Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Specs

Specs

I get my first pair of specs at the age of 6. My father is an ophthalmologist, so I have my eyes tested for the hell of it, and he discovers that, not only am I astigmatic, but one of my eyes is mildly short-sighted and the other mildly long.

This means they sort of cancel each other out, and I don't really need the glasses, not yet.

Sometimes I lie on my bed and I hold the specs by their arms up above me, and I squint at the ceiling light through each lens in turn and I marvel at how the light appears fat and blurry in the right lens, and sharp and tiny in the left.

But after a while, the long-sighted eye joins the other in its romp into myopia, and the astigmatism marches on.

By the time I'm 10, I'm wearing specs full-time and in a way it seems appropriate as I am already the school spod.

I let it pigeonhole me to some extent - I give up trying to be good at sports, although enforced activity means I regularly get a netball in my face anyway, and I retreat bookishly behind the frames.

When I turn 18, my father and decent toric technology determine my eyes eligible for contact lenses, and it seems like a red letter day. Suddenly I have a face again.

And I wear the lenses all throughout university and law school and my first job.

At least I think I do, because when I look at photos taken during that time, I'm not wearing specs. Not ever.

But when I move to a new company, my lenses don't come with me - the aircon's too strong and my work requires squinting at a monitor, and so I find myself not bothering to put them in any more.

But I hate bespectacled me so much that if anyone comes near with a camera, I whip off my specs and I smile before shoving them back on my nose.

Thus, doctored by vanity, my photographic history continues seamlessly as before.

Sometimes I toy with the idea of getting my eyes lasered, but I'm put off by horror stories, and by the memory of a French teacher who could only afford to get one done and so ended up having to wear glasses anyway.

And my dad, the ocular oracle, keeps saying, "This is a new-ish procedure and I'm not convinced it's safe - I'd wait a while - you've only got one pair of eyes". And I'm certainly not going to argue with him.

By the time I'm 30, my eyesight is so poor that the only time I'm barefaced is in the shower or in bed. Unless something is right in front of me, I can only make out shapes and colours.

I'm resigned to my disability, but occasionally I feel flickers of unease. What if I lost my glasses, or broke them? What if the zombies came? I'd be utterly useless, the first one to get munched down. This bothers me more than it should.

Then, just before Christmas, my dad says to me, "I think it's time you had laser surgery". And everything changes.

5 comments:

  1. Zombies are the only reason I go to the gym.

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  2. You could almost be my twin in writing this story.

    Except for some bits.

    My parents realised I needed glasses when we were driving to or from or near Heathrow and they were pointing out planes and I got upset because I thought they were making them up, I couldn't see a thing.

    I've been wearing specs since I was 5 and my sight has always been so poor that my focus point is about an inch from my eyes and someone sitting next to me is just a blur.

    Unfortunately, although I've tried contact lenses over the years, my eyes are very dry, they lack in tear flow, and even the high water content lenses dry them out.

    So I've been speccy always.

    Sometimes I put my glasses in a different place before I got to bed, I don't know why as they're the last thing I take off before sleep. And it's occasionally taken me an hour and a half of blind patting around the room, floor and surfaces, to find them again.

    My dad isn't in eyes, but was a consultant anaesthetist until he retired. When laser eye surgery first came onto the scene, I wanted it too. Back then, even I wouldn't have gone for it, with stories of people being left with ugly scars that made it seem they were looking through scratched windows, if they could see at all.

    Over the decades, my dad would ask his opth friends and they'd say "well, I wouldn't let MY family have it done". And I'd shrug and think, not yet then.

    Many friends got it done in the last five years. But still, no green light.

    And then about a year ago, his friends said, yeah the risks were low and they'd go for it. So my dad said, if I still wanted it, he'd get it for me, and he'd come with me and I was very excited and said I'd make an appointment.

    But every time, I chickened out, and a year slid by.

    And then a friend of mine booked in to have it done, and posted cute cute cute pictures on the internet, and it went well and she was very pleased.

    So I thought, I CAN DO THIS. And I booked in. And it's tomorrow.

    Thank you cute MiMi!

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  3. Mimi you will have to come down and let me "see" the results - needless to say your dad has been keeping us in Sevenoaks up to date with progress

    Neil

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  4. @Pavel *joins gym*

    @Kavey - Best of luck tomorrow! x

    @Neil D - Oh - you're *that* Neil! Hello :)

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  5. Thought my eyesight was bad at -5! I really wanted glasses at school cause I was a bit of an attention-seeker...be careful what you wish for! I liked reading your story though..

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