Friday, August 24, 2012

Ancient Eyes

I walked again this morning, just a tad more than 4.6 miles.  I fumbled with my keys for what seemed like a full minute as I felt my way in the darkness for the knob and then the deadbolt to lock the door as I left.  It would make sense for me to turn on the porch light before I leave, but by the time I get back home an hour or more later, daylight has brightened the sky enough to make it easy to overlook the fact that the light is on.  So, I cope with darkness as I leave the house.  The street lights near my house provide sufficient light for me to see the sidewalk and street, once I'm far enough away from the house to leave the shadow of the big Arizona ash that is directly between the street light and my front door.

It's probably not that the mornings are darker now than they were a year ago.  It's probably that my night vision has worsened considerably.  Just a year ago I felt perfectly comfortable walking through my rather dark neighborhood in the pre-dawn darkness, but now I do not see well enough to notice and compensate for broken sidewalks, mud-covered walkways, and other obstacles I might find in my way on my neighborhood streets.  So, I leave the neighborhood, walking in the street to a north-south thoroughfare a couple of blocks away.  That street, which serves as an artery for commuters heading for freeways and retail centers, has many more and much brighter street lights than my neighborhood.  There is ample light to expose the pot holes and street debris that would be dangerous in complete darkness.

Fortunately, I only have to walk just under two miles in one direction or just under half a mile in the other to reach an entry point for a concrete hike and bike trail.  The lack of light on the trail, and there is virtually none along most of it, is not a problem because the trail is absolutely smooth.  Where the trail intersects with streets there is ample light.  At least for now.  I do not relish thinking about going for my morning walks with a red-tipped white cane.

I wonder whether my noticeably worse night vision is just normal deterioration or may be an early sign of cataracts or what have you.  I shall know reasonably soon, as I've decided to visit an ophthalmologist soon in an attempt to get some answers about the lousy vision in my left eye; the vision in that eye is abysmal and getting worse. Only by holding my glasses far, far from my head and looking through a tiny band in the center of the lens can I see clearly.  That's true for near and far vision; getting older (if that is indeed the culprit) is not as wonderful in some ways as in others.

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