Did people in the Nineteenth Century have better eyesight? The print in some books is so extraordinarily small that it is a wonder that it could have been read by the lamplight or candles which lit the average house. Anyone who has seen a copy of a Prayer Book from Victorian times can only wonder at how the faithful gathered in dimly-lit churches followed the service.
Oddly, it was reading Mojo magazine that brought memories of antiquarian books. It must be the only publication that uses what appears to be 6 font in some of the boxes inset into features.
Not wanting to miss details, I held the magazine at various angles. If held it in front of my face, at a particular distance, in a good light, I could read the list of records that accompanied a feature on a band.
Wearing varifocals since the summer, I have had to learn that being able to see something depends on how I look at it. The optician persuaded me that if I paid for the most expensive lenses, there would be no motion sickness that might be experienced. He was right, but his being correct came at a price considerably greater than anticipated.
Being prepared to concede to the need of wearing glasses at all was only something that came in adult life, vanity forbade an admission of myopia.
It was during schooldays in Devon that I was subjected to an eye test by an optician from Newton Abbot. It seems odd in retrospect that our school should have regarded itself as responsible for testing. Of course, there was no choice as to the style of glasses we might have: the standard NHS style was all that was on offer. There was choice about colour, brown or black. I hated the glasses and would only wear them in the darkened common room to watch Match of the Day on a Saturday night.
At Sixth Form college, I got a pair of my choosing. They might have had more style, but lacked much quality. The lenses regularly fell out and the screws at the sides had to be secured in place using nail varnish. Through university days I persisted with squinting, not until graduation did I finally admit that I needed to wear glasses all the time.
Glasses have now become an enhancement rather than a disadvantage. I broke my last frames when falling ski-ing in 2017 and decided when getting the varifocals to keep the designer frames I bought at an optician in Bad Hofgastein, mostly because the new lenses cost so much that there was no budget for new frames. Looking in the mirror now, the glasses make me look younger (fifty-nine rather than sixty).
It must be an age thing.
When I was a secondary schoolboy I could read tiny writing, and also write, cursive, tiny script, which I could afterwards read and understand later. Later in life, no matter how large my script I have difficulty reading my own writing.
Also I could focus my eyes much closer. I remember being able to focus on the end of my nose. So probably I read the small script by holding it closer.
Children writing will almost have their noses on the paper as they carefully form the letters.