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THIS MUCH I KNOW; OPINION.

Byline: Lynne Barrett-Lee

AM in something of a bad place with my eyes.

IAnd if you're oldish, and myopic, or long sighted, or nystagmic, you will doubtless empathise with my plight.

The reason is clear (or, rather, clouded, when the light's not super-bright) in that eyes, like the rest of us, don't exist in a vacuum, but rather in the shape-shifting process called ageing, which the scientifically-minded among you will already know is dictated by our telomeres.

We'll pass quickly over telomeres - much too small to see properly - except to mention, in passing, that, like much that exists within us, geneticists have found a sweet way to help us make sense of them, likening them to the plastic tips on shoelaces (see, sweet) holding the DNA strands together so they don't become frayed.

Fraying's bad.

Fraying leaves DNA strands vulnerable to tangling, and inadvertently causing all manner or potential catastrophes, like a toenail - I'm improvising - suddenly sprouting from an ear.

Or a nose from a kneecap. Scary stuff.

But it's also inevitable, so though I urge you not to research too much, for health reasons, it's clearly (okay, cloudily) a sensible step for those afflicted to take corrective action without delay.

I did this last week. Again.

It's an ongoing kind of nightmare. (See 'telomeres', and 'shape shifting', above.) I spoke to my optometrist friend Rachel, fount of all optical wisdom, bewailing the fact that, more often than not now, my restaurant experiences are becoming fraught with frustration.

Is it me, or are restaurants getting really, really dark now? Because while I can cope with menus, with the help of my trusty 'ready readers' (and my iPhone torch, which, let me tell you, is a godsend), when it comes to the actual eating - for which I pluck the readers off, of course - I am forced to delve into a potentially dangerous food-coloured blur.

I no longer order fish, as you can imagine.

Moreover (we were on a bike ride, I had the puncture kit, she had no means of escape) I am beginning to find work something of a challenge, too, as the 'lenses out' option, which previously allowed me to see the words on my laptop, has, of late, involved all sorts of distracting complications, as in order to see (lenses out) I have to adjust myself to precisely 37.4cm from the screen. Which, as you can imagine, is a right pain.

Lenses in, then! Even I've been able to figure that one out.

But lenses in means an adjustment of, again, such precision, that my whole body, no more than a chapter or two in, becomes canted at such an angle (25.2cm, give or take) that my vertebrae fuse, causing me to fall off my chair IN pain, whenever I attempt to stand up.

Which I have to do often, on account of my back, where the bloody telomeres are also making merry. And don't even get me started on sighting people across the street.

Sophie's Bryn and the lady from the Cat Clinic, I apologise. It was just a food-lens-appropriate kind of day.

In short, without some kind of major eye-wear intervention, I can't - blast you, telomeres - see for looking.

And as with everything optical, this throws up many options, the first being the spit-spot, Mary Poppins-style approach of attacking the problem with slick professional gusto.

I could have varifocals, bifocals, different lenses in each eye, lenses that have some sort of different rim doohickey, or a lens affixed in one eye but, edgily, not the other, leaving both eyes (and who knew my eyes were so clever?) to sort the sodding problem out themselves.

And as with everything optical, each 'solution' comes at a price - both in pounds sterling (quite a lot of them) and episodes of major torment, as, one by one, each is dismissed by my brain out of hand, more often than not with entertaining side-effects.

Coruscating headache, anyone? The 'whoah! Is that pavement really rising up to meet me?' trauma? The socially fraught 'sorry, I didn't actually mean to lob that shuttlecock quite so precisely at your crotch'? As of right now this minute (37.4cm and counting, lower back in spasm) I am, as you probably noticed, torn. But there is a third way, as has become increasingly clear to me - sorry, obvious.

I've seen the light. Literally. There's only one thing for it. Move to Spain.

Oh, sorry, two - and always eat at McDonalds.

@LYNNEBARRETTLEE www.lynnebarrett-lee.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 30, 2015
Words:750
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