The lens from which I view the world is changing. And when I say “lens”, I literally mean the lens through which light filters so I can see. My physical eyes are changing as part of the natural progression of aging. It’s called presbyopia — from the Greek word which means “old eye”. It’s a time when you gradually lose the ability to see things up close.
As we get older there’s often a loss of sharpness to us overall: our mental capacity to remember things, react quickly, be alert, etc. And with eyesight, we lose our ability to see the world in the way we once could so effortlessly, a way that we likely took for granted as it was just always that way. And we then suddenly need to re-adjust, to re-focus, to find a way to sharpen our view. We need glasses! But it’s so much more than that. It’s a reminder that things change as we age, and we must change with age too. We must learn to pause, reflect, and fully focus our attention on what’s in front of us.
For me, this “old eye” condition began seemingly out of nowhere a little over a year ago. Thankfully, my memory is still intact, so I can tell you that it literally happened on Sunday, January 7th approximately 3pm. January of 2018. I looked down at my phone to read a text, and something just wasn’t right. The screen was blurred. I blinked. I blinked. I blinked again. Still blurry. I immediately made excuses for what was happening. “It must be because I’d been staring out the window into the bright sun for too long.” Yes, that must’ve been it. But as the days went on, it kept happening. It became obvious that a change was occurring, and my view was now permanently blurred from a close distance. If I moved the phone, the book, the-whatever-thing-to-read further away, my view was magically back to normal.
I’ve been lucky to have 20/20 vision my whole life and to never need glasses. So, I’ve only ever seen the world through my own eyes, crystal clear down to every detail. Perfect precision. Before the presbyopia episode, I’d never given much thought to how incredible it is to open your eyes and see every single thing perfectly as it is in front of you. How easy. How simple it is to just open your eyes and see. No tools required. We open our eyes and focus on a detail without needing to “focus.” But now, slowly but surely, things are starting to be out of focus, blurred, unclear, and not as sharp. The only way to make it so again is to move things away, further and further until, once again, they are in focus. (Or, I could just get glasses.) It reminds me how in everyday life situations too, we must move away from something, step aside and view it from afar to really “see” it for what it is. Being too close to a person or situation sometimes blurs our view. We need space. An arm’s length from it. A distance that will allow pause, reflection, and a chance to really focus on the details.
So is losing our sight, or rather losing our ability to see clearly, simply another opportunity for us to pause and live more mindfully? Maybe it is. And maybe “old eye” happens to us at exactly the right time. It happens when it’s time to take the time to view life from a new lens. So while it may be a reminder of aging we can’t ignore or hide from, that’s not where our “focus” should be. Instead, remember that it’s also a chance to be more present, to stay awake and alert, and to focus on what’s in front of you!