I wear spectacles.

If you’ve never met me or seen a picture of me, this may surprise you. Your idea of  a visually-impaired person may be of someone who wears dark glasses or even an eye-patch, but I wear glasses.

Now, it is true that I have a seriously tiny amount of sight. It is also true that my specs don’t make a huge amount of difference. Nevertheless, I feel a bit strange without them. They sharpen up some of the blurred lines. They give my world some definition. They make a difference to me.

So why am I musing on my use of specs?

It’s because, recently, mine broke.

They didn’t smash or anything spectacular (Or should that be “spectacler”? Get it? No? Oh well, never mind..) like that. The flap that separates the edge of the lens from the nose broke off on one side. This meant that a jagged edge was sticking into me, causing pain and annoyance.

I can’t easily just toddle out to an optician and my PA and I have been very busy of late, so the opportunity to get it fixed didn’t open up until today. A friend was giving me a lift to an appointment after which we always have coffee. On enquiring, I discovered that there was an optician nearby so, hey presto, it is all fixed now.

The optician’s first comment was how old my specs are. This was said in the way in which plumbers tell you your boiler is too ancient and they can’t get the parts any more. It got me musing as to why I leave decades between visits to the optician.

Well, for a start, I don’t need to go to get my eyes tested. That is done regularly at the hospital, so I only go to the opticians when I need new frames. If you haven’t had your eyes tested at an optician’s within two years, however, they are legally obliged to test your sight. The last time I went I protested that I was already under the ophthalmology department at the local hospital, but it made no difference. This seemed a waste of time to me. They weren’t likely to find something the hospital had missed and my prescription hasn’t changed for about twenty years or more.

On the other hand, part of me thinks that this insistence on checking is good practice. It means no one gets overlooked. Any changes will be picked up by someone and it doesn’t really matter whether that person is working in a hospital clinic or a high-street shop, but it still felt odd and meant everything took a long time.

The good part was that, because of my particular eye condition and lens prescription, I got an NHS voucher towards the cost of my glasses. I got quite excited. I believe my glasses and frames came to over a hundred pounds.

Guess how much the voucher was for.

Four pounds eighty. Yes, £4.80.

Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

After waiting for the eye test, I then had to choose frames. As with buying clothes, I have to rely on the judgement and advice of others. I have no idea what current spectacle fashions are and I can’t tell what suits me. So, taking all the above into account, I don’t venture into a high-street optician very often.

Then again, if my glasses are so old that they’re causing comment, perhaps I should steel myself and go anyway. Hopefully I can be left in peace for a decade or two after that!