Friday, August 21, 2009

Phonetic Vision of the Future

Bizarro is brought to you today by Stiff People.

Like most modern people in industrialized nations, I wear glasses and take the eyesight they afford me for granted. I didn't need them until I was 38 and my ophthalmologist told me that almost no one makes it past 40 without needing glasses. Apparently, that's just how long human eyes typically last before warping.

Up until relatively recently, however, glasses were not available to most people. So, the vast majority of our ancestors who lived beyond 40, lost their ability to read or do tiny detailed work and walked around in a blurry, ill-defined world. What a fuzzy drag.

I, for instance, occasionally lose the microscopic screw that holds the arm of my glasses to the frame and have to replace it. I can't wear my glasses while doing this, of course, and it is nearly impossible to line up the holes, get the screw in and tighten it without being able to see it clearly. And though I don't need my glasses for driving or getting around the house, I cannot read or draw without them, so if I did not have access to them, my career (and also my favorite pastimes) would be down the toilet.

Part of the story is that most people didn't live much beyond 40 until recently, and, once dead, weren't using their eyes anyway. But those who did live longer were just out of luck. Michelangelo, for instance, lived to be in his 90s and one can track the deterioration of his eyesight through his work. He did this in his twenties, and this in his eighties.

If humans last on this planet, and that's a formidable "if," I wonder what sort of current hardships that we take for granted will amaze our descendants.

Blog of the future: "Up until relatively recently, if people wanted to reproduce, they actually had to squeeze babies out of their bodies. I, for instance, don't have a uterus or vagina, so I would have had to find a woman who was willing to..."

Who knows?


doug nicodemus said...

mike angelo stick was pretty funny or cartoonish as they say..

Anonymous said...

"if people wanted to reproduce, they actually had to squeeze babies out of their bodies. I, for instance, don't have a uterus or vagina, so I would have had to find a woman who was willing to..."

Blog of the Future? Come on, I'm a 21st-century male and that perfectly describes my present situation!

Anonymous said...

For whatever it's worth, the "most people didn't live past 40" line isn't true. Well, it is, it just doesn't mean what people think it means. What does it mean? Well, what happened was that lots and lots of kids died in their first few years of life. So the "Average age" given for, say, the 1400s takes this into account. The "Average Age", if you count people who lived past the age of five, is in the 60s. So the next person who says, "If I was living in the 1400s, I'd be dead by now!", just kick them in the shins, but tell them they're right first. THAT will confuse them!.

RSJ said...

Somewhere I ran across the factoid that most people in the industrialized West need glasses later in life due to potassium or silver nitrate drops applied to the eyes when they were born as a precaution against blindness from a syphlitic mother or other eye infections.

The procedure started sometime in the 19th century, and continued as a hospital routine long after there were antibiotic cures for eye infections and syphilis.

The drops warp the lens of the eye slightly; the distortion becomes more pronounced with age and, hence, you eventually need glasses.

I don't know if this procedure is still practiced in most American hospitals.

1Red1 said...

I've worn glasses since I was eight years old, & I've always thanked God I wasn't born before vision correction methods were around. I'd have nothing. To. Do.

Penny Mitchell said...

What 1Red1 said.

In grade school I had failed numerous classroom vision tests and was barely passing any classes and refused to go out and play because I was constantly getting slammed by the ball or running into things, and yet my parents never wondered about my vision, and the school never contacted them.

My parents wouldn't let me watch TV because I had to sit with my nose almost touching the screen to see any of it, and I read voraciously. With my nose literally in the book. I still can't believe I was in 3rd grade before I got glasses.

Anyone who is totally blind will tell the same basic story of wonder and amazement and joy when he/she put glasses on for the first time. It's literally like the visual world has been switched on. I will NEVER forget putting my glasses on and being able to see the tools hanging on the wall of the lab at the back of the store. Without the glasses I had no idea where the back of the store was, or that there were people back there, much less little tools hanging from little pegs. Which I could see. It blew my mind.

On the way home from the eyeglass place I said, "There are WORDS on those white things next to the road?"

Coolest. Thing. Ever.

I don't want to ponder what my life would have been like before ultra-high index lenses. I think I would have died really young. Seriously.

SA said...

I did not get it. Whats the difference between reading and pronouncing a letter?

Piraro said...

The doc is suggesting that instead of reading the names of the letters one by one, that the patient pronounce them all together as if it were a long word: Efptozlped...etc.

IDGMPIV said...

I too have worn glasses since 7 yrs old. I'm glad now that I'm 54 that extreme nearsightedness allows me to see up close very well by simply taking off the glasses. I'm typing this on the MacBook while it sits on my flesh hill of a belly and see it quite well without corrective lenses. One less thing to keep looking for all the time, eh?