I began to wear eyeglasses when I was in the second grade. My right eye has always been a lot worse than my left. Not only does it have severe astigmatism, it also has amblyopia (lazy eye). Others may hate parts of their bodies—their boobs, their legs, their hair—I have had a long-term dislike of my right eye. When I was in sixth grade, I had to wear an eye patch over my left eye for six months and do eye exercises every night to try and strengthen my right eye. That patch was a conversation starter. Too bad the conversation consisted of snide comments made about the new girl in school that had a big piece of black plastic over her eye.
A few years later, we moved again. The patch was long gone and the light blue cat eye glasses with sparkles in the frames had been replaced by more stylish ones with very simple brown frames. After a couple months in school, I asked my father for contact lenses as a Christmas present. It was clear, I punned to get on his good side, that boys were not making passes at this girl who wore glasses. My plea was answered and I spent the winter break getting used to my contacts. In those days, contacts were always hard lenses and never gas permeable, so the schedule for getting used to them was starting with two hours a day, and increasing a half hour every day. Once I was up to wearing them all day long, I never looked back.
When Kyle was in second grade, I started to have to tell him repeatedly to move back from the tv. It wasn’t until he retorted “I can’t see if I move back!” that the light went on for me.The things that are right in front of our eyes and yet we don’t see them. When he got his glasses, he was thrilled and amazed at what he could see. “There are leaves on those trees!” I felt very foolish for not having noticed what was going on, but then again, Mike had 20/10 vision, (yes, I wrote that correctly: Mike had 20/10 vision; better than perfect!) and so Kyle had a good chance he wouldn’t have to wear glasses. I remember that I forewarned Mike to be nothing but upbeat and supportive when Kyle came home with his glasses in their bright red frames. There would be none of the subtle put downs (“You can’t see that?!”) that he had said to me over the years. He greeted Kyle with a fine smile and a great compliment on his glasses, and I relaxed.
Kyle had LASIK done a few years ago, and he was very happy with the outcome. He went from taking after his mother and having very poor eyesight to 20/15. Not as good as his dad’s used to be, but a very good change for the better. He suggested to me that I have it done, too. At the time, I knew that I was closer to needing eye surgery for another reason, and I couldn’t see any sense in the expenditure.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with cataracts. At that time, they weren’t very bad, but I had received the warning that in some amount of time to be determined by their progress, I would need surgery. It was interesting to watch them develop. At first, there was nothing that I was able to see that was different; but after about eighteen months, I began to notice the cloudiness and the halos caused by glare. Reading street signs at night has become extremely difficult. After another six months of getting tested and re-tested, I have been slated for surgery on the one eye that has been deemed bad enough. My right eye.
I have six weeks before the surgery, and then in another 4-6 months the left eye will be ready. The doctor wanted me to have the lens put in so that I would have close up vision and wear glasses for distance. He said that if he puts in a new lens for distance vision, I’ll have to wear glasses to see my mobile phone. That’s certainly a consideration, but with eyes that are over forty years old, I have to put glasses on (even over my contacts) to see the screen on the phone or the laptop as it is. That’s not going to be different, and I have several pairs of reading glasses in various styles and colors placed strategically around the house and car.
My priority is different.
I have not been able to see a distant tree, mountain, or bird on the wing unaided since I was seven years old. Over the years, I have become legally blind (without corrective lenses) in my right eye, and have extremely poor vision in my left.The thought of being able to wake up in the morning and see immediately, without reaching for my glasses on the night table or stumbling in to the bathroom to put my contacts in, sends waves of excitement through me.
It almost brings tears to my eyes.