Dealing with a life of bad eyesight


I was the kid with the Coke-bottle glasses.

People who read the term in books probably assume the term is an exaggeration, but if you hold my glasses up to the light you can see the thick curve of glass just beyond the edge. It genuinely looks exactly like looking at the bottom of a glass container, and it meant that I always had to buy glasses with thick frames so they wouldn’t break under the strain of holding such a huge lens. And, at least when I was younger, thick frames and cute frames were two categories that were entirely mutually exclusive.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t need corrective lenses of some kind. I got my first pair of glasses before I even went into kindergarten, and the story goes that my mother knew I needed them because I could no longer read the huge Smith’s sign outside of our grocery store (for the record, my mother had taught me to read by that point, so it was definitely a vision thing rather than a “I don’t know what those letters mean” thing.)

I can read without my glasses, but only if I hold the book an inch from my face and am super stubborn about it. People become vague, blurry shapes, and I’m lucky if there’s a slightly different-colored blur that tells me where your eyes are supposed to be. I can navigate my way through my apartment in the dark, because even though I might not be able to tell what something is I know I shouldn’t run into any of the blurry, looming shapes around me. Even the best Lasik surgery couldn’t fix my eyes, only make them less bad than they are right now.

I have contacts now, which are great but have their own problems. I technically should be wearing hard lenses, but those feel like walking around with dimes in your eyes and I’m big on eliminating discomfort from my life whenever possible. So I have soft contacts, which are great but also bad because they do nothing to fix my astigmatism. Somehow, though, I can still see well enough to read all necessary signs and pass my driving tests, which is proof that the human body is a miracle and stubbornness is occasionally enough to compensate.

It would be incredibly hard for me to go back to those Coke-bottle glasses, in part because you never realize just how much the glass curves your vision until you go without them for awhile. Whenever I put them back on the floor suddenly slopes away from me dramatically like I’ve wandered into some sort of nightmare funhouse. It is, to put it mildly, disconcerting.

On a deeper level, though, it’s because I’ve gotten used to being surprised when people hear I wear corrective lenses. I’ve gotten used to seeing the shape of my face without them, even if that means jabbing my finger into my eyeball every morning and occasionally stopping everything to frantically feel around for a tiny piece of easily-tearable plastic.

Also, it’s much harder for me to break contacts against someone’s calf, but that’s an entirely different story.

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