Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A Recent Vote

We've always done our best to include the children in family decisions. We believe it is good for them and good for the parents. Matters such as, where we'll go for holidays, where we'll eat and what we'll be watching. When there is no real common consensus, we'll usually take a vote. However that sometimes doesn't work out with the overall desires of the parents. A recent vote while travelling in the van helped the children keep some perspective. Fenton: "OK let's vote. Hands up who thinks this is a democracy?"

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I was walking down the street ...

... when suddenly my spectacles' prescription ran out. So said Steven Wright[1]. I always thought that was funny in an new-way-to-see-it kind of way but as with a number of things that reference US culture -- usually The Simpsons -- it's funnier (and in this case, sadder) when you have even more knowledge of the environment from which it comes. To wit, corrective lens prescriptions actually do run out in the US.

Glasses -- though I'm not sure about general reading spectacles -- are treated more or less as a drug. Contact lenses are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and cannot be purchased without a current prescription, with lens prescriptions being valid for a year. This contrasts with my experience in Germany -- not exactly noted for its free-wheeling market approach -- where contact lenses were available off the rack in a supermarket. I assume they are regulated in some way, like many products, but their availability didn't appear to be hampered. This statement quite surprised my optometrist who obviously knew of all the untold dangers an incorrect prescription might foist upon an unsuspecting victim. He was just a little hard pressed to give them when I asked what they were.

My point to him was: if you put on someone else's glasses, immediately you know they are not right, even for subtly difference prescriptions. If you keep them on you merely get a headache, possibly a very big headache. If you persist even further and determinedly work through that migraine then -- and here is the dangerous part -- your brain simply adapts. This is quite a different danger to taking the wrong drug or dosage that might, say, cause your kidneys to fail or your stomach to start bleeding. If there are more severe consequences to purchasing contacts on an out-of-date prescription, please chime in. I'd hate to think my many German friends are needlessly and thoughtlessly exposing themselves.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in having the correct prescription for your genetically (or otherwise) inferior eyes. When I made the jump to contacts a little while ago I had an eye examination and a couple of lessons on the fitting and care of them. I was pretty sure my prescription hadn't changed and, when it came time to resupply in the US, I had trouble finding lenses in the stores. I was told by an optician friend that I would need a prescription before purchasing. Bit strange, I thought but no problem, I'll get them online ... however they do require you to disclose your optometrist. Unfortunately, they didn't have a listing for that nice lady in Germany. Eventually, of course, I had to play the game, coughed up my money for, effectively, a lens subscription, but not without clear-sighted protestations. Oh, and my freshly-minted prescription is identical to my previous.

[1] Possibly.