Monday, February 23, 2015

Presbyopia

I had a very rare free night last week that enabled me to go blow off a little steam at the range. It had been a while since I had had a chance to play with my Ruger 22/45. Several months, in fact. I had upgraded the sights to the fiber optic front/v-notch rear sights that come standard on the Mark III Hunter sometime since the last range trip, and I was anxious to get it zeroed and see how they performed.

More importantly, I was anxious to see how I would perform. And not just because of the cobwebs that accumulate on the skills from lack of use either. The reason for the anxiousness (and the upgraded sights) is that my eyesight has been slowly getting worse, and I needed to see if the new sights would help or make things worse.

After reveling in perfect to near perfect eyesight all my life, I was slightly dismayed a few years ago to get the verdict from the eye doc that I was now farsighted with 20/25 vision. Okay, that's not the end of the world and well short of being legally blind. What he didn't tell me (or, perhaps, I didn't hear) was that presbyopia comes with the aging process.

Why is this important to shooters, you might ask? (you really should be asking, by the way)

For those not yet initiated or familiar with this "harmless" condition, presbyopia "is a condition associated with aging in which the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects." (source Wikipedia) See where this is going yet (no pun intended)? Yep, for me, everything inside of arm's length (and I've got a pretty generous wingspan), more or less, is a blur. That includes the front sight on most weapons.

Yes, my love affair with parentheticals marches on gleefully unabated (I would seek therapy, but where's the fun in that?)

Anywho, the sight upgrade was an experiment to see if the fiber optic front sight would stand out better to my, now less capable, eyes than the standard black front blade sight since focusing on the front sight is one of the cornerstones of proper marksmanship fundamentals.

And the short answer is...not so much.

In fact, if anything, the bright red front fiber optic sight was BLURRIER than the standard, black, front blade sight. Of course, that could just be my perception/memory from the last range trip many moons ago.

The blurriness made sighting in a chore until I bowed to the inevitable and put my cheater readers on under my safety glasses. It was a little awkward, but man was that front sight SHARP with the cheaters on. Of course, with the cheaters on, there was no distinguishing the point of aim at the target except in the most general sense of the word. There was a target shaped blob down range. Beyond that, it was put the front sight in the general middle and hope for the best.

So, no, there will be no photos of targets today.

I will, gratefully, tell you that all rounds found the target. I could manage a quarter sized hole at 3 yards. At 7 yards, the dispersion was not hideous with some rounds touching and others at least in the same zip code. At 15 yards, things were starting to really open up a bit (though not quite to shotgun pattern status), and I didn't press my luck at 20 yards.

That brings us to the $64,000 question of what do I (or anyone else with a similar problem) do about it.

The most expensive option is Lasik surgery. Not in the cards for me right now.

Next up is eyewear. Progressive (i.e. bifocals and no line bifocals) lenses are supposedly a viable workaround for the problem. I will be discussing this with my eye doc the next time I see which will be after I get a full time job again with the associated health and vision coverage.

Another option is to go with optics. The 22/45 has a rail on it which Ruger thoughtfully included in the box. I have a cheap red dot that I bought for it. Let's just say I was underwhelmed (perhaps I need to revisit it again with a renewed interest).

Red dots have their pluses and minuses like any other system. All but the best can be prone to washing out in bright sunlight. They require batteries (unless you want to drop over $1000 on an ACOG). Depending on the dot size, they are less precise than scopes. On the plus side, they put the target and the reticle on more or less the same focal plane which is where they become of interest to me. For a competition or bedside gun, this may not be a bad option.

Since this is not a home defense or low light gun, a handgun scope may be a better solution for this particular gun. Scopes are great for precision. Speed...not so much. Perhaps with practice, speed would improve. Then again, perhaps speed is overrated since the objective is to put rounds on target with precision.

Bottomline, if you are middle aged or getting there as fast as you can, it's probably a good idea to start thinking about how your eyesight is going to change as you age and how it will impact your ability to shoot. There are solutions, but you need to think about which will be the best for you for each application.

7 comments:

GunDiva said...

I do hate thinking about it. I truly do, but I started running into this problem a few years ago. I started painting my front sight different colors to see if I can distinguish one better than the other. The answer was sort of. I had my prescription for my contacts renewed and it sort of helped. There are, apparently, eye doctors in my area who are shooters and who are willing (for a price of course) to make special shooting lenses set so you can see your front sight. I sounded expensive, so I decided I'd just keep on keeping on until I have no other choice.

Daddy Hawk said...

GunDiva, I hear you. I can't stand contacts and the thought of letting anyone near my eyes with a knife or laser has me reflexively twitching my trigger finger. So, for now, I'll be looking to set up my guns with optics to the extent possible. The exception would be my carry gun which will likely wind up with a compact laser.

Michael Em said...

Yep, it is happening to me as well. Large adjustable target sights are magically appearing on my handguns and optics are growing on my rifles. Iron sights will one day be a thing of the past for me. Luckily, glasses fixes most of my problems. But nothing can solve my addiction to high quality and expensive optics such as aimpoint, Nightforce and Elcan.

Daddy Hawk said...

Michael, I just hate it when things appear/grow on my weapons. Especially when they are pretty and shiny and make hitting the target so much easier.

We can make a stab at curing your addiction to high quality, expensive optics. First, you must admit that there is a problem. Next, you must give all your optics to a trusted sponsor (I'm happy to volunteer) who will help you through the other 11 steps.

If that don't work, there's always electro shock therapy.

Momma Fargo said...

Yep. Same here. I went to a new experimental contact that moves and turns with my vision adjustment. They are the bomb diggety and I don't need readers and I can see far like an eagle. However, they are $1000 a year. Thank you, Jesus, for insurance.

Daddy Hawk said...

Momma Fargo, that sounds interesting. I still hate contacts (I hate the whole ookie pokie in the eye thing) though. So, it's optics for me.

Momma Fargo said...

Yeah, I was the same until I couldn't play sports or be a cop with them on. I kept getting my glasses knocked off. Our insurance does one thing a year...either a year's supply of contacts or one pair of glasses, not both. My glasses are from 2012 and not real effective since I am going blind. I have opted for contacts the last two years. If I had to pay that out of my pocket, there is no way I would do it. I would opt for a cheaper type of vision correction. These contacts were weird at first. It took about a day to get used to them. They are ultra thin and wonderful. There should be some optics choices out there. Both of the eye docs I have had were keen on making my vision work for police work and shooting both.