The Mast-Head: Easy on the Eyes

    A couple of weeks ago, I scheduled an appointment for an eye exam, my first in about 10 years. A decade ago an optometrist told me that there really wasn’t any need for me to get a prescription. This year, after plowing through the mountain of letters to the editor, staring at a computer screen for days on end, I thought the outcome would be different.
    Though last week I wrote that the number of letters we ran in last week’s Star was a record, what I meant to say was a record for the time that I have been responsible for sifting through them each week.
    Yes, we had 78 in last Thursday’s issue, but, as Ilene Roizman, who used to be the letters editor, wrote in an e-mail after reading my assertion, she recalled the tally reaching 100. Others here remember our having 11 pages of letters just before Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996. Nonetheless, 78 letters is still quite the pile of prose, and by the end of the day Monday, my eyes were shot and my back a tight knot.
    The lights were dim in the ophthalmologist’s office I visited in Southampton. The north-facing windows had a view of wide farm fields stretching off toward the hills of the glacial moraine and North Sea. I looked through one piece of equipment, then another. The doctor reported that my eyes were still in good shape for someone my age. He scribbled a prescription for the mildest sort of reading glasses, and said I should return in a year.
    To be honest, I was surprised that the time had not come for real glasses. The doc said I might try using artificial tears when my eyes felt strained. He advised me to head to a Target store where four pairs of the plus-one reading spectacles he prescribed could be bought for $10.
    It was a good thing for the ocular health of the editors and proofreaders that this week’s letter writers did their part, cutting back on their output (we presumed) until after the election results were in. Next week, of course, it’s off to the races once again.