Seeing straight

As you get older your vision ... the all-important sense to a photographer ... can change. But these changes can happen so slowly that you are unaware of them.

I'll never forget stepping out into the street, wearing my first pair of spectacles. I was in primary school at the time - still not very old - but even so,  my eyes had been changing. And they'd been changing so slowly that I hadn't noticed anything amiss.

But, fortunately, my mother had been keeping tabs on me, and had dragged me kicking and screaming (figuratively, that is) to the opticians for an eye test. No way did I want to wear glasses. The other kids at school called you names if you wore glasses, and they made you look 'swotty'. I didn't think I needed glasses ...

... until I stepped out into the street wearing them.

What a revelation! Everything was so sharp it was as if the town had been trimmed with a diamond-tipped saw. I could read the roadsigns. The trees had individual leaves instead of a blur of green. The clouds were sculpted and textured. Old peoples' faces had wrinkles and young kids smiled with gleaming white teeth. It was unbelievable. And the moment has stuck with me to this day.

Your vision can change at any time, and it's worth keeping a check on it. One way of doing this is to use an Amsler grid which may show changes that you wouldn't notice otherwise. You could print it, and stick it up somewhere in your kitchen so you'll remember to look at it ...

To use it:
  1. Wear your glasses if you need them and hold the grid 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light
  2. Cover one eye
  3. Look directly at the centre dot with the uncovered eye
  4. Keep your eye on the the centre dot and note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurred or dark
  5. Repeat this procedure with the other eye
  6. If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred or dark, contact your ophthalmologist immediately
This is not a substitute for a regular eye check by a qualified practioner, but it could pick up problems before they become too serious.

Vision is vital to a photographer.

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