The is was my first eye test since my autism diagnosis. I decided that rather than walking to the train station I would take the car so that I had more time to get myself together in the morning (image of finding limbs and organs scattered around the house) and would help me get back sooner to the house. I had some slight anxiety because I parked was on unoccupied business ground which feels a bit wrong, but my wife assures me it is fine. I had time to book a blood pressure check with my GP nurse just down the road and then walked to the front of the train station. Normally I would go in the rear entrance but my train left from the front side plus the ticket machine there is more reliable. Prepaid tickets obtained I went to the platform to wait. It was cold but clear so I felt fine standing in a patch of sunshine.
All had gone smoothly. I had minimised the stress of travelling so far but then I looked at the departure board. My train was delayed. It didn’t say for how long. I got out my mobile and checked the train company application. There was a signalling fault in Glasgow. My anxiety notched up a level or two. How late could I be? I needed to get from Glasgow Queen Street to Glasgow Central, a ten minute walk at most for me. The frequency of trains from Glasgow to Ayr seemed very high so as long as I could get to Glasgow I would probably be fine. I have a good buffer of time so I tried to calm myself down. As it turns out the train trundled in two minutes late. I was standing at the wrong end of the platform which didn’t surprise me since I noticed the orientation of a train going in the opposite direction. My seat was reserved and thankfully nobody was sitting in it. I made myself comfortable, got out my laptop and finished my previous post. Time passes by quickly when I am writing. I had only just finished the article when the train was arriving in Queen Street. I had made an effort to be consistent in putting my ticket in the same pocket so I made it through the barriers without panicking that I had lost my outward pass.
Some of the station exits were closed due to building works so I chose one I felt was the right direction (I didn’t recognise the street name) and headed out. It was fine. I crossed George Square noting the parking cone was missing from the Duke’s head and walked through the main shopping area to get to the Central station. I had time on my hands and decided that I should buy some food in a Coop to reduce anxiety about what to do in Ayr for lunch. I was quite quick in deciding what I would include in my meal deal, paid and walked on to the station. I had just missed a train but there was another in six minutes time so I went for that one. I got on the train and walked down it to find a quieter area. There was a reassuring sign informing me of the stops on the way to Ayr. I always have an anxiety that I am on the wrong train which is make more acute when the train line is unfamiliar.
I remember three things about that journey. When the ticket collector came along, I had no memory of where I have put my ticket so I had a bit of a panic. After telling the official I could remember having a ticket, I found it in my designated pocket, thankfully. I wanted to sleep on the train but I was afraid that I would miss my stop. This was unwarranted because the train terminated at Ayr but I didn’t know that then. The train stopped right next to Glasgow Preswick airport. I had always thought this was an awkward airport to get to, so I never tried. It is really easy by train though.
I arrived in Ayr with over an hour to spare. The town was bigger than I expected and similarly had a bigger shopping centre. I decided to wonder around. I found the optician’s easily enough and worked my way to the beach where I thought I might eat my lunch. It was breezy down the front and I felt the cold wind keenly on my bare legs. I didn’t want to stop to eat. I took some photos then spotted a bench that looked like a shelter sunspot. It was and I enjoyed sitting there absorbing some heat from the sun, munching my lunch. I did find the bench a bit disconcerting though. It was metal and I could feel it creaking (not hear it though) through my body whenever I moved. I set myself a time when I would leave the bench and head to the opticians. This saved me fretting about when to leave but left me with worrying about whether I had left enough time. Again, it was fine as I had a couple of minutes spare when I walked through the optician’s door.
I never know what is the right thing to say to receptionists when I turn up for an appointment. I usually plumb for something along the lines of a greeting, saying when my appointment is and telling them my name. It may feel awkward but it seems to do the job. I answered questions about my personal details, signed a box, read a disclosure agreement and then signed that I had understood what it said. I have no real idea what was in that disclosure now but it seemed fine at the time.
I sat and waited. An older woman sat to my left and in front a younger woman was trying to resist her arm being pushed down by a chatty large man by imagining different scenarios. I have no idea what it had to do with spectacle wearing. A woman came over and asked for my glasses so she could check their prescription. When she returned them, they were cleaner as expected but also the arms were much harder to move. I felt a bit annoyed that she hadn’t told me she had done that. It now feels like my whole frame bends when I fold the arms in and out. I don’t think I like that.
She took me through for the actual eye examination. It was more thorough than I am used to. The images of the back of my eyes more detailed including perpendicular contour slices I hadn’t seen before. In general I would have liked a bit more information on what was going to happen. The machine testing my angle of view, also tested light sensitivity but I didn’t know that at the beginning and may have unintentionally missed some of the fainter spots. Interesting it said my right eye was more sensitive than my left whereas I would have said it was the other way around. On other thing that bothered me was the noise level of all the machines. The retina scanner, the eye pressure tester and the field of view machines all made a disturbing amount of noise which I found distracting. I wonder if they can be made quieter but I suppose I could have worn ear defenders. It didn’t occur to me to cover my ears at the time.
As usual my long sight had not changed much, but my shorter sight had a bit. I discovered that the focal point for a set distance was in a different vertical place on each lens which I hadn’t considered as possible before. I suspect this is a major part of my discomfort with my current prescription. The chatty man turned out to be the guy that has been experimenting with coloured lenses in order to support people with special needs which in my case is autism. He asked me many questions to ascertain what issue I might be having and if coloured lenses might help. All of my issues seemed to be prescription based aside from my headaches. He took me into the machine room where I looked at a grid of black lines under different primary colours with different intensities. It turns out I have a preference for green light at high intensities and red light at low intensities. This apparently makes me unusual.
The outcome of this colour testing? He suggested that we try applying a coating to my lenses that acts as a notch filter and blocks out some blue light. Trying it out with some hand filters I wonder how effective it might be but I have gone with his recommendation because even a small effect might have a big benefit on my headaches. I won’t know until I try it. He was very upfront about not knowing if it would do me any good. He helped me pick out some new frames and we talked about what varifocal lenses to go for. The total price was very reasonable, might lower than I expected so I was happy about that. I even went for some rather, for me, daring frames. I think my true self may be coming out in my glasses this time which was rather unexpected. My time in the optician’s took twice as long as I expected, a full two hours. This had a knock on effect of having to “waste” an hour in Glasgow before my ticket was valid to get back home. This wasn’t a problem. I visited a few supermarkets to see if anything called to me (turned out to be flapjacks and crisps) and went to a café to drink a coffee.
Was it worth the trip down to Ayr? I am please with myself that I went more than anything because it shows to me that I care about myself more. It is about self-respect perhaps. Hopefully the new lenses will improve my headaches but I won’t be convinced until I try them. The colour testing felt a bit unscientific for me. I may be unusual as an autistic person on my colour preferences but I wonder if everybody, autistic or not, would have such preferences and might benefit from such an examination? I am considering whether to get some long distance single prescription lenses tinted yellow (which will remove more blue light) to help with driving. In general, my suspicion is that I would need more than the notch filter suggested to help my headaches.
As for the colour testing itself, I think you could do this yourself at home. If like me you have a multicoloured LED light that can be controlled via WiFi by an app, you could try out the experiment yourself. The test in the optician focused on primary colours but I might try it out with secondary colours too to see what happens. Like a lot of autistic people, I like sitting alone in subdued lighting. When I do this I switch my LED bulbs down low and choose a reddish orange colour. I chose this colour without any scientific test, it was just my preference form all the colours available. So, it may be that you already know the answer to part of the colour test I undertook.