You might remember I’ve mentioned my eyesight before. I am extremely near-sighted. As in, “No, Lasik isn’t possible for you.” As in, “You’ll see great one day after you have cataract (lens replacement) surgery.” (Which is, of course, after I finally get cataracts!) Needless to say, contacts have been my saving grace for many, many years, given that glasses will only ever help me to a certain point.
Not long after my third child was born, after my eyesight stabilized following a severe downturn in my already severe near-sightedness, I bought a new pair of glasses to wear at night and in the mornings. They were an expensive purchase at a time when money was tight. But it was important, so we made it happen. I chose a pair of what were then “in style” frames, but when I picked them up the result was disappointing. Looking at the picture you can see why.
Yep, coke bottle glasses. They didn’t look cute any longer. Fast forward 25ish years. My eyes have changed, much more slowly this time, and my glasses no longer allow me to see anything very clearly. I can navigate the way ahead of me, see my contacts case and brush my teeth, and load and unload the dishwasher. And if I held my kindle or phone very close to my face, I could still read. I asked a few years ago about upping the power in my glasses, but my doctor then had discouraged it.
A few months ago, I asked again. Seems technology had changed enough to allow me to get a bit clearer vision in glasses, so I decided to take the plunge. After all, the other ones lasted 25ish years. Surely it wouldn’t take me that long to develop cataracts and thus have good vision.
I went into the specialty optical shop in fear and trembling as to what these glasses would cost and what frames they’d be able to use with my prescription. However, unlike 30ish year old me, I really just wanted to see, not necessarily to look cute or in style.
The man looked at my sheet of paper, shook his head and said, “We can do this frame.” He pulled out an adorable pair of glasses! Black rimmed with black and white swirls (or are they zebra stripes???) on the ear pieces. I said, “I’ll take them!”
Two and a half weeks later I picked them up, excited for the moment when I would take out my contacts and be able to still see. Only the moment I put them on I felt like I was in a fun house! Everything looked off. Double. Moving. Especially as I walked. In frustration, I put on my old glasses again. The next day I returned to the shop and told them what had happened.
“Given the power of the lenses,” the older optician told me, “your brain will take a little while to get used to them.”
“But all the words are double and I need to read!”
“Did they expressly tell you you’d be able to read in these?” He asked.
I realize they hadn’t. The same thing had happened when I got a new contact prescription five years ago. My distance vision cleared, but I couldn’t read anything up close! I wore readers for a few years, then ended up with one contact for distance and one for reading, which works well for me.
“Take them home and given your eyes and brain a few days to adjust,” he told me. “But it they still aren’t right, we’ll make them right.”
That night, I took out my contacts an hour earlier than normal. The following night I did the same. By bedtime, the crazy fun house feeling had subsided—and I even discovered I could read my kindle, I just had to hold it at a different distance from my face!
As a writer of historical fiction I realize that in ages past my eyesight would not have been merely an annoyance. It would have been debilitating. I am grateful every day for the technology of contact lenses and high-power glasses with lighter, thinner lens material. And though seeing my computer is still an issue in the new glasses, I’m grateful to be able to function in the world a bit more safely and securely.
Is there some kind of advancement in the world of medicine or technology that has benefitted you as it has me? Please share!