Forty-five years is the age at which if you haven’t had to wear glasses usually you will find yourself reaching for cheap reading specs in your local supermarket.  I managed to stave off the inevitable until I was fifty-two.  Then the rot set in. It started off well enough. For a good few years, I rubbed along with 1.5 magnification. Then my sight started to go downhill.  In the last eighteen months I found myself needing ever stronger glasses.  Eventually I was up to a magnification of 3.0 and had begun to have issues with my long sight.  The collective banditry of High Street opticians - it seems the only difference between them and Dick Turpin is that they don’t wear masks and carry guns - fitted me with a pair of varifocals at an extortionate cost of several hundreds of pounds.  Returning a year later I was told my eyes had further deteriorated and I would need my prescription changed to 3.5 times.  Time to look again.

By some kind of ocular serendipity, it appeared I was now continually surrounded by people who had had surgical lens replacements.   This operation used to be reserved for those with cataracts – age-related cloudiness that eventually can lead to total blindness if not treated.  I had been informed that I had cataracts in both eyes, but they were too small to qualify for referral to the NHS for free treatment. On further enquiry I discovered you had to be virtually purblind before you qualified.  Was this an example of age-related rationing, with the State relying on so many people dropping off the twig before they got round to having their cataracts removed?  Even if you did qualify you could only have a static lens - no varifocals for the common man. You couldn’t even pay the difference for a multifocal lens.

So, I looked at the private option.  Health insurance doesn’t cover it either, so I had to dip into savings. Friends who had already shelled out several thousand on new lenses pronounced the surgery the best thing they had ever done.  “I cannot get over the colours I am seeing.”  “Everything is so sharp - near and far.”

My eyes were getting worse and worse.  I needed one set of glasses for the computer; another for reading, which I do a lot of for both business and pleasure.  The varifocals were not easy in practice.  I reverted to two pairs of glasses which was OK until you came to shopping, when you had to juggle two sets of glasses while reading the small print on whatever it was you were thinking of buying.

Off I went to an eye specialist.  He explained the potential joy of the Symfony lens - the latest from the US firm Johnson & Johnson.  This high-tech innovation uses Fresnel lens principles to offer an amazing range of sight.  Excited at the prospect of casting aside my specs   I signed up. You get one eye done at a time with a few weeks in between.  A squeamish friend in the pub was doubled up in conniptions as he contemplated the thought of a scalpel bearing down on the naked eye.  “Don’t tell me they don’t knock you out!”  “No,” said I, “Apparently it’s all done under local anaesthetic.”  I had to catch him as he swooned.

The surgery is nothing if not weird. A local anaesthetic means there’s no pain, although you are aware of some discomfort.  “Just keep looking at the bright lights,” said my surgeon. So I did, and it was all over in under fifteen minutes.  Then it’s a regime of eye drops for three weeks and an eye patch at night.   Within a day, I realised why I had paid for HD TV.   What’s more, I am writing this with no specs - for the first time in nearly two decades.