When I was in high school, a friend of mine thought my wearing contacts was a sign of vanity. He thought I wore them because I thought glasses were nerdy or uncool. Clearly there were many things wrong with this friendship; but even after I rid myself of him, I couldn’t rid myself of the nagging feeling that maybe he was right– until I was reminded why he was wrong.
I have been wearing contacts since the summer before 8th grade, which was approximately 20 years ago (give or take). Before that, I’d worn glasses since 3rd grade. Both of my parents have terrible eye sight, and the genetic lottery dealt me the same hand.
My parents knew my eyesight was bad when I started getting frequent headaches, which is a common symptom of both nearsightedness and farsightedness in children. Our family eye doctor confirmed my nearsightedness and walked me to the eye-glass center at the other end of his office. There, I picked out the most righteous pair of huge, pale pink glasses you’ve ever seen (kind of like these, but definitely not Givenchy).
So I wore bulky, plastic glasses for 5 years, but the headaches didn’t seem to fade. When I turned 13, the eye doctor suggested contacts. He explained that the blurriness in my peripheral vision, where my glasses lenses didn’t reach, could be causing the headaches. So I got contacts and my world was changed.
I didn’t get headaches all the time and glasses no longer slide down my nose. I didn’t freak out during PE when a ball came flying at me, worried my glasses would break. I could wear sunglasses and not the kind that clipped onto my frames. I became more confident because people could see me, rather than a face half-obscured by glasses.
Fast forward many, many years and I found myself in my early 30s and I had tried every kind of contact—daily, monthly, yearly, and color tinted. Then I moved to Austin, where pollen allergies make you wish you didn’t have mucus ducts. My eyes got so red, dry, itchy, and irritated, that I couldn’t fathom putting anything in those bright bring orbs. So I had to give up my contacts in favor of glasses. And guess what? The headaches came back.
With some natural remedies and some medical ones, as well, I finally got my allergies under control enough to wear my contacts again. And when I was ready to pop those contacts back in, I thought of my very judgmental friend and smirked. I can’t express how grateful I am that I chose to drop him, rather than my contacts.