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28th March 1999

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A view from the hills

A view from the hills

Sights trained on reading glasses

A newly set-up import and export company in Kandy has introduced a range of smart, trendy reading glasses that, the manager says, is a boon to people who are, at present, called on to pay outrageous sums for the privilege of wearing spectacles. The reading glasses, all imported, are really effective, and yet, many opticians seem to be up in arms and are making out that users of these reading glasses are risking eye damage.

Spoke with the manager who said he had every respect for the role of the optician and eye surgeon. "They play a critically important role with regard to complex eye problems," he said. "They carry out eye tests and prescribe spectacles for those patients with more complicated conditions. I own that they are a vital constituent for the well-being of society at large."

However, he explained, "a good many middle-aged people have this inability to carry out close work such as the use of computers, reading newspapers, sewing and so on. Usually, from age 45 on, reading such a thing as a telephone directory becomes an impossibility and the peering and straining of the eyes often over a protracted period, results in tiredness, headaches and general discomfort. This is why so many go for reading glasses."

At the Kandy hospital, an eye doctor confirmed that as far as reading glasses go, there is absolutely no need for an eye test. "Reading glasses are merely two magnifying lenses supported by a frame," he said. Wearing them, enables one to read small print. That is all. People don't go for an eye test to use a magnifying glass, do they? Stamp collectors use magnifying glasses all the time."

He confirmed that such reading glasses were not harmful to the user in any way. "They don't damage the eyes or cause mysterious eye diseases or tire the user. Rather, it is quite the reverse."

But the opticians here are disturbed. They have begun to issue dire warnings. "No one can simply wear any sort of glasses without an eye test," one said.

"You mean sun glasses as well?" I asked and was told that, that was different.

The point is that harmless and helpful reading glasses have never been a threat to the business of opticians before. The usual rigmarole of eye tests and preparation of lenses has led to bills of several thousand rupees. Now, this import-export company sells handsome and well turned-out reading glasses, each item strictly quality-controlled for as little as Rs. 800 a pair. Two magnifying strengths are available and buyers can choose the strength they want. "The problem is that this inexpensive alternative has never been available to people here before and this is where the objections come in," the manager said.

Good show, what? Another costly monopoly going to pot. People here now have the freedom to choose, and choose the item that suits their purse. And they can now read the fine print too!

Ruvini hands over Kandy's nature club

Hazeera Zavahir was elected Secretary of the Nature Club of Kandy, succeeding Ruvini Wijayatilleke who really pushed the club along in its first year.

It was Mohan Samarakoon who brought this club into being, the purpose being to create an awareness of nature among the public, promote nature studies and take measures to protect the environment. In its first year, and largely because of Ruvini's enthusiasm, the Club visited the Dambulla Oya Family Park Menikdena, Nikula mountain, Kandalama tank and also assisted the Municipality in anti-pollution work. Members also visited Randenigala, undertook tree planting along William Gopallawa Mawatha, visited Ratnawella falls and participated in the Paraphlegics Awareness Walk. Hazeera said that she would be organising a schedule for the current year, among the activities being day trips to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and Hantane and a visit to Sinharaja. A schools poster and photo competition on an environmental and nature protection theme is also on the cards.

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