Eye Frames And The Lack Thereof
A friend asked me today why I don’t wear glasses even though I’m blind.
I wore glasses all throughout my childhood, but I wore hearing aids first.
A little background: I have two little brothers. They’re taller than me now, but Paul will always be two years younger than I and Curtis is four years younger than I. Kate, Paul, Curtis. When Curtis was starting to talk but Paul was still babbling, the parents knew something was wrong. When they figured out that Paul was hearing impaired, they thought they ought to test me, just in case. He has always had more hearing impairment, but somewhere along the line of doctors, someone suggested that maybe we have a genetic disease that involves the vision as well.
Paul’s eyes have always been nearly perfect, but the first thing on my eyes was an eye patch. You see, they could tell, by close study, that I preferred one eye over the other. So, after a small surgery to correct the weak eye from wiggling, they covered the better one to try to strengthen the weaker one. Of course, it’s hard to ask a preschooler whether she now sees better out of that eye, so no one will ever know whether that worked.
My first pair was a tiny, round, brown one. With an elastic around the back so they didn’t fall off an active head. I can hold the pair of glasses in one hand with nothing falling off. Of course, glasses were easier to take pictures of than hearing aids.
My second pair of glasses were pink. They didn’t make pink hearing aids, so my second pair of those were red. My third set of eyewear was plastic purple with confetti, and the fourth was confetti on blue. Then I went with boring wire frames. By then, I was starting to realize that the bad eye didn’t really benefit from the magnifying glass in front of it. The wire frames really showed off the thickness of the lens well, and I started becoming conscious of how much more attractive I looked without it, regardless of the benefits in frying leaves or anthills.
So we went to the eye doctor to ask for contacts. I went through the whole shebang–lens, bright lights, reading letters, the horrid drops, and the agonizing sit in the waiting room while my pupils became wider, not being able to read anything. He did the ever-silent examination and then sent me out into the bright and noisy lobby again.
Finally, he stood in the tiled hall and I remember it as if I watched from a distance. Hopeful eyes look up as he shakes his head quickly. Her back droops and tears fill her eyes. She looks up and asks the two word, three letter question: Why Not?
It echoed in my head for days. “Because you’d have a risk of disease. And I don’t want stuff flying in your eyes and making you lose what vision you have left.”
I don’t know whether it was because I realized that my vision was too bad for contacts or that I wouldn’t ever be pretty, but the appointment was on a Thursday. I plunged into a depression that weekend, and when I came out on Monday or Tuesday, I realized that I hadn’t worn my glasses all during that time. So I stopped wearing them.
My self-esteem grew. And a few years later, on a routine visit to see how much worse my vision was, I asked the doctor out of curiosity: If I were to start wearing my glasses again, how much would it improve my vision? Would it help any?
He said no. Man, what a naysayer. A good doctor, but he told me that the only reason I would wear glasses would be to stop stuff from flying into my eyes.
Soon: the post of what the eye and ear disease is. Unless you don’t want to read it because you’ve heard me explain it all already. I’ve got it down to an art. It makes a great set of stories, but it still leaves room for questions. Ask if you want to know how I learned to talk without the speech therapy that Paul needed.