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The 'Glasses Apostle' in the altarpiece of the...
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Did you know that shipbuilders’ bifocals have the reading prescription on top?

Did you know that you can ask for what you want in a prescription?

After seeing several ophthalmologists, I may have figured it out… for now.

A doctor I saw recently really didn’t “get” it.  I was discussing what I needed to see as a collaborative pianist.  (Everything!)  There is a whole list of varying distances at which other musicians need to be seen clearly, in addition to the music being in different places.

I told him about the music rack on an upright, a grand piano, a grand piano on a dolly, a violinist standing in back of my right shoulder, a singer standing in the crook of the piano, a cellist at various places on the stage, and a conductor 1/2 way across the room.  He may have thought I was nuts.

The doctor’s response?  “The prescription for what you need doesn’t exist!”

So… I changed doctors!

In my first appointment with my present ophthalmologist, my long list of requirements didn’t phase him at all.  He reached into his desk drawer, took out a sheet of violin music, rigged it up in front of me, and said, “How’s that?”

He plays string quartets every week!  Now all my musician friends go to him.

That’s what you need.  If you haven’t found a prescription that works, keep looking.

The first doctor mentioned above suggested that I needed trifocals!  Can you imagine trying to read music through that tiny area in the middle of your glasses?  I didn’t think so.

A cellist friend discussed what she needed with her doctor, but the prescription wasn’t satisfactory.  So she loaded up her cello, a chair, a stand, and some music, and played in his office.  Sometimes you have to be persistent.

My solution

So far, this has been fine for a few years now.  I have progressive bifocal lenses in my glasses.  The reading prescription is higher than usual ~ 1/2 of the lens.  The top 1/2 is for distance.

Piano glasses

If and when I need to, I will also purchase a pair of “piano glasses.”  They would be single-prescription, with the middle vision correction throughout.


A friend of mine who is a singer wears contacts.  Her solution is to wear the distance prescription in one eye and the reading prescription in the other.  She says it takes about three days to adjust after wearing glasses regularly.  She hasn’t switched to anything else yet, so it must be working.

What’s your solution?  Do you wear glasses?  Contacts?  Which type?  How does that work?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Be sure to take advantage of the book sale!  “Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer ~ make steady progress without getting stuck!  E-book and print versions available now.  Kindle version coming soon.

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