I first found out I needed glasses from a speech therapist. When I was at primary school, I regularly saw a speech therapist and there was one session where she held up a book not so far from my face and I couldn’t see what was on it. I tried on one of my classmates’ glasses and discovered I could see perfectly with them on. So, I got a pair of my own and I’ve worn glasses ever since. I’ve never ever been tempted by contact lenses for the simple fact that I’m incredibly clumsy and also squeamish. Early one morning, I would do myself an injury, guaranteed. It’s a complete non-starter and the optician has stopped asking.
Wearing glasses is a considerable part of my identity and self-image. I’ve worn them since I was 10. I’ve been made fun of and complemented for how I look wearing them, the former more than the latter. They are like armour to me, an essential part of getting dressed and just as well since I’m very short-sighted and would walk into things without them. I walk into things with them too but at least being able to see helps avoid it happening as often.
The other day I was reading something that made me think of the place my glasses have in my life. It was a book of nature writing articles and it occurred to me about how my perceptions are often altered because I wear glasses. One example is in the rain. There are times windscreen wipers would be useful just as there are times when I might as well take my glasses off for what I can see. Another would be on hot days like when I was in London recently when the sweat was getting absolutely everywhere, including into my eyes. Wiping my eyes made them sting and then my glasses got all greasy. Walking about with my glasses all dirty also changes how I see the world. Dust and smear marks can shift what I see making it much less than HD, much more analogue with crackles and interference.
I knew someone who wasn’t at all vain but bought glasses that gave him 20:20 sight, much better than his own eyes could achieve at the top of their game. I wouldn’t ever do that because there’s a point you don’t need to go beyond. If I did an important job like surgery, then fine. I see enough for my needs, well, most of the time.
I always remember the day I got my first glasses. The optician was in Musselburgh and we were walking along North High Street back to the car and the world was like it was in lots more dimensions than it had ever been before, even if they were all in grayscale. I was slightly scared because the nose pads moved about a little until I realised they were supposed to do that to adjust to the curvature of my beak. I was 10 years old and being bespectacled quickly became normal. The only time when it isn’t is when I get my eyes tested. They’ve been X-rayed and I’ve read letters down many charts and recited many numbers. The last time, my photo was taken wearing the display glasses with an iPad to see how I looked in them. That didn’t happen in 1999, back when a speech therapist told me I needed glasses.