Eyecare and the Editor

Eye on Flat Panel Monitor

I’m sitting at my laptop after a hectic day off. Yes, I finally managed a whole day off. I don’t normally work through weekends but as things have been a bit full-on I decided (that’s I decided … my clients didn’t decide for me) to work right through the last few months to get some deadlines comfortably met.

So, today I had a day off, and my new glasses arrived.

Ever since I was 18, and my husband (at the time my boyfriend) and my mum frogmarched me into the opticians, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the men and women in white coats.

I was fine. Who needed to see if you could ask the little old lady next to you at the bus stop what the number of the bus just arriving was?

Red London Bus

But that was 30 years ago.

Since then I’ve had an assortment of really rather crappy specs – from roundish glasses that made me look like a moon, to geeky heavy frames that I liked and no-one else did.

If I’m totally honest I hate having to wear glasses. There are few that suit me as I seem to have quite a small, weird face. My last visit to the opticians resulted in me trying on every single pair of specs in the whole shop and coming away with one pair that I didn’t mind. I actually rather like them now, but it’s not much of a consolation for hours spent looking for the right pair. Oh, how I envy those women who suit all types of glasses and look elegant and intelligent in them.

Sara Donaldson in specs
I didn’t mind these, but they were retired in June

As an editor I know I have to look after my eyes, but it really doesn’t make it any easier when suddenly you can’t see close-up in your contact lenses any more.

At my last appointment in June I heard the dreaded word – varifocals.


I’m old and I have crap eyesight. I don’t know what’s worse.

I resisted.

I bought some distance glasses and persevered.

That didn’t work.

So last week I ordered four pairs of specs from Glasses Direct to try on. Two frivolous ones, and two that are very much like my distance glasses (only slightly larger as they are supposed to fit a normal-sized head). Guess which ones I ordered?

The nice lady optician on the phone mentioned ‘occupational glasses’ (whatever they are) as something I could look out for in future, but I still semi-resisted and ordered a pair of reading glasses and some … *deep breath* … varifocals.

Sara Donaldson's stare
I’m not judging you, I’m pondering my weird small face.

Dear reader, I’m hedging my bets. I now have a pair of reading glasses and am waiting for the Devil’s lenses to arrive next week. I like the idea that if I hate the old lady glasses I can be even more of an old lady and swap between distance and reading glasses.

So what has this got to do with freelancing and editing?

Well, quite frankly I rely on my eyesight. If I can’t see, I can’t work. Simple as that. And working for hours on end on a computer certainly hasn’t helped my eyes one little bit. I’ve noticed a marked deterioration in the last few years since my editing business has steadily grown.

So what do I do? I certainly can’t take on less work (hey, we all have bills to pay and I love my job).

I’ll be:

  • Following the recommendations from the College of Optometrists on eyecare when using screens.
  • Trying to get on with varifocals. They can take some getting used to apparently, and although I hate the thought of them I will keep an open mind and persevere.
  • Looking into getting contact lenses again. Expensive varifocal ones this time.
  • Trying on glasses when I fancy it, not just when my prescription is due. Specs are expensive, but self-care is important. And I will try the Glasses Direct home trial again … I may eventually find those frivolous specs I’ve always longed for.
  • Stopping with the ‘old lady’ thoughts. I may still think I’m 20, but I’m not. As long as I look after my eyes I’m still just me.

Being freelance, there may come a time when I’m wearing second-hand glasses tied together with string so, while I’m able, I’m going to take my eyesight more seriously and actively look after it.

Still pondering.
Still pondering.


19 Comments on “Eyecare and the Editor

  1. Hi, Sara. I get my glasses from Glasses Direct. There’s a great post on Forums by Paul Beverley about this. You’ve already committed yourself now but I highly recommend occupational glasses – the ones used only for the computer. I am getting blinder and blinder and I cannot read with glasses on or contacts in. I can read fine without both. I use my normal short-sighted prescription glasses for every day and my occupational ones for computer. I don’t mind the swapping. It’s a lot cheaper than varifocals, as occupational glasses have only single-focus lenses (even though somehow they combine two measurements). Also, I don’t think I could be doing with adjusting in varifocals. I hope they work for you. Check out the Forum thread. 😘

    • oooh so THAT’s what they are! Sounds like a plan. I spend so much time lifting my damn glasses to read I figured I’d go for the two specs option (but the reading glasses seem to be ok for work on my laptop) and might use the reading specs if I get more contacts.
      I am not confident that the varifocals will work for me, but as GD are sooooo much cheaper than our local opticians for varifocals, if I’m wasting my money I still got 2 pairs for less than one set of varifocal lenses without frames.
      Will check out Paul’s thread. …

      • Yep, I need reading glasses when I have my contacts in (which is so rare now, because of the faff!). My computer (occupational glasses) are fab! Yes, and without sounding like we’re getting a commission from GD, aren’t they just great? I’ve just got two new pairs last week. Got glasses coming out of my ears here. 😂

      • I was impressed with the optician, especially when she told me that a certain other chain, where the optician said as I get older as I’m so short sighted I’d end up not needing glasses because they’d correct themselves, was talking utter bollocks. 😉
        I’ll try the occupational ones next, and I’m determined to get some ‘interesting’ specs just for fun.

