Jewelry Making and Vision Problems


Be ready to supply your actual prescription (get it from your
optometrist if you don't know it) and to be clear about what you're

I’d highly recommend an OPTHAMOLOGIST if you want the highest level
of care for your eyes. They are actually MD’s, and can tell you more
about, and do more to treat, your eyes than optometrists. Especially
important, because I don’t know any blind jewelers.


Off-list inquiries inspire me to clarify my post:

My trifocals are non-progressive and only for working. They were
designed so that the “distance” is what I would need to see what a
class instructor is doing, the “middle” is so I can find the tool I’m
looking for, and the “close” is considerably closer than reading
distance (but still annoys me).

In addition, the “close” and the “middle” are reversed from their
normal position, i.e. the “close” is actually in the middle of the
lens, not at the bottom. I tend to look down when I’m searching for a
tool and straight ahead when I’m fussing with a tiny piece of wire.

Lisa Orlando

I went to my optometrist and ordered a really cheap Kenmark >frame
(they can be had for about $30 - not pretty, but they're quite
functional in the studio). Then I had a pair of LARGE bifocal
glasses prepared -- the top half is half as strong as my regular
reading prescription, so that I can actually see my torch. The
bottom half is twice my reading prescription, so that I can see my
work at about the 4-6" distance. 

This is a great idea! I’m calling my optometrist on Tuesday! But I
wonder if there might be more useful alternative focal lengths for
bench work, such as 1 1/2X reading prescription on top, 2 1/2-3X on
the bottom. Any thoughts?

I would also wonder about the possible effects of having to hold the
head in perhaps an uncomfortable position to accomodate a particular
lens. But, on paper, this looks like a terrific solution to the visor
problem. Thanks!

Allan Mason

…and for a really lo-tech solution, I have magnifying spectacles
scattered around my work benches, and just put on a pair over my
regular specs - seems to work just FINE. I think I stole this from
Alan Revere…

Ivy S. Fasko
Contemporary Handcrafted Jewelry

Try UC Berkeley’s Eye Clinic at the Optometry School. They made me a
pair of glasses with the bottom half only correcting my astigmatism
so I can use my very near sighted eyes to see close up and the top
half with a prescription at reading glasses strength to see what’s on
my bench when I look up to get a tool. A little hard to see clearly
where I’m walking if I get up from the bench to get something but
otherwise I love not having to crane my neck to see over the top of
my glasses anymore for close up work… I rarely have to resort to the
optivisior anymore. The optometry student and supervising doctor at
the Optometry School were really excited about helping me get this
strange pair of glasses made. Something out of the ordinary for them
and a good learning experience for the student.

Cynthia Clearwater
Touchstone Jewelry Design
25A Crescent Drive #306
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 285-0684

Hi Marya -

On the subject of vision problems, My doctor believes I may be
getting cataracts as an exacerbation of Crohn's disease. 

My sympathies! I have Crohn’s slightly less evil twin, ulcerative
colitis, and that’s always the first connection I check when my eyes
start misbehaving. I wish you the best.


On the subject of vision problems, My doctor believes I may be
getting cataracts as an exacerbation of Crohn's disease. Have any
of you, my fellow Orchidians, ever had cataracts? More to the
point, have you had them removed and how was your vision

I’m 56 and have had one cataract. It was operated on painlessly and
the new lens they inserted is excellent. Individual experiences
vary, and some see clearly the day after the op, but in my case my
vision was hazy for about a month afterwards, with a whiteish haze
over everything and halos around lights. Then… it cleared up.
Perfectly clear now.

However there is one thing you need to know about the Intra-Ocular
Lens (IOC) they put in your eye to replace your original lens. It’s
more rigid that a natural lens and so does not have the same
‘compensation’ between distance and near vision. It’s more fixed. If
you get an IOL set to excellent distance vision, then you will
always have to wear plus-corrective glasses for bedtime reading,
sawing gold, filing, reading recipes, checking the temperature
setting on the oven, etc.

So there is nowadays a trend to ask for some residual myopia in the
IOL. That is, to ask for an IOL that will give you a little bit of
short-sightedness. With about 1 diopter of short-sightedness you
will probably be able read in bed, read the phone book, read recipes,
make jewellery, etc etc, possibly watch the telly without glasses.
However for distance you’ll need to correct the -1.00 to zero so as
to pass the driving test.

To my mind it makes much more sense to have vision that is excellent
for the majority of your working day and to use one pair of specs
for driving, movies, concerts, etc, than to have perfect sight for
distance but always require various pairs of reading glasses lying
around the house/studio.

Some cataract operations will also do a ‘snip’ and correct
astigmatism as well.

