Thursday, June 17, 2010

Do you see what I see?

Last night, on the spur of the moment, we were invited over to some friends' house for dinner. I do so love having 'spur of the moment' friends, as it's been rather a long time since that was a feature of life. They are gracious hosts, laugh at the right time, are very very cool, and are interesting to boot. SO, it's understood that we really don't turn down invitations to their house.

After dinner we trooped upstairs to see his recent birthday gift from the Missus - a huge picture frame full to the brim of an arrangement of the tickets stubs he's amassed over the years to all the concerts and happenings he's attended. There were stubs to many a Grateful Dead show, some Yes, Rush, baseball games, basketballs games, hockey games, etc etc going so far back that a ticket to see those days' headliners plus their equally famous warm-up bands cost less than 10 bucks. A really cool gift, don't you think? We spent some minutes goggling over just what a huge life he's had in the theaters and arenas of this country, and then it was time to go.

At which point I had to go downstairs. And the stairs are wood. And well lit. Oh no!

You see, I have little to no depth perception as a result of having very differently-abled eyesight in either eye AND having a bit of a wander in the left eye if it's not seeing clearly (that's the nearsighted one). The right eye essentially 'takes over' and any input from the left gets shut off and because there's nothing else to do the eye starts looking inward. It is as glamorous as you might expect, the inward-looking.

The problem with going down well-lit wooden stairs is that there are no shadows to judge distances or where the step actually ends, so the whole works looks like a giant ramp unless the steps are different shades of 'wooden,' which these are not because our wonderful friends have wonderful taste and chose a set of stairs that are nearly perfectly matched for color. Dreadful, for someone like me!

I faltered at the top, hoping nobody would notice me clutching at the banister for dear life as I gingerly stepped down one step. Biff, who had bounded down ahead of me, saw my predicament and gallantly observed that he would catch me if I fell, which was rather nice of him to say but was really of very little help, so I did what comes naturally and shot him a look while semi-snarling 'would you please come give me your hand?" at which point our hostess must have thought 'oh dear, is something WRONG with her' and so I had to inform her of my plight. It's kind of embarrassing, having to hold someone's hand to go DOWN stairs...but I've learned to swallow my pride in order to avoid injury. Can't be risking breaking a hip, now can I?

It goes to show what awesome folks are friends are that, when it was time to go down the garage steps, our hosts rushed to light up the garage to give me a better view of the 5 Steps of Certain Death leading to the concrete floor. Now THOSE are the kinds of friends a body wants, don't you think?

Now, I'm a curious person, and so wanted to see just how BAD my depth perception is, and so went online to check out some available tests. Here's the test I took - it involves your computer screen, one finger, two eyes, and a certain amount of humility:

Easy online depth perception test.

After spending 5 minutes squinting and concentrating and moving back and forth to try to get SOME kind of positive result, I must admit admitting defeat. Not only can I not get a result on the FIRST portion of the test, the optional one give me fits as well. Really, there's not even the barest HINT of depth perception going on, even when I position my noggin at such a distance as both my eyes can actually focus on the dang dot.

Makes me wonder how I ever skied black diamond hills...or play tennis...or bounce on the trampoline in the backyard, when LANDING is something of a mystery when you're not really sure how high UP you are. It's no wonder I have trouble doing simple things like walking or not slamming into doorjambs or not spinning into a fit of vertigo while on scenic overlooks or the second floor of malls - my brain can't tell how far away anything is so imputes everything as 'some middle distance,' which isn't terribly helpful, as you can well imagine.

A few years ago I was fitted with glasses that not only corrected my vision (as you'd expect), but has prisms built into the lenses that forced my eyes to look at the same place at the same time. This gave me 3D vision for the first time in my life, and bestowed the phenomenon of depth perception as well. It was a revelation! However, when I didn't wear the glasses, my eyes ached and the wandering phenomenon was much worse. Win one, lose one. Then, about 2 years ago, my new eye doc suggested that if I could live with not having 3D vision he suggested I go without glasses because my left eye was great for up close work and my right eye was almost 20/20 and would do fine for stuff like driving. So, when working at the 'puter my left eye sees, and for distance stuff my right eye does the looking. It's been pretty great thus far, and I'm hoping to keep up this new vision paradigm for a while longer, as once I go back to glasses I'm going to either need trifocals or at least 2 pairs of glasses.

But still, sometimes, when facing a dreadful set of stairs, I do wish I had some cheaters around my neck to be able to make it down on my own and not look like a feeble old lady many years ahead of schedule. Or at least I wish that the Biffster was always there to take my hand and lead me safely down.

If you take that ol' test up there, whyn't you tell us how you did, and how awesome being able to SEE really is?

And thanks. Tiff out.

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