you’re a tennis player back in 1973 perhaps a stronger frame design was important. Maybe there was another reason. Styles are so varied. I wasn’t watching close enough to see if she or Bobby Riggs had a strap around the back but you can imagine their glasses have to stay on really well…somehow.

I also remember seeing Tom Kite play golf a long time ago with some pretty large and thick glasses. I’m sure there are other athletes from long ago that used to wear glasses. LASIK has changed a lot of that these days.

But this isn’t just about her glasses really. This is also about who’s wearing their correction or not and if they are wearing the right correction. There’s no law that says you have to wear your glasses or contact lenses that I know of. Maybe there’s the DMV or workplace rule or an OSHA requirement. But is there any rule that says you have to wear your best correction? How many people are doing things, working or playing, and not wearing their prescriptive correction or using old glasses? I read that Billie Jean King’s uncorrected vision was 20/40 and that might have been a bad enough blur to make playing tennis without correction, difficult.

At what point do you decide to wear correction? I don’t have any criteria in my office other than getting the best corrected vision possible. It’s a personal decision that the patient chooses. Some patients are more critical about seeing and want to always see the detail and see as sharp as possible. On the other hand, I had a police officer as a patient who chose not to wear correction even though his vision was 20/30 in both eyes. Not sure what his supervisor would say about that.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing your glasses all the time or only when you need to unless your doctor made a particular recommendation. And nowadays we’ve got more options. Obviously contact lenses are a great option. Back to Billie Jean King…I noticed she still wears glasses….probably because she also needs reading power now. And her glasses aren’t near as big. But the really cool thing about her glasses is, she’s cool with them and I like that! And I want a wood tennis racket too.

example double bar frames

example double bar frames


Lost an eye

Lost an eye

I have a patient who lost an eye due to an incoming baseball. What a tragedy! Let’s just think about this for a moment. You’re doing something you might love to do and in an instant something happens. Unrelated to losing an eye I can tell you I live like a cat and I think most of you might as well. We get a certain amount of chances. Some people have more chances and some have few or none.

As an eye doctor I am honestly a bit more careful when I have a patient with a vision limiting disease or condition like monocular vision. If they only have one eye or are significantly limited I am more likely to dilate every time I see them. If they want to wear a contact lens I am more concerned about infection than a patient with 2 healthy eyes. I might even not want to give them contact lenses if I feel glasses would offer better eye protection for their current lifestyle.

I found a website where I can read about people’s experiences with their monocular vision. What a wonderful way to “see” it from their perspective in so many different ways. Since I only have a few monocular patients and a limited amount of time to talk about how they function and things they have to adapt to it’s no match for a whole forum of people who are doing their best to cope with all kinds of things one of which is the social aspect.

As an eye doctor I don’t have any problems discussing an eye problem with a patient but I admit when I’m just a regular guy walking around outside and see someone with a patch I want to know what happened. I think it’s normal to have that curiosity.  They live with it everyday and I don’t. Makes me curious. How can we possibly bother someone to ask them 20 questions about things they probably don’t want to discuss with us? But an interesting thing is that we all have the ability to adapt our circumstances and make whatever adjustments we can. If you cover one eye you’ll immediately realize some of the world is different and uncomfortable.

Normally with two healthy and well-focused eyes we have great depth perception, great peripheral vision and rarely think about how all that affects us. Take away one eye and the whole world becomes a bit more distant it seems. Judging depth is easy with two eyes because we basically have two different locations from which to observe. But even with only one eye we can still detect depth. It’s harder and not quite the same but we use size cues. As in, you know the size of a car and if the car is far away, it looks smaller. It’s not as easy monocularly to gauge depth especially for very close in objects however.

There’s obviously a lot more to monocular vision than I can possible cover here. If you know someone or are interested in more personal stories, go to this website. The topics range from who’s a famous monocular person to playing golf. I’ll also suggest it to my current monocular patients if they’re interested and any patients that might need a dose of reality if they don’t take eye safety seriously!


sidewalk drawing

sidewalk drawing with depth


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