It’s an imprecise craft, measuring for IOLs and snipping for
astigmatism. But most patients come out with better vision than
before. Regarding residual myopia 80% or thereabouts get what they
ask for (with some extra correction by contacts or spectacles). The
rest come out with clear vision but with more tiresome requirements
for extra correction.

For more discussion and info I recommend subscribing to


Be ready to supply your actual prescription (get it from your
optometrist if you don’t know it) and to be clear about what you’re

I'd highly recommend an OPTHAMOLOGIST if you want the highest
level of care for your eyes. They are actually MD's, and can tell
you more about, and do more to treat, your eyes than optometrists. 

I agree up to a point. It’s very important, I beleive, to have
regular check-ups with your ophthamologist (eye doctor) but they are
not always the best for refractive issues. That is, measuring your
vision and dispensing corrective lenses. Optometrists are possibly
better trained and more up to date in this area.

But DON’T see your optometrist for anything related to eye health.
There’s a grey are of expertise between optometry and ophthamology,
and sometimes an optometrist make a judgement about eye health that
they’re really not so experienced at.

My optometrist failed to pick up my detached retina, confidently
identified it as a ‘floater’, leading to a delay in treatment of the
detached retina.


B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y

Another Dental perspective:

The current trend in dentistry is to have the dental students learn
to work using magnifying loops.

There are various models and types available ranging from about 2x
to 4.3x in magnifying power. They also range from headgear with swing
down mini binocular devices (with xenon lites!) to safety glasses
with portholes filled with magnifying lenses to clip ons.

I have used my wife’s magnifiers, as well as the loops of
yester-year: an aluminum headband with a post on a swivel with a pair
of lenses attached (2x). This last one is the one I am most
comfortable with, but I have also used the Zeiss 4.3x on the

The prices range from about 25 (optivisor) to 1500 (Zeiss). There is
a learning curve to all of these, but they do make a difference. Now
the last idea may be the most expensive, but the most interesting:
using a digital camera or video camera displaying on a flat screen. I
have seen this kind of system in use in dental office: a microscope
hooked up to stereo cameras and projected on a 72 x 72 inch screen at
a final magnification of 132x! The dentist looks thru 3-D glasses and
directly at the screen. It is amazing what you can see. The point is
that it could take a little experimentation and some getting used to
looking at a monitor, but I think that this has potential.

Charles Friedman DDS
USC Dental School

I had my opthamologist prescribe lenses for them that were for the
distance range I chose. My solution was to keep my regular glasses
as single vision lenses - these frames came with a flip up and down
sunglass attachment that’s held on both by magnets and tabs that fit
into a slot near the arms(legs?) of the frames. I had them put my
adjusted bifocal prescription into lenses that fit the sunglass
attachment. So I sit at my bench with my regular glasses - for being
nearsighted - and when I need to see something closer -like stone
setting, even some soldering I can flip down my “shades” which are
the clear glass close-up prescription. When I need to look up or get
up from my bench - I flip them back up and I can see the room again.
Works pretty well, I can even put my visor down over that too if I


My mother had cataracts. She had them removed and her vision was
great afterward. The cataracts had really changed her color
perception which was corrected with the surgeries!

Vicki Embrey

Hi Marya, I had a cataract removed from my left eye my vision is
beter than it was.the procedure only took about 20 min.they remove
the lens with the cataract and replace it with a lens implant, I was
nearsighted in my left eye now I have 20/20 vision.

This may sound really silly but I have on occasion worn a pair of
cheap drug store magnifiers on top of my regular glasses when I
really need close magnification. Talk about 4 eyes becoming 6!! I
thought it would be very uncomfortable but after a few minutes I
can’t even feel them and I don’t get that tunnel feeling you get from
an optivisor. It’s cheap and gets me the detail I need for certain
procedures. Works in a pinch.


I respect your input in this area. I so well know and love your
wonderful Sterling Silver frames. What I find is that too many do
not question their opthamologist in advance of surgery and have no
clue what the correction will be.

Too many of the people nearing “senior” years were well taught to
respect and not question their doctors.

The first reaction to the suggestion of surgery, is abject fear,
followed by doom and gloom. As we can see from some of the comments
put forth here, eye surgery is put too far on the back burner for far
too long.

There are several issues now. In the last couple of years, a lens
has been developed that adjusts for both near and far. I had my first
eye done in advance of its accepted release, with the knowledge that
I could have it changed out if I so chose.

When I spoke with my opthamologist about it, he suggested not to do
so, telling me there were patients who had to deal with unacceptable

By coincidence I linked up via internet with a fellow coworker who
was having the surgery. Her post surgery did not go as well as hoped
for. I determined she had had the newest and most expensive implants.
Yes the very ones that caused glare, and she was one of the minority
that had the glare. That is not over yet.

