Flunking the Eye Exam

3 mins read


It finally happened. There I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles getting my license renewed when the clerk said, “Ok, time for the vision screening.”


Here was my dilemma. If I squinted hard in the masked eye test area, I could probably guess most of the letters and she would never know it. But there was something else she did not know, and that is the inevitable had happened within the past few years and it had nothing to do with my driver’s license. It was my eyes. First it was the speedometer. I really couldn’t tell what speed I was driving unless I squinted, which is not good when you are driving 65 miles per hour. I started to wear my reading glasses around my neck, so I could grab them easily to read the instrument panel. Then I realized that all the signs along the highway seemed to be getting smaller.

“Guess what?,” my far-sighted spouse said. “Your eyes are going!”

So off to the optometrist to get an eye test. When she looked at my drug store glasses she smiled.

“Those just are not strong enough anymore. And besides you have some other problems with your vision. Your distant vision is going, too.”

She wrote a prescription for a pair of glasses that would allow me to see both the speedometer and the road signs.

My parents called them bifocals, but now eyeglass marketing companies have changed the name to multi-focals. It doesn’t sound like “old people” glasses. Whatever the name, I needed them in order to drive safely.

The experience reminded me of my friend’s 6-year-old son, who came home from school one day with a note from his teacher. She felt that he was squinting too much in class and that maybe he needed his eyes checked. The parents were very surprised since neither of them wore glasses, but they took him in for an eye exam. Sure enough, he needed glasses. He told his parents he could see the leaves on far away trees. I knew how he felt.

The new multi-focals allowed me to read all the road signs for gas stations, fast food places, and hotels when driving down the highway. I realized I had been limiting myself to just reading the giant billboards.

As I stood there in front of the clerk at the DMV I admitted I could not read any of the letters without my glasses.

And so, for the first in my life, I have a restriction on my driver’s license. She smiled and said, “I hope there are a lot more people out there like you.”

“Me too!,” I said.


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