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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby Art Hovey » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:45 pm

Music reading glasses are the answer, and they are worth every penny. Most optomotrists even have a laminated piece of sheet music handy for you to look at during your eye exam to help come up with the right prescription.
If you have to play in the dark with a battery-powered stand light try to avoid the kind with blue-ish light. It's hard to focus blue.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby bisontuba » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:08 pm

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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby bloke » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:03 am

Several years ago, I got some "music reading glasses".
"No glasses at all" worked just as well then for me, and continue to now.
I'm glad, though, they work for others.

Most orchestra music – I've played before, and know how it goes.
Some printing, particularly Russian editions, offer fun guessing games between twos and threes, as far as numbers of measures rest are concerned. Yeah, it makes me look stupid but – then again – I'm a tuba player, and it is expected.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby MikeW » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:55 am

I have problems with astigmatism, so I get a great deal of extra comfort from bifocals. I have tried progressive lenses, and find the reading area too small: I have to keep moving my head to get the reading spot in the right position, which doesn't work too well with a tuba on the front of my face. Some years ago I followed TNFJ advice (from the Elephant I think, but the search facility can't seem to find that thread now) and got a pair of executive lenses. You need to ask the dispensing optician to set the dividing line on the lenses just level with the top of your pupil, so you can see the whole of the music page in the intermediate focus area, and get the conductor in focus with just a slight upward glance. This works best if you set your stand height so the join in the lens aligns with top of the page, which should allow you to read the whole page, or glance up at the stick, without moving your head. Whoever it was who published the original recipe: THANK YOU, these things are great.
The only problem is getting the lenses made - they are are a very low-demand item that has to be custom ordered, so they take about ten days. My local "Lenscrafters" branch knows them as "piano glasses", or "computer glasses" (our conductor also had a pair made, with suitable focal lengths, and is happy with them). The extra thickness at the joining line limits the choice of coatings that can be applied (I think the UV coating machine was the problem) so if you need UV protection you may need to wear those extra-clearance sunglasses that fit over your normal glasses (I suspect the yellow ones may work best??? - I need to try those).
PS:I find all bifocals suck for hiking in rough country - I keep glancing down through the reading areas, and tripping. For that application, I really need single vision distance lenses. Not much point experimenting with those though, until I can get my second cataract fixed.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby hup_d_dup » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:45 am

Progressives: forget it.

Bifocals: I have them and they are sort of OK. Some people like them, and I did too, for a while. What I don't like is that they tend to require you to put your head in a certain position, and if you want to see the whole page, as well as the conductor, you really have to stay in that position. The advantage of course is that the conductor is in focus.

Single vision: My choice at this time. However, you need a dedicated set of glasses; computer glasses (which I also have) focus too close. A set of single vision glasses that focuses at about 30 inches works well for me, and the longer focal length has the advantage that it doesn't put the conductor very much out of focus.

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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby gwwilk » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:47 am

OK, this is going to be a little more technical than most of you want, but here goes anyway:

I'm a high myope (VERY nearsighted) with a correction of -8.00 diopters bilaterally. I normally wear progressive lenses but as has already been pointed out numerous times, they require pointing your head when viewing anything that you want to see clearly. This isn't a deal breaker for most activities as my ophthalmologist who is also a high myope points out! Of course head-pointing isn't possible when playing an instrument that's always in a fixed position which render these progressive lenses useless when playing the tuba.

I've tried bifocals and executive lenses with limited success vis-a-vis reading music because of blurring from ghost images caused by their abrupt lens transitions even when the near-vision portion of the lenses is set at the proper distance. Like many of you I finally settled on 'music glasses' which are currently +1 diopter weaker than the near-vision reading portion of my normal glasses. My normal bifocal/progressive reading correction is +2.75 which yields a correction of -5.25 diopters (-8.00 + 2.75). My music glasses are single vision set at -6.25 diopters. The music is clearly in focus and although the conductors are a little blurry all of their gestures are obvious.

Whoever tests your vision, optometrist of ophthalmologist, is obligated to provide you with your prescription. If they don't do so spontaneously, ask them for it. It will contain MOST of the information you need to order glasses online. The one critical piece of data that's missing is your interpupillary distance, or PD, the distance in mm between the center of your pupils. There are ways you can do this, but it's a bit tricky.

With all this information in hand you can order your own single prescription music glasses. Generally a diopter that's around 2/3 weaker than your normal near-vision prescription could work fairly well, but it depends on your age. Be aware that the best correction would come from your eye doctor who can test your vision at 'music reading' distances. This is the frame of my current 'music glasses' coupled with the highest refractive index plastic lenses they offer. The high refractive index minimizes lateral thickness and edge reflections visible to others. My cost, with a coupon, was $102. These glasses require a hard case for protection, but I already had several of those on hand.