My implants are now so well settled that to change them out is not

Again, I encourage bold communication with your opthamologist, not
optometrist. Do not fear the procedure, and love the results.
Monovision is not hard to adjust to.


My father was an opthalmologist, opthalmic surgeon and also
dispensed and consulted at a local optemetrist for many years in the
UK - now retired. Perhaps you may find a similar professional who is
able to advise on many different levels if you enquire.

Good luck
:slight_smile: Kimmyg

Have any of you, my fellow Orchidians, ever had cataracts? More to
the point, have you had them removed and how was your vision
afterwords? Marya (seriously bummed out in central Ohio) 

Yes, Marya, I’ve had cataracts. Having them removed is a piece of
cake, and I see really well now.


In response to recent questions, I did try other focal lengths at
first, and they didn’t work as well for me. Originally I had the
glasses made up with my regular reading prescription on top, and 3x
my reading on the bottom, and found I had trouble seeing anything
anywhere on my bench. 3x my reading was too close up! So I had these
adjusted because I am either trying to see my torch (which is a
little farther away than the end of my arm) or something at about
4-6", which is good with 2x my reading prescription. In vision, the
distance from you to the object you’re trying to see is critical!
And having large lenses for the glasses gives me lots of room to
see, in addition to lots of protection from little flying objects. I
don’t work well with progressive lenses and find these are great for
the purpose. A cheap, low-tech version (thanks, Noel!) might be to
take a pair of standard safety glasses, put a light magnification
stick-on on the top, and a higher magnification stick-on on the
bottom, and voila, a combo safety-glass Optivisor thingie!

And as for the opthamologist vs. optometrist question, I may go to
an MD for surgery, but I sure don’t want them making my glasses…
and an optometrist is qualified to do everything with my eyes except
slice and dice them. ODs perform a full exam to determine eye health
in addition to refraction. Full disclosure - my son’s dad has been
my optometrist for 20 years. One final industry secret - if you have
a pair of glasses made and they don’t seem right, take them back and
have them remade without charge. Industry standard is one free redo
within 6 months, and in some cases it can be up to a year.

Happy seeing!


Have any of you, my fellow Orchidians, ever had cataracts? More to
the point, have you had them removed and how was your vision
afterwords? Marya (seriously bummed out in central Ohio) 

I have had cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants in both
eyes. It has been just over a year ago. Before the surgery I was
blind in my right eye. I couldn’t resolve any image at any distance
with any level of magnification. The left eye, fortunately, was not
so bad. My ophthalmologist recommended surgery on the right eye, and
told me that after that I would be asking to have my left eye done.
The results were immediate and spectacular. As a matter of fact, one
of the most protracted few weeks of my life (maybe exceeded by
military basic training) was the wait for the second eye to be
operated. My vision is better that it has ever been. I’ve been
driving for over 50 years and always had to wear glasses, but now
have visual acuity so good that I can legally drive without glasses.

When the doctor took the patch off my right eye just a few hours
after surgery I could not believe the colors! I had no idea that I
was living in a vividly colored world that I saw only in pastels.
Between the operations I was continually covering my right eye to see
the colors go away and then switching to appreciated the intensity
and beauty of the colors. Even after all this time I am constantly
amazed at what a beautiful, colorful world we live in.

Go for it! Don’t waste another precious moment of life without being
able to see clearly and in COLOR! (Sorry for shouting–I kinda get
carried away.)

Del Pearson in Beautiful, Colorful, South Texas.

My doctor believes I may be getting cataracts as an exacerbation of
Crohn's disease. Have any of you, my fellow Orchidians, ever had

Yes I have had Cataract’s and had them removed and replaced with
plastic lenses. Vision improvement was immediate and after about 10
years no problems at all


Hi Tina!

No, believe it or not, I’ve been talking to ophthamologists. Three
of them so far. I’ve even mentioned the little telescopes. They all
knew what I was talking about, although the opticians they sent me to
didn’t. I got to educate them. I last looked into this about a year
ago; that team said that type of eyewear cost about $600, and I said
forget it.

It was the stone setting class that really did it! My inability to
see was making it difficult for me to learn to do flush setting,
which I really wanted to learn, so I sought out yet another
ophthamologist to investigate once again getting the problem solved.
This time I was willing to consider spending that much. But, before I
did, I wanted to ask my community of experts for their solutions
[that’s you guys.]

As a result of which, I am now looking into some progressive bifocal
contact lenses, which the latest optician didn’t even know existed
until I asked her about it because of someone on the Orchid list.

I am going to investigate these lenses plus a clip-on loupe attached
to safety glasses. I hope this solution works because it would result
in NO glasses on the bench in front of me, and a close-up solution
that I only have to flip up to get out of the way.

And, I’m also talking to Orchid’s Dr. Mac, who so graciously offered
his assistance.

Will report back when I have news.