Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your eyes are not everbody's eyes

I had a cataract removed from my left eye last spring, and an artificial "Toric" lens implanted. I was terrified about the surgery, but it was no big deal. The improvement in my vision was amazing. Not only was the world sharper, but colors were truer. I now see white walls that had seemed off-white or almost beige. I can appreciate the Hi-Def TVs in my home, and movies look much better.

I had been told that I would need similar surgery in my right eye -- probably in two or three years.

But my right eye suddenly got much worse -- and I'll be having the second surgery and implant soon.

My two eyes now see very differently when used individually, and when used together they distort reality, which is BAD for designing books.

My "improved" left eye (which no longer needs a corrective eyeglass lens) is optimized for distance vision, like TV and driving. My right eye (with a corrective lens) is optimized for things like books and computer screens.

My ophthalmologist explained that I would develop monocular vision. Each eye has a specialty, and the brain selects the input from the proper source.

Normally I'm not conscious of this weirdness, and I seem to see pretty well (but I definitely want to get the right eye fixed), but my distorted view of the world has presented a problem with publishing -- and that's why I am writing this blog post to warn others.

I recently revised one of my books to use Adobe Garamond Pro type instead of my former Constantia. The "AGP" is prettier, with thinner, more delicate strokes.

It took me a while to get used to it on my computer screen, and I still have not gotten used to it in print.

As is common for fiction and memoirs and other non-techie book, this book is printed on cream (or "crème") paper, instead of pure white. Cream is said to be easier on the eyes.

Unfortunately, with my messed-up eyesight,  the cream seemed too dark, as if the pages had yellowed with age. And the thin strokes of the Garamond seemed to have inadequate contrast to show up against the dark paper.

I was all set to arrange to switch the book to use white paper, when I decided to ask for opinions from people whom I knew to have excellent eyes. The verdict: "It's fine. Leave it alone."

So, I will stick with cream.

There's an important lesson here for book design and life in general: don't assume that others will see things the same way you do.

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