End of 2015, my sweetheart’s mom had her long time cataract operated on. The operation removed the cataract, but couldn’t solve her other, various problems with vision.
Her right eye is basically blind, she has a huge, irreversible blind spot in the middle and can only see a little at the very left and right side, if she looks straight ahead. The left one is not so much long-sighted (+1,00), as it is down to only 20% of the vision, a healthy eye has. So without any help, her entire vision is down to 5% of what you and I can see. With her glasses on, she sees maybe 20%. This is not much and I am surprised, she functions at all in daily life.
But she heard of a friend, that uses a magnifier. So yesterday I took her to a special optician, who specialises in such devices. Now, that was an interesting afternoon.
First, the optician brought out, what you and I would think of, when the word magnifier is used: all kinds of huge glass lenses, that indeed magnify everthing. But with a very small field of focus, so you have to run it along lines of print, say. My sweetheart’s mom was not impressed at all. She kept saying, that her friend had this much bigger device, that gave a clear view of print and the like.
So the Lady brought out, what I didn’t know existed: electronical magnifiers with a tiny HD video cam inside, that gave a picture on its top-screen of what is placed under it. One can not only zoom in and out, to get the size, one is comfortable seeing, the image is also sharp all the way to the edges. Moreover, one can toggle contrast from black-and-white to yellow print on blue and other variations, to pick the one, which suits you best. And you can put it on freeze-frame, to keep the last image. To take a visual note of a figure or some such and carry it to the computer and type it in, for instance. Now we were talking. My sweetheart’s mom liked this machine a lot and asked: do you have that with a bigger screen? Because one still had to move the gadget along the lines, it was very small and could only display a few words at a time, when set at the enlargement scale, she needed to decipher the regular newspaper print size.
Turns out, they have. But it was just a fraction bigger, the monitor now the size of a big smartphone. And this one had only four different, preset scales of enlargement, so it wasn’t as good as the first one. Nevertheless, my sweetheart’s mom was already happy, although this machine was very pricy, indeed.
At long last, the optician introduced us to the really good stuff. We were lead into the adjoining room, that looked much like a computer lab, with a long row of screens lined up on a table. Same principle as the electronical magnifiers in the front, but now with a proper, high quality HD cam on a flexible pole mounted above a regular computer monitor. With this fab machines, one can put an entire book on the table top and have the print on it enlarged on the screen. Again with the option to zoom it to whatever scale of enlargement you need. Or else, peel your potatoes under the camera eye, with the big picture of what you do displayed very clear on the monitor. Again scalable to your needs. Due to the flexible pole and an extra lens for further away objects, you can even zoom in your TV set and have the screen enlarged. Or even set the camera on a bridge table, to enlarge all the bids placed on it. One can also switch the camera to mirror mode. So now, even make up is possible again. These machines were so great, even I wanted one.
Just don’t ask, what they cost. Extortionate. But we both were certain, this is exactly what was needed. The optician is now filing for some payment toward this machine from the health insurance, because with her poor eyesight, my sweetheart’s mom qualifies for a perscription, that would save her almost half of the expense. But even the remainder of the cost is still much more than what I earn in a month.
However, listening to the old Lady listing activitiy after activity, that would be possible for her again, had she such a device, on our way home in the car, makes me certain, that she must have that optical helper. Doing her beloved jigsaw puzzles again (which have long been stored away in the cellar), mending clothes (the very idea of putting thread through a needle was out of the question), writing letters, reading her mail again, looking after her bills and finances (instead of always having to ask us to come over and read everything to her and write out all remittance orders), reading a book (long gone pleasure), dealing with her facial hair and manicure. And on and on the list went. She was all excited and I am sure, she can’t wait for the thing to be delivered. It will take up to six weeks, but we are both impatient for the miracle machine to arrive.
One never thinks much about all the limitations, old folks have to put up with. But little we know, what great stuff already exists, to help them out.