The optometrist’s voice was bright and airy. “Do you think you need glasses?”
And there it was, the question I’d been expecting. I tried to sound upbeat. “Yeah, I do.”
“Good, because I think so, too.”
I’ve been making jokes for years about the inevitability of my eyesight degrading. My parents have been put through their ocular paces: glasses, contacts, lasik, general eye surgery. It was only a matter of time, I joshed.
November is when I started to notice that my sight was, well, a wee bit compromised. One morning, while walking to my car to drive to work, I squeezed one eye shut and then the other, willing my brain and body to wake up. When closing my right eye, my sight remained steadfast and clear as crystal; but when I switched and closed my left, the landscape transformed into my own personal Monet. The words on the parking signs around our neighborhood doubled, and everything else around me adopted these soft, unformed edges. I stopped in my tracks and blinked wildly. I took a sip of coffee and willed the caffeine gods to get to work. Clearly, my body was not awake.
But that afternoon, the Monet remained. Though it was unsettling, I didn’t completely freak out. Honestly, it wasn’t bad unless I kept one eye open and one eye closed (and why would I do that – I’m no pirate!). Not to mention, a little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with ocular migraines. I thought perhaps this was a new manifestation of that condition.
I donned my computer glasses at work, hoping I could assuage whatever was happening with a little less blue light and a little more magnification. I hoped it would clear up by the next day.
It didn’t. So, I set up my annual eye exam appointment, fairly certain that, finally, the joke was on me. At 32, I’d likely need my first pair of glasses.
“You have astigmatism in both eyes, but it’s more pronounced in your right.”
“Do I have anything to worry about since it seemed to come on pretty fast?”
“No. Your eye health looks excellent. Honestly, the condition has probably been there for a while, but you’re just much more aware of it now…Do you work in front of a computer?”
“That would do it.”
“So, this is all new to me. Should I wear my new glasses all the time?”
“Let me show you.” My optometrist stood up and pointed at the pyramid of black letters I’d been asked to recite during my vision test. “Pretend you’re outside. It’s bright out, you’re driving, and these are the road signs.” I had to squint to make out the text.
She swooped the hulking machine she’d used to determine my unique prescription in front of my peepers. “This is how it’s going to look with your glasses on.” The letters were so crisp they reminded me of a knife edge.
“Got it. I need to wear them all the time.”
“So, how do you feel about this?” my husband asked.
“You know, I’m not sure,” I said. “I mean, I’m really excited to be able to see. My vision test was sobering, to say the least…But it’s a big change. I think I’m going to look good in glasses, but…yeah, I’m not entirely sure how I feel.”
And I didn’t. At one point, I considered bursting into tears, but that didn’t seem right. This glasses thing seemed so trivial in comparison to the health issues some of my other friends were contending with at the time. Besides, I was genuinely excited to get rid of my Monet. And I’m a confident girl. I like fashion that makes a statement. I knew I’d look pretty rad in glasses.
So what was this feeling gnawing at me? Nervousness? Excitement? Anticipation? Self-consciousness? Bitterness at getting older?
Whatever the feeling was, it was there. Like a burr that had affixed itself to my sock. Very subtle, but every now and again, it would poke through and shock me.
I snuggled up to my husband and gave him a flirtatious grin. “Are you a guy who makes passes at girls who wear glasses?”
He looked at me, befuddled. “Huh?”
“You’ve never heard that?”
“Oh man. ‘Guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses?’ I heard that all the time growing up.”
And that’s when I knew how I’d picked up that burr on my sock.
That night, my husband took me to LensCrafters. Prescription in hand, I tried on various frame styles, and the whole experience felt very similar to picking out a new pair of shades. Well, very expensive shades. Talented designer and all around fashionable guy that my love is, he brought me various pairs to try on that he felt would complement my features. “It’s your very first pair, so you should get something you like,” he advised.
Within an hour, I’d picked out some Prada dailies (because, of course, I did) and some Tory Burch sunnies. The optician took my measurements and let me know my glasses would be ready the next day.
I know that what follows is going to sound dramatic, but putting on glasses for the first time is a pretty dramatic experience.
The moment I slipped my new glasses on, I upgraded to hi-def. It was like putting on a VR helmet. It was my world, but not. Because holy hell, the sharpness! I could read signs more than ten feet away without squinting. Colors seemed bright, like they were about to pop. It was seriously like seeing everything around me for the first time.
I walked slowly back to my car, taking it all in. I felt like the characters in Pleasantville at the moment their black-and-white world explodes in Technicolor – full of wonder. I looked up in the boughs of these enormous trees close to where I had parked, and I swear, I could see the individual petals of every single flower amid the matrix of branches. I could see the variety of color in the blooms, from fire engine red to a deep, deep scarlet.
I took my glasses off for comparison, and the flowers turned into obfuscated, indistinct red blotches.
I snuck my new glasses up the bridge of my nose. “Whoa.”
I’ve been wearing my glasses for close to four months now. I joke that they catapult my personal style into “full hipster” most days, “sexy librarian” on others. I laugh when my husband and I lean in for kisses and our frames clink. I’ve had to decrease the brightness on all my computer screens, and I spend so much less time squinting.
When I forget to put on my glasses, I develop migraines, so I’m guessing I’m pretty used to them now. My depth perception, which was seriously funky when I added lenses into the mix, is back to normal. I haven’t had a single ocular migraine since I got my glasses.
And most importantly, the world around me has come into focus. I’m no longer self-conscious about wearing glasses for the rest of my life. They make me better. They sharpen everything around me. And why would I settle for anything less than hi-def?