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Corrective lenses: myopia strikes again!

June 10th, 2005 · 10 Comments

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It is blurry but the memory is sharp in my mind. Piled into the old Ford van we called Big Red, my family drove down the suburban street at night: my mom, dad, baby brothers and preschooler me. From my seat I could see how we were headed down Northrup Way in Bellevue, past the Masonic temple and Presbyterian church through the intersection at 156th where a Skipper’s restaurant once sold seafood with silly tunes. I remember I saw huge white stars in the sky, fuzzy and furry, bright blotches against the black. That was how I thought streetlights should be: the size of planets and the intensity of the sun. Then I got my first pair of glasses and received the revelation of corrected vision.

I remember getting glasses as I was entering kindergarten. I hated it. I was vain. I still am (now I have contacts). But the fact that my need for glasses coincided with the start of school sent a strong signal together of the end of an era. The picture above was taken at my sixth birthday, proof that I’d become four-eyed by then, and familiar with the terms used for teasing.

Tuesday I took Abigail to the doctor for her annual eye and ear exams. Given our family history – Ted also got glasses at an early age – I wasn’t surprised when the test indicated that my daughter should see an opthamologist. She’s older than I was. But it will be an adjustment for us all.

We ask Abigail whether she has trouble seeing. She says she is fine. Yet I remember that I didn’t know what accurate vision was until my glasses told me. I believed street lights were supposed to be big and blurry. We only know what we know.

The word correction can have painful associations. Who wants to be corrected? The term is associated with imprisonment, red pen marks and perhaps even a rap on the knuckles.

But sometimes a correction can bring a better picture into view. Correction can be good, not bad, if I take my mind off of the price and my pride. Humility is hard. Those who wear glasses advertise a visible reminder of their imperfections. As painful as the soreness – and occasional bleeding – that my childhood glasses cut into my nose with their weight, I remember the teasing. Soon as I could, I convinced my mom to buy me contacts. Instead of applying pressure, I wish children would encourage others who wear glasses or use necessary aids. After all, they are the ones willing to be corrected.

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mary // Jun 10, 2005 at 7:37 am

    Is it your birthday???? I’m good at clues. I pride myself on getting subtle clues.

    Wishing you happiness always (even if I’m clueless),


  • 2 Julie // Jun 10, 2005 at 8:00 am

    Oh, no it’s not my birthday. That picture was just one of the earliest ones I could find of me in my glasses. But thank you, Mary, for your kind thoughts and wishes!

  • 3 Tamar // Jun 10, 2005 at 8:39 am

    Julie take a look at this post of one of my favorite teachers and writers about teaching of the blogosphere:

    I was ecstatic to wear glasses – I started when I was eleven. I have always liked hiding behind them!

  • 4 Lucy // Jun 10, 2005 at 8:57 am

    My first memory of glasses is realizing that you can actually SEE the individual leaves on trees!

    I had REALLY good recall (and clueless teachers) so they didn’t catch my vision problems until third grade, in spite of the fact that I was focusing about four inches from my nose.

    I also remember my doctor picking my frames. He explained that the smaller the frames, the lighter the lenses. I think mine were the smallest made that would fit my head, about half the size of yours!

  • 5 Jenny // Jun 10, 2005 at 9:05 am

    I remember feeling sad when Joel had to get glasses – about 7 months ago. I’ve worn glasses since 3rd grade. Wearing glasses put a hamper on pool parties! But I got contacts at 16, still difficult at pool parties:)

    Joel was 5 when he got them. When he first put them on – he cried, “No one will know that I’m Joel!” I told some friends before we all go together that evening, and the adults and older kids all greeted Joel by name and complimented him on his new accessory!

    The good thing about glasses now, the lenses are lighter and there are so many more frame choices! Boy, I had some face swallowing doozies! Now I wear my glasses more than my contacts. I feel more fashionable and interesting in them:)

  • 6 Matt // Jun 10, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for this post. I recently struggled with a student in my second-grade class who, after months of waiting, finally got glasses– and then refused to wear them. It seemed that to this little girl, as you say so well, putting them on was a moment of vulnerability. It required a lot of trust in me, her teacher, and in her classmates. When I finally noticed that she had slipped them on– when no one was looking– I made sure to tell her how happy I was, in the hope that the other children would follow my lead. I have another student who doesn’t like to wear her glasses, so I told the kids that we were starting a “glasses club,” (since I also wear glasses) and only those who brought their glasses to school and wore them could join. Since then, several other kids have approached me and told me that they, too, want to get glasses.

  • 7 Danny // Jun 11, 2005 at 10:26 am

    My daughter (now 10) started wearing glasses when she was 4. She seemed fine with it for years even though she was the only one in her school who wore them for the first few years. But I remember with sadness the day I found her staring into the mirror with a frustrated look, saying “My glasses ruin my outfit.” Must be all those damn Disney films such as “The Princess Diaries” in which the pre-makeover girls always have curly hair and glasses and the “pretty” post-makeover girls always have straight hair and contacts. Yuck.

  • 8 Morrie // Jun 11, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    Julie, this was one of the better ones. They’re all great but this was exceptional. I’ve worn glasses since I was 3 y.o. (about 50 years plus) and sure, as a child, I went through the 4 eyes, bullied stage etc, but an individual’s personality shines through and your daughter will overcome any hiccups placed in her way. She’ll develop a core set of friends who will cherish her for who and what she is, not what she looks like and those people will stick by her through thick or thin. As you and Ted both know from experience. Enjoy your forthcoming summer.

  • 9 Anne // Jun 13, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    We have just discovered that my 11 year old daughter also requires glasses. Although she has known for some time this day was likely to come, she still received the verdict with a feeling of great trepidation.
    On a positive note, the optometrists who are helping us have been very sensitive to her 11 year old ego and have been so helpful in choosing the perfect frame to compliment her beautiful face.
    We are hoping wearing glassses over the summer vacation will help her get used to them before the trauma of wearing them to school.

  • 10 Hannah // Oct 29, 2006 at 4:43 am

    Your tale is very similar to what I went through. It’s interesting how other people cope with it too as my friend was telling me how he loved having specs as he felt they made him look more handsome. I feel one of the reasons I hated having to wear specs was becuase I had this warped idea (very young at the time 5-6) that all kids who wore specs were ‘Fleabags’, I fell foul of my own predjudice. I successfully hid my failing eyesight for 2 years 7-9 till I was finally caught out by the Headmaster taking my class who refused to let me sit at the front near the board I burst into tears saying “but I can’t see it from here”. And so 20 years on I’m still a speccy four eyes but now it’s a part of me I’m umming and ahhing about getting contact lenses as I’ll lose my protective speccy veil…hmmmm…

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