imageIronically, getting new glasses and being able to see clearly again led to my realization that my vision is actually getting worse.

I guess it was bound to happen. My hair started going grey something like fifteen years ago, and after the early stages of trying to pluck those annoying white strands out of my beard, I shrugged, sighed, and lived with it. I was able to convince myself it was just a cosmetic thing, and besides, it made me look a little distinguished.

But anyway, over the last few years, I’d stopped wearing my old prescription, because the lenses had gotten scratched up, and I hadn’t ever gotten around to having my eyes examined for new ones. But I finally did, and got my new glasses. Bifocals again, for the first time since my teenage years, because my close-up vision has finally started to go. Sigh. But hey, at least I can read again.

Only…now that I can see text more clearly again, it’s led me to realize that not even my glasses can fix everything. I’ve started having to increase the text size to read better. And hey, guess what e-book readers are good at doing?

This has also brought me to notice just how poorly the web as a whole seems to handle print size matters. I’ve gone into Chrome’s preferences and bumped up the font size, and it seems to work well on a number of sites, such as TeleRead—but others don’t play as nice.

For example, look at that writer’s manifesto speech by Joanne Harris I mentioned earlier today. It has three selectable font sizes, even the largest of them is terribly small, and no matter how big I crank the font up to in Chrome’s settings, it remains unchanged. Oh, sure, I can use control and the scroll wheel to scale up the whole page, but when I do that, it affects the scaling of every page I visit, and some of them just don’t work well at larger scales. I wonder whether it will eventually get easier as more and more people get to the point where they need larger fonts to see?

All the more frustrating is that my current day job involves data entry, the fonts on the applications I have to use are teeny-tiny, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to scale them up.

I suppose this is just a natural part of getting older. While I might be glad I can bump font sizes up on e-readers and web browsers now, I expect by the time I’m David’s age I’ll be really glad of it.


  1. One thing I have noticed is that as screen resolution goes up, font size goes down. When I got my new monitor I was very excited, then I saw that I couldn’t read anything. Decreasing the screen resolution worked, but wasn’t ideal, so I changed size of text (under system/display in windows 10) to 150%. I saw in an article that anything under 130% doesn’t affect the size in chrome. (Sorry I can’t find the article now.) This has helped a lot.

  2. It’s not a natural part of aging, it’s “fancy” web designers using absolute font sizes instead of letting the user scale the page, a feature every web browser has. Not that desktop app developers are any better: I first started noticing my age when it became hard for me to hit certain GUI controls (and I used to have such nimble fingers). And graphical operating systems, too, allow the user to scale the desktop font size, which applications can use as a baseline for sizing everything in a window. But that feature has to be used to be useful.

    This is one of my pet peeves, you see: accessibility doesn’t just mean close captioning and screen reader hooks. It means many little things that help many different people in a variety of ways. But most developers just don’t get it, no matter how much you explain. Sometimes it’s because they’re pushed into rush jobs; most of the time, it’s simply arrogance and stubbornness. And because older programmers burn out and leave the industry, there are never enough of them with both the professional experience to do things right and the life experience to know how important it is from personal pain.

  3. Welcome to the post-forty generation. Next, you’ll see your ability to bend down deteriorate and stairs get steeper. Worst of all, pretty young women will begin to call you “Sir.”

    My gripe isn’t with webpages themselves or their font size. In Safari hitting Cmd-+ a couple of times will make any text readable.

    No, my gripe are with those who develop the comment windows. The type is tiny and apparently deliberately chosen to be excessively proportional, so letters and numbers look a lot of alike and misspelled words are hard to spot. The text boxes are also small, apparently under the impression that no one wants to comment anything other than a few lines of expletives or snide remarks. Why do they make commenting so hard?

    Even worse, about two years ago, some sadist infiltrated the ranks of whatever organization supplies about half the webpage comment software. Laughing with malicious glee, he altered the code so that about half the time and for no discernible reason, clicking in the text to edit the content jumps to the top of the webpage. Who in blazes asked for that as a feature? When I’m editing my remarks I want to edit them, not continually be forced to scroll back down to the comments window.

    Don’t get me onto those whose auto-refresh webpages wipe out any comments you’ve been making about every two minutes.

    For the record Teleread software seems better than most. I can’t recall having these irritations with it.

  4. I think that the webpage issue will slowly work itself out as more users access more webpages on phones. Websites will have to scale from the very small (phone) to very large (TV).

    Its been a while since I cracked open a physical book/magazine to read. I’ve been using the Kindle or other ereader since 08, and boy was I appalled at how little I could make out. It brought back memories of my grandmother and her magnifying glass.

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