      • ‘Interesting’ specs … 😂 à la Dame Edna Everage kind of fun? Yes, I was told the same thing and it is utter bollocks. I think I’m older than you and mine have just had a significant deterioration – again – *and* I’ve got the beginning of cataracts!? 😢 It won’t need intervention for many years but us myopic editors do need to look after our eyes! Great post (as per uzhe)! 😘

      • Totes dwaaahling. Cat’s eyes with diamantee and shiz. 😂
        Here I was, hoping my eyes would level out and I’d get better. The Optometrists website says there’s no evidence of screenwork affecting your eyes, but mine are definitely getting worse.
        Dunno about you, but I’m buying a Euromillions ticket tonight! 😉

  2. Quite frankly I don’t know what you’re going on about your “small, weird face.” You’re lovely! And all the glasses you model here look lovely on you too — though my favorites are the very last pair. I’ll be eager to hear how you adapt to the Devil’s varifocal glasses (ha ha!). I never got used to mine and decided it was better to squint on occasion and yield the right of way to a shrubbery than to spend the rest of my existence tumbling down stairs. Anyway. Thank you for this charming and really enjoyable read!

    • The last pair are the pair I’m wearing right now…the new ones are very similar.
      I shall look forward to giving way to shrubberies 😀

    • I agree with Heide. The last pair look great on you! Clearly your ‘small, weird face’ does well with rectangular shaped lenses! As for progressives, well…I’m ancient, but could not live without them (along with the 14 other various pairs that are essential to my existence!)

      • Yup, rectangular ones seem to be best… but most swamp me. Those ones you like are my current ones, and no others are that small.
        Perhaps I shall get loads of specs too, and I’ll bet you’re not ancient. I however am ancient of days.

  3. I’m just back from picking up my new specs, which the lovely lady in the optician’s helped me choose. They’re actually very like my last pair and finally, after years of getting frames that I’m just ok with, I seem to have found ones I positively enjoy wearing. Just as well, because my contact lenses are getting increasingly uncomfortable as my eyes get very dry (apparently a symptom of being menopausal 🙄). I’ve never heard of Occupational Glasses, but I hope you find the right pair for you eventually because our eyes are so important for our work. 🤓

    • In hadn’t heard of occupational glasses either, but I’ll definitely be looking into them (arf, arf).
      I do like the ones I have at the moment, but I’m still searching for the perfect pair.
      Glad you’ve found yours 😁

  4. I have varifocals and after the first few wearings – is that a word? ah well, it’s Saturday so I’m using it – I got used to them. I also have a yellow tint in the lenses, which cuts down the glare of blue light or something, so I get less headaches. It works! That said, I still suffer with eyestrain from time to time – particularly after doing a long stint where I’ve forgotten to take regular breaks. Happened this week and yesterday I had to work with a booming headache. I also suffer neck pain for the same reason, and rely on a chiropractor to sort that out. There are physical ramifications of every job (my husband is a landscaper; I don’t need to tell you what his are). If we want to be in this game for a long time – and like you, I love my work – we need to take care of our health and our precious assets: our eyes.

    • Glad the varifocals work for you. I’m terrible for not taking breaks if I get engrossed in my work.
      I’m sitting here on my ipad wearing my new reading specs, and they are much better for closeup work (why am I surprised?).
      I wish someone could wave a magic wand for us 😂

    • I’m terrible for not taking breaks when I get engrossed in work. But I’m sitting here on my ipad and my reading glasses work so much better (why am I surprised?).
      I wish someone could wave a magic wand for us 😂

      • I think the other thing is to try to ensure you have at least one day off per week from the computer screen (or any other type of screen). I know we all tend to work weekends and evenings. But we shouldn’t. I’ve worked the past two weekends and last night my eyes (and head) were really paying the price. And I’m working most of today, too. So much for efficient time management and realistic deadlines! I’ve no-one to blame but myself.

      • Aaah, me too. I’ve just put in a 7hr screen day. I’m going to take up bookmaking again and spend a day creating some notebooks once this round of work is over!

  5. Very interesting, thanks! I have worn glasses since I was about 22 (about 20 years now) but for years, when I worked in a variety of jobs and wasn’t computer / desk-based (ending up as a teacher – probably very good for my eyesight, if not stress levels) my eyes were relatively stable and only deteritorated slightly every couple of years. Since entering publishing as an editor 5 years ago, the deterioration in my eyesight has been really marked and it’s quite worrying! Maybe age is also a factor, but I’m blaming the computer work. I try to take breaks and stop looking at screens, but it’s hard! I think this post might act as a timely reminder (I’m due a test soon) to make me pay a bit more attention and look after my eyes better. Thanks!

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