Saving paper, straining eyes

Difficulty deciphering numbers in the phone book was the first sign my eyesight wasn’t as good as it had been.

My optometrist told me that many of his clients come to him with a similar complaint.

The problem will be striking more people sooner now because the print in the phone books published last year is considerably smaller than in the old ones.

A column in the ODT (not on-line) explained it was done to save paper. The pages are smaller and the print has been compressed to fit more names and numbers on the pages.

The new format might be a good way to save paper but it’s also a sure-fire way to strain eyes.

Given good light and fresh eyes I could usually read names in the old book and with a bit of a squint I could also get the numbers .

Even when the light is fine and I’m wide awake the names are difficult to decipher in the new book and the numbers are indistinct.

On-line directories and the 018 service are alright if you know the correct spelling, initials and exact address of the person whose number you’re seeking but if you don’t have those details you can’t always get the right number.

St Joseph’s primary school in Oamaru has done a regular fund-raiser selling local phone directories with bigger print. They were popular before and will be even more so now.

But until their new directory is printed the $2 pair of glasses I keep by the phone will be getting a lot more use.


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