If you go the online route, be sure to search for valid current coupons in order to obtain the very best prices. And again, PD is key!
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby Snake Charmer » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:04 am

Meanwhile I am happy with bifocals. I started testing cheap reading half-glasses (I will make out the conductor better without correction) but found one disadvantage: I am used to old-school glasses with the bridge sitting on the dorsum. While playing with glasses with nose pads I felt some obstruction in breathing. So I took some vintage glasses to my favourite optician and now I have proper bifocals.
For tuba playing it is easy to find the proper position for the reading part for the bifocal, but you have to take not only stand and music to the optician but also the instrument. With the tuba the head movement while playing is limited, so you can define the reading position. Height adjustment of the music stand is quite important depending on chair height and floor level to the conductor.
Now I have the problem when playing trombone in the orchestra, the music stand has to be higher to get space for the slide so the top part of the sheet is above the reading part of the bifocals. Last time I scaled up the music but this will not always work. Perhaps I should use my cavalry trombone...
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby Bill Troiano » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:41 pm

In my mid 40's, I began having issues reading up close, reading music while playing and reading a conductor's score, as I was a band director in my former life. I wore gas permeable contact lenses for most of my adult life. So then, I began wearing bifocal, or multi focal contact lenses. I had the optometrist set the lens for distance and mid range so I could see distance and read music. It worked great, but it was a compromise. I couldn't see as well as I would like for either, but I got by fine. Then, I wore cheap reading glasses for up close (computer and reading a book.)

That worked fine, until my cataracts kicked in while living here in Texas. I opted for surgery last year. My insurance would cover the cost of basic lens replacement where I would still need my contacts or glasses. I opted for the Symphony lens to be implanted in my eyes, which is a multi focal lens, except now I don't need my contacts anymore. I see great at distance and well enough for reading music. For up close, I use the cheapo readers still, but I can get by without. For me, at 66 yrs. of age, it was a great decision. The only problems are; 1., insurance didn't cover the Symphony lenses, so I had to pay over $800. out of pocket. And, 2., I see halos around lights at night. The halo issue both improved and I also got used to it. Otherwise, I can see clearly at night and read signs. I'm happy I went that route.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby Worth » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:00 pm

roweenie wrote:
Tampaworth wrote:As a progressive wearer, decent quality readers has been the best solution I've come up with.


So, do you wear your progressives and reading glasses at the same time? You're not being very clear (I say this because I recall there were times that my grandmother wore two different pairs of glasses, simultaneously.... :shock: )

Strangely enough (even though I wear progressives), when I read (or do any other close-in work, such as tuba-construction-type stuff) I take off my eyeglasses and hold the book (or work, as the case may be) about 6 to 12" from my face.

I will ask my optometrist about executive lenses, maybe something like 1/3 distance and 2/3 reading. He is in Manhattan, so I've got to assume he'll have access to them (?)

The question of contact lenses and reading glasses is still on the table. If that were to work, it would be the least expensive solution.....


I do exactly what Matt Walters describes with just, for me, 2X readers. This keeps everything clear on the stand with the somewhat blurry conductor in the periphery. I can see him or her well enough to stay on the beat and don’t have to refocus across the divide of the executive glasses. Of course YMMV.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby rodgeman » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:14 pm

Radar wrote:
Three Valves wrote:I had single vision lenses made just for computer/work/music.

I have the same issue and that's been my solution as well!!


I have done this also. My regular glasses are progressives.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby Ulli » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:21 pm

Look at my old- fashioned, special hand-made glasses:

http://www.rurland-bigband.de/" target="_blank" target="_blank
(me with the upright string bass)

Glasses made by Rodenstock

https://www.rodenstock.de/de/de/sonderanfertigung.html" target="_blank" target="_blank

Glasses frame typ: Panto

I am very satisfied with it since about ten years.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby GC » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:23 pm

I wear standard-vision contacts for distance vision and use +1.50 cheap reading glasses for music and computers. Those serve well enough for reading paper print, too. I also tend to use skinny-top or half lenses to read the music and watch the conductor over them. Actually, I tend to walk around with them all day.

My wife wears progressives and constantly complains about them. I think they're a terrible solution for reading music because of their narrow sweet spot. I have regular bifocals for times when I go without contacts, but they don't work as well for music as the contacts/readers method. Of course, I haven't had their prescription adjusted in quite a while, but change my contact prescription whenever needed.
Last edited by GC on Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby ghmerrill » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:07 pm

In my experience, one thing you want to avoid is having to tilt your head up, or tilt it down, or hold it in a certain static position in order to read the music (or anything else for that matter).

Before I had my "cateract surgery", and for a number of years, I used three sets of glasses: (1) bifocals for normal walking around, driving, etc.; (2) "music glasses" for (duh) reading music, working at a computer (where I spent most of my day -- given my job), and, in general anything that was "within arm's grasp" (description provided by the optometrist); and (3) outdoor/sports glasses for stuff like tennis, kayaking, etc. I got used to carting them about with me, and it was an expensive solution, but I was making enough money at the time not to worry about it. This approach allowed me to play music (generally tuba) without having to hold my head in a peculiar position or within a narrow range of motion.

