Four-eyes. The ultimate insult to a fourth grader forty years ago. I squinted my way through third grade, but couldn’t see what the teacher wrote on the board, even from the first row. I’d meet up with friends during homeroom, note what they were wearing and identify them by the color of their clothing. Jeepers, creepers, I didn’t want any peepers.
Like it or not, my very first pair of glasses sported thin, golden octagon-shaped frames. On the ride home from the optometrist, I stared out the window, amazed at the individual blades of grass I could see. The world was no longer awash in soft focus. I could see clearly for the first time in years.
The Way We Were
Even though I was in the distinct minority in school, there were a few of us around. We wore gold or silver frames a la John Lennon or heavy plastic frames in earth tones. I even got first generation lenses that darkened in the sun. Sadly, they never really turned completely clear again so I resided in a sepia-toned world during my middle-school years.
Where’d You Get Those Glasses?
Flash forward a few decades and eye wear is both functional and fashion-forward. Some even choose to wear clear lenses with no correction just to get the look. You can be studious, or edgy or retro or anything you’d like. There are glasses that suit virtually any statement you’d like to make. Polycarbonate lenses, anti-reflective coatings, frames that twist like a pretzel without breaking. Not only beautiful, but strong too.
Although I wear contact lenses most of the time, I will confess to reveling in my tortoise-shell and baby blue RayBans, or the ones I’m wearing right now: green textured rectangles that look like fresh-cut wood. Gone are the days of one pair only. Glasses accessorize, sometimes glamorize and always make a statement.
Contact lenses got in on the fashion game as well. Back in the day, we were thrilled to get a single pair of lenses we wore for an entire year. We handled them cautiously as a torn lens meant glasses, even if you had PhysEd at school. Today, not only do lenses come in a rainbow of colors, some are meant to be worn just once and then tossed away. Forget wishing you’d be born with blue eyes, the reality is as easy as popping in a pair of soft lenses. Wish granted.
Leaving the Past Behind, For Good
Sometimes as adults, we have a tendency to wax nostalgic about the way things were. In the case of vision correction, I don’t yearn for the old days at all. The choices available now mean that my children see so much better (thanks to lightweight polycarbonate lenses) and they’ve never heard a derisive label regarding their imperfect vision. Further proof that different is simply different and that’s perfectly okay.
This month is National Eye Exam Month. If you’re having trouble seeing this beautiful world around us, schedule an exam. If glasses are in your future, rest assured you’re in good company. Jeepers, creepers, I love my peepers.
If you already have glasses, go ahead and share in the comments how your first days of wearing glasses was like.