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Sunday / July 14.
HomemitwocentsAs I See It: Presbylasik Turning Back Time

As I See It: Presbylasik Turning Back Time

I was fielding on the fine leg boundary at the Sydney Cricket Ground on a balmy January evening in a one day international against the West Indies when the notion of 20/20 hit me hard. Viv Richards was in full fury and the gradually greying white cricket ball employed for such limited overs contests was getting a touch harder to find, especially when hit at Mach 2 out of the background of the shimmering and shaking 40,000-strong crowd.

The contrast between ball and crowd coupled with the Master Blaster’s full blooded hook shot left me grasping air. Terry Alderman bowled, Sir Viv stroked and I moved rapidly to my left in the pre-knowledge that pace off the mark was not my strong point and that pace off the bat was Viv’s. As I lunged left, the ball disappeared right. Australian crowds are not known for their generosity of spirit when bumblers are on the field, visitors or home team regardless. I felt the derisory stares and heard the cackling criticisms of several thousand, and this was my home ground! There was no ditch in the near vicinity for me to crawl into, after all, international cricketers may not be perfect but they should at least be heading in the general vector of the ball, not at 180 degrees.

Early Warning Signs

I simply had not seen the ball and the remaining overs were fraught with the fear that the event may be repeated. In that case it wouldn’t just be the crowd that wanted me removed, the selectors may have similar notions.

Toric contact lenses of that cylinder dimension were not reliable especially when three or four degrees off axis rotation was quite visually disturbing, and you didn’t want that happening just as the bowler lets one go at you or the ball was travelling rapidly in your direction in the field

My civilian spectacles were plano in the left and some seriously prescribable cyc, about three dioptres worth in fact, in the OS. Of course the binocular vision was better than 6/6 and although Michael Holding had always caused me problems bowling at 150 km per hour, I wasn’t on my Mick Malone in that category, I never felt the need to play cricket with cylinder corrected. The aneisokonia with the specs meant that I had better binocular visual acuity (VA) and depth perception without a spectacle correction.

Toric contact lenses of that cylinder dimension were not reliable especially when three or four degrees off axis rotation was quite visually disturbing, and you didn’t want that happening just as the bowler lets one go at you or the ball was travelling rapidly in your direction in the field. Anyhow, the experience of that evening sent me straight to the CL doctor with some specific demands and we found a reverse prism toric that when fitted tight performed admirably. (Thanks Hydron for all that great work in the past!) VA with the lens on was around 6/4. Problem solved until I retired. No such thing, as laser surgery in those days and with a thinning cornea (was it inherited from my Dad who had monocular keratoconus?), I may not have been a suitable candidate in any case.

Progressing Presbyopes

My cricket days are well behind me now and I need my best VA for the golf course, which brings its own challenges for us progressing presbyopes. See the ball on the tee, hit it a long way away (some times straight, most times not) and then record your score with a blunt pencil in a tiny box on a piece of recycled paper scorecard. Lots of visual challenges that come in all sorts of light and weather conditions. The specs still provide the tilting aniseikonia and that is my stock standard answer for being a diabolical putter. In a world where modern health regimes are making our bodies younger while our eyesight still follows the tenets of deceasing phakic flexibility, means the aging population still want to be outdoors doing things that require the full range of youthful visual requirements. Does this mean that very new procedures such as PresbyLASIK, which promises a ‘progressive lens’-style result will grow rapidly? Has mono vision seen its day?

The Federal Government tells us (ad nauseum) about the aging profile of Australia’s population and the associated burgeoning health burdens. So perhaps we can look forward to some decent Medicare benefits for these and associated procedures and the follow ups that Optometrists increasingly provide. You never know… It might save the government some money and keep us old bludgers out of the living room and out in the open air keeping fit and healthy.