Once NC switched off its "acuity criterion" to a "quality of life criterion" for cataract surgery, I got the surgery and the result was vision like I hadn't had since I was about 12. Truly amazing, and with about a $2,000 boost out of pocket, it totally fixed my pretty severe astigmatism as well. I have 20/20 distance vision and use dollar store reading glasses (different strengths for music or reading) which I scatter around the house, truck, car, shop, etc. as necessary. I've gone back to some competitive shooting with iron sights. And when I work outside in the NC summers, I don't have to wipe off my lenses any longer.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby roweenie » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:45 pm

GC wrote:I wear standard-vision contacts for distance vision and have +1.50 cheap reading glasses for music and computers. Those serve well enough for reading paper print, too .


This is what I wanted to know.....

I haven't worn contacts for several years, so I don't have any on hand to test the theory for myself. I've got to assume that if you've got contact lenses that properly correct your distance vision, it would be as if you only need reading glasses, to see the music.

Maybe what I'll do is ask my optometrist if I can wear a sample pair of contacts and readers in my strength in his shop, and go from there. I'm not a big fan of contacts, but it may be the best compromise for my situation, and it will have the added benefit of freeing me from prescription dark glasses, too - I understand you can also get cheap reader dark glasses.

One step further - has anyone had any experience with Lasik surgery? I've thought about it, but I think I'm too much of a chicken to actually do it....
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby GC » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:11 pm

Hope it works for you.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby rtucker5612 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:16 pm

I wear multifocal contact lenses (rigid gas permeable). They work great, but they’re not cheap - $375 per lense. However, I’ve had my current pair for over 5 years, so not too bad when amortized.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby TheTuba » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:52 am

roweenie wrote:
GC wrote:I wear standard-vision contacts for distance vision and have +1.50 cheap reading glasses for music and computers. Those serve well enough for reading paper print, too .


This is what I wanted to know.....

I haven't worn contacts for several years, so I don't have any on hand to test the theory for myself. I've got to assume that if you've got contact lenses that properly correct your distance vision, it would be as if you only need reading glasses, to see the music.

Maybe what I'll do is ask my optometrist if I can wear a sample pair of contacts and readers in my strength in his shop, and go from there. I'm not a big fan of contacts, but it may be the best compromise for my situation, and it will have the added benefit of freeing me from prescription dark glasses, too - I understand you can also get cheap reader dark glasses.

One step further - has anyone had any experience with Lasik surgery? I've thought about it, but I think I'm too much of a chicken to actually do it....

Lasik using too bad, one of my uncles had it. Of course, it can be done under 15 min, but I'm sure that at your age that some parts won't heal as fast. Lasik also works best with myopia. Ask your doctor, he should be able to guide or refer you to someone who works in the field.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby dmmorris » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:11 am

Thumbs up on the The "executive" lenses concept.

I had them made with the bottom two thirds set for the distance to the stand and just the the top one third for the infinity range "single vision".

....really works well. The optician didn't get it at first, but was on board one the concept clicked.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby ghmerrill » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:41 am

My wife has done the contact lenses + reading glasses for years. It works well for her, including for playing piano.

Lasik methodology is a solution only to a restricted set of conditions. The more general solution tends to be intraocular lens replacement (aka, in most cases, "cataract surgery"). But the cost and insurance issues are very different for that. However, if you're "of a certain age" -- even if you don't have (or don't think you have) significant cataracts -- it may very well be worth a visit to a good ophthalmologist to see what options you might qualify for, and what the cost to you might be.

If it weren't for having to pay the extra cost out of pocket for toric intraocular lenses to fix my astigmatism, my IOL surgery would have cost me practically nothing. Medicare, in its infinite governmental wisdom, views astigmatism as something that "can be" treated with glasses -- after you've already gone through the major expense of implanting non-toric intraocular lenses. (And now, thanks largely to the "Affordable Care Act" act, secondary insurers have had to fall into line and not pay for things Medicare doesn't approve.) I expect that will change some time in the near future, but there you have it. However, the extra $2,000 it cost me for the "special (non-covered)" lenses was one of the best expenditures I've every made. Changed my life.
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Re: Old(er) eyes

Postby paulver » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:50 am

I always wondered why my college piano prof had these glasses that made his eyeballs look the size of cow eyes while he was playing! After turning 44 years old.... I got my answer! After getting my progressive bifocals, I couldn't read music very well.... I mean I was struggling. So, I went to WalMart and bought the single lens readers. Cheap and very effective. I have several pairs that I keep in my tuba case, on my piano, and on my music stand.

Obviously, everyone is different, but this was a very simple solution for me.

My wife used to think I was a little eccentric about the issue..... right up to the point where the same thing happened to her!!
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