Astigmatism? Wear sunglasses, or don’t go out at night

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I’m walking down the dark pavement when I’m suddenly attacked by the headlights of a car turning a bend in the road.

“Darn it,” I let out.

In just five seconds, I have stepped into a ditch, buried my favourite crocs into mud and survived an almost heart attack. Thank God no one saw that clownish act. The intensity of such headlights should be illegal.

I make my way out of the ditch quickly. My handphone vibrates. It’s my best friend, telling me she’s reaching the mall soon. Foolishly, I attempt a reply while walking, nearly charging into a construction pole (I walk at extremely fast speeds, to add injury to injury) and tripping nicely over a brick that is securing the pole. Good grief. This is gravely worrying. I have walked this route nearly a million times when the sun’s up, so what gives?

I stop using the phone and chuck it into my bag. Now, however, the blinding echo of the handphone is all I must see, before it fades away, and I come face to face with throbbing darkness and sporadic bursts of light from the Bangladesh quarters on my left. Looking back at where I missed the pole and tripped on the brick, it occurs to me I was zig-zagging.

Apparently the light from the handphone was my navigation – something worse than a broken straw – and I wasn’t able to see anything else apart from it. Moreover, strong light in strong darkness bamboozles your sense of direction entirely. Imagine spinning yourself around three times and then crossing a tightrope. Yep, you’d have no idea how.

When you have astigmatism, it’s unsafe to go out. The terrible night-vision is no help either.

The street lamps with their moonish glow transform into angry suns, and I’m starting to get a headache. Keep this up and I may not make it to the mall, which is a mere 10 minutes walk from my place.

It’s fifteen minutes past, and the traffic lights’ reds, greens and oranges are invading my personal eye space and peripheral vision much more than they should.

Everything seems zonk-ish and zoomed in. I’m walking at half my speed now. This is no laughing matter. I suddenly remember grandma’s joke about having a pair of good sunglasses to stop the glare at night… It doesn’t seem so funny now.

What do you do when lights blind instead of guide you?

I finally make it to the mall with muddy crocs and a chipped toe nail.