Linking Glasses And Brainpower

Scientists have taken a careful look at one of the most important issues of our time and have found that there is, in fact, a link between innate brainpower and wearing glasses.  The findings warm the hearts the bespectacled among us — including, no doubt, many of the very scientists who conducted the study in the first place.

copilot-style-201506-1434641377474_lebron-james-01In research conducted by the University of Edinburgh, more than 40,000 people took a variety of tests that provided a general cognitive ability score, and also allowed their genetic data to be examined.  Researchers then probed the genetic data — including looking at more than 100 genomic regions that are associated with enhanced cognition — and found a correlation between intelligence and poor eyesight, with the smarter participants being, on average, 30 percent more likely to need reading glasses than those who scored poorly on the cognition tests.

And because the study involved actual cognition test data, the results shouldn’t be influenced by the “glasses effect” — namely, the general societal perception that those who wear glasses must be smarter because glasses are thought to make you look smarter.  Indeed, the lead researcher said the study “has identified many genetic differences that contribute to the heritability of thinking skills.”  So in addition to passing along the dreaded nearsighted genes, we glasses-wearers may also be passing along better thinking capabilities, too.

It all makes me want to square my shoulders, adjust my glasses, and — for today at least — proudly bear the name “four eyes.”

Florida Fog

No rational person, given a choice, would venture to Florida in August.  It’s so hot and humid outside that you feel enveloped as soon as you step outside of any building or car that is air-conditioned.

This poses a quandary for the near-sighted, glasses-wearing traveler.  As soon as the moist air strikes the eyewear, your glasses immediately fog over completely, leaving you helplessly blinded and stumbling.  Your choice at that point is to stand stock-still and act nonchalantly like you’re not doing it because your now-useless glasses have failed you, or remove your glasses and squint.  I always choose the latter option.

I’ve worn glasses since I was six and am so used to them that they’re a part of me.  The only time I still feel like a “four eyes” is when the fogging occurs.

Eyesight Fail

I’ve worn glasses for as long as I can remember.  I think I got my first pair when I was in first grade, and I’ve worn them ever since.

For years, my eyesight declined gradually, but inexorably.  When I was a kid our optometrist gave me a rubbery softball with letters on it; I was supposed to attach it to a string, hang it from the ceiling, and let it sway around as I tried to identify the letters moving past.  This was supposed to strengthen my eye muscles, or something.  It was incredibly boring to do, so I went outside and played with my friends instead and the ball went into a drawer to gather dust.

When I hit 40, my vision decline seemed to stop.  It didn’t get better, but it didn’t get any worse.  Every few years my glasses would get too scratched to see through clearly, and I’d go to a storefront optical shop for a check-up and a new pair.  My prescription stayed pretty much the same, and the main challenge was picking out a new pair of glasses.  As any eyeglasses wearer knows, optical stores are filled with photos of rugged looking guys and high-fashion women wearing dark, dramatic frames that would look ridiculous on most chubby American faces — including mine.  After a split-second of indecision, I’d just get a new pair that looked like my old pair.

Once I turned 55 earlier this year, however, my eyesight seemed to hit the wall.  With my glasses on, I simply could not focus on the words on a printed page.  When your job involves lots of reading, this can be a problem.  It got to the point where it was easier to remove my glasses and bring the text embarrassingly close to my face.  When I went to the optometrist, he confirmed that my ability to focus on nearby items has deteriorated significantly.  He says constant use of a computer terminal may be to blame, but it’s probably just the effect of age.  Ugh.

I’ve got my new prescription and new glasses, and I can read again — for now.  My most recent pair of glasses now join the pile of old glasses in my desk drawer.

If only I’d used that softball!

The Hat Season

This is a crappy time of year for the glasses-wearing population of Columbus.  It’s been raining for days, and it’s like the scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest talks about the rain in Vietnam — sometimes big fat rain, sometimes sharp stinging rain, sometimes drizzle that seems to blow on the breeze.  Inevitably the spectacles end up coated with moisture, leaving the now-blinded, hapless glasses-wearing wretch stumbling through the mist.

Umbrellas aren’t a great answer, either.  For one thing, they’re cumbersome and a pain to use in the wind.  And if you’re lugging a satchel and notebook, you’ve got no hand free to hold an umbrella, anyway.

So, I’ve decided to wear a hat and trench coat on foul weather days.  I’ve had a Country Gentlemen Lite Felt hat for several years, but I haven’t worn it much.  This year, I’m going to change that.  I’ve worn the Country Gent the past few rainy days, and it’s perfect.  It’s warm, water repellent, and has an exceptionally wide drop down brim that keeps the raindrops off the lenses.  So what if I look like a bit player in a ’40s crime movie?  It’s worth it to be able to see on Columbus’ drizzly winter days.

The Innate Studliness Of Eyeglasses

Every once in a while a news story announces the results of a study and the results are so outlandish, and so contrary to normal human experience, that you wonder whether there was some problem with how the study was designed or conducted.  So it is with a new study, funded by the vision care division of Johnson & Johnson, that finds that kids between 6 and 11 who wear contact lens have better self-perception than kids who wear glasses.  The study, led by a doctor from The Ohio State University College of Optometry, somehow found that kids who use contacts were more satisfied with their appearance and their ability to participate in sports and other events.

Huh?  Does anyone really believe that kids who wear glasses aren’t the envy of every other kid in the neighborhood?  We all know that people associate glasses with innate studliness and a carefree, devil-may-care charm.  And how could kids with contacts have more self-confidence when it comes to athletic events?  After all, who wouldn’t want to play contact sports wearing flimsy glass and plastic devices that will be broken into smithereens by even an indirect hit?  Another obvious advantage to glasses is that boys can advertise their manliness by wearing spectacles that are held together by scotch tape at the bridge of the nose or the corner of the frame, thereby transmitting a powerful subliminal message to all that the glasses were broken in some ultra-masculine pursuit.  And who wouldn’t want to develop the fine motor skills needed to try to replace the tiny screws that hold eyeglass frames together?  What right-thinking kid would want to turn down the chance to display the rakish bonhomie seen whenever a kid comes inside on a frigid day wearing glasses that immediately became hopelessly befogged?  In short, why would anyone want to look like a normal person rather than some goggle-eyed freak?

You really have to wonder about these studies sometimes.