At the tender age of 11, my eyes were checked by an ophthalmologist, and found deficient. He had exactly three different eyeglass frames to offer, nylon frames. I picked the frame I’m wearing in this photo; my first pair of eyeglasses.
At my school – a convoluted social club where personal appearance was far more important than functionality – I became a ‘nerd’. It was not cool to be a nerd, in those days. I detested the eyeglasses, but had to learn to wear them, protect them, clean them. Every day. There was no respite.
When my school teachers told (not invited) all the boys to play soccer, the soccer ball was kicked into my face, which broke my eyeglass frame. My father taped the break together, and for many weeks I sported eyeglasses with tape on the frame.
While still a teenager, I purchased the book, Better Eyesight Without Glasses, by William H. Bates, with the hope that it would help my eyes. I did various eye exercises over several weeks, with no improvement in my eyesight.
A certain girl I once knew, a love interest, suggested that I could improve my looks with contact lenses. I decided to try it, and wore contact lenses while shopping, at church, at movies, dances. But I could not completely get away from eyeglasses. It seems that most of the jobs I had required the use of safety glasses. Contact lenses could not protect my eyes from flying glass, wires, or other projectiles.
There was a time when I paid a large sum of money to participate in a program called “Precise Corneal Molding”. The idea was to wear hard contact lenses, day and night, to gently reshape my corneas. No surgery involved. I wore the special lenses as prescribed, and my vision did improve. After about 16 hours, I’d take the contact lenses out for a rest, and my vision was near perfect for a few hours. There were caveats with this treatment. My corneas would always tend to revert to their habitual myopic curvature; the hard lenses abraded and desensitized my eyelids; my eyes would itch so badly during pollen season, that I had to remove the lenses; keeping the lenses clean and disinfected was more difficult than I could have imagined; when I lost or broke a lens, they were expensive to replace.
I was in a hurry to go somewhere one morning, when I had not been wearing the lenses. My vision was poor, so I put the lenses in, only to find that one eye was stinging; the contact lens was not properly disinfected. With impaired vision, I ran a red traffic light, and destroyed my truck. After that experience, I was finished with Precise Corneal Molding.
For a short time while I lived in Memphis, I knew an eye surgeon, who was in training to perform RK surgery. He suggested that I try the surgery, but I didn’t feel right about it.
In 2002, I purchased the See Clearly Method, which offered me some hope for vision improvement, but it was a disappointment – just as the Bates Method had been.
Times have changed, since I was a boy. It has become fashionable to wear eyeglasses. There are girls with perfect eyes, who choose to wear eyeglasses as a type of jewelry. I have learned to live with eyeglasses, where necessary. But the stigma (and the astigmatism) still annoys me, in some ways.
Two of my sisters have had LASIK surgery to correct their vision, and both are pleased with the results. I’m suffering from an acute case of pessimism.
Sometimes, at my leisure, I will wear contact lenses, and wish the sense of freedom from eyeglasses could last forever.