Saturday, July 18, 2009

Regarding eyeglasses

I picked up my new post-cataract-diagnosis sunglasses and bifocals today. My normal walking-around glasses were done last week. Now, I have my three pairs of glasses back in service:The bifocals, I admit, get little use, but it's nice to have a second set of glasses if something dire happens, and they are safety glasses frames left over from my work life, so the updated lenses were the only cost to me. I reused my old frames for the others, too, not only because I liked them but because glasses that fit my wide face are few and far between. You hang onto a pair when you find them.

I was trying to think of how many pairs of glasses I have owned since I was cursed with them at the age of 10. Oh, I had the nearsightedness when I was younger, just not the glasses. But the summer my brother turned 16, after he opened his gift (a darkroom set for developing pictures) and put the box down on the chair, I got up from the other side of the room and went over to it to read what was printed on the side. This triggered interest - "You can't see that?" Nope. I wasn't nearsighted enough to run into door frames or fall down stairs, and I had already gotten into the habit of taking the chair closest to the chalkboard in school, so my vision deficiencies weren't obvious. But now they were under scrutiny.

So I was packed off to the optometrist next to the Sears in Huntington, and sure enough, I needed glasses. I was just turning 10 and a bit of a geek. So what kind of glasses do I get?
Right - old lady frames of brown plastic with clear plastic along the bottom of the lens ("It'll make it easier for her to get used to looking through glasses," the doctor said. No, it just made me stranger looking.) Not really cats-eye glasses, but close. I was mortified, but unlike today's kids, I didn't get to give input on the choice. Besides, there weren't that many frames to choose from.

So, I left fourth grade just another kid and came back to fifth grade that fall a four-eyed geek. And thus began my love-hate relationship with glasses. Sure, I could see details in the world on the ride home from the eye doctor I never imagined before - "I can see every leaf on that tree!" But now I was a plain girl with ugly glasses, for pity's sake.

I wore those a couple of years and then because I had grown and my vision had changed, back to the optometrist we went and I got the same shape frames, just brown all over this time. Maybe an improvement. Marginal. I wore those for a few more years, and then, when I was a freshman, I went to Dr. Tisko in town and got new oval tortoiseshell glasses. Definitely better. Remember, these were the hippie years. They weren't granny glasses, but they were close. These glasses accompanied me through high school and a year of college.

Finally, when the plastic frames had seen better days and I needed a new prescription, I took myself over to the optician downtown near my college dorm and emerged with stainless aviator frames. At last, glasses that weren't an embarrassment. They were cool. They were trendy - Gloria Steinem wore aviators! They stayed with me until my first post-college job.

After that, there were two questionable pairs in the 80's - a little large, a little too, too - if you know what I mean. It was the 80's, after all. Then a pinky-beige pair, a gray pair (these were the ones that I got when I was almost in bifocal territory but the ophthalmologist compensated for it and saved me), three pairs of wire rimmed frames in gold, bronze and brown (should have been bifocals but I decided to take my glasses off instead when reading), and now the ones on the left in the picture. There was a very large pair of prescription sunglasses in there, too, during the early 90's - so very Joan Collins - and a smaller "cool" pair of sunglasses two years ago.

I was thinking about how nobody ever had more than one pair of prescription glasses when I was growing up. No one worried about frame styles, and we wore clip-on sunglasses. To have multiple pairs of eyeglasses was the height of wastefulness. (And, oh, Lord help a kid who broke his glasses.) Having three pairs of glasses still seems extreme to me.


Greenmare said...

I totally understand the love hate relationship with glasses! My first pair were in junior high. luckily I got copper aviator ones. but I also did the 80's with huge plastic frames. sigh, one reason I don't have our wedding picture up in a prominent spot!!! with my astigmatism I don't dare set my glasses down in any unusual spot!

Tanya said...

My first pair of glasses were horrors too. What were my mother and I thinking when we bought those dark brown heavy frames! Actually I guess they'd be coming back into style nowadays but I felt like a 4 eyed freak too. Once I went to contacts I rarely wear glasses at all (except for the sewing glasses!)