Astigmatism and a stigma

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the fifth grade. We all lined up as usual to take our public school vision test. I giggled my way to the front of the line. This would probably go like previous years.

Finally, it was my turn. Was that an “F” or an “E”? Was that an “O” or a “C”?

“Kathy,” the visiting optometrist started, “it looks as if you’re going to need glasses.”

I was already different than the children on my block. They attended the neighborhood school and I was bused to a magnet one. My hair hung down my back, while other girls had cornrows or braids with colorful beads. I spoke “standard” English when everyone else used “ain’t” and double negatives with ease.

And now I had to add wearing glasses to this list?

My first reaction was a single tear from my near-sighted eye. Another soon formed and trickled down my cheek. Before I knew it, I was full-on crying, in front of the whole fifth-grade.

The visiting optometrist whispered, “Now dear, you don’t want to make the people who wear glasses feel bad, do you?”

She was talking about Alexander Adams, a kid named after a president. She referred to Eli Korner. A nice boy, but not someone I wanted to be in the glasses gang with.

So my mom took me to a place called For Eyes. My first pair were lilac. If I had to wear them, then I was going to look as cool as possible doing it.

***

Fast forward to 1991. I had just graduated high school and had a job. All this time, I’d been wearing the glasses that someone else could afford for me. This time, I’d wear the glasses that I wanted.

My first pair, with my own paycheck were Laura Biagotti’s. I’m pretty sure I paid over $200 for them. But it didn’t matter. I was fly. Ironically, I’d also decided to ditch wearing them in public. It was time for me to enjoy the convenience of contacts.

That was back when you could get a pair of annuals and they would last, well, all year, as the title suggests.

I wore those contacts so much that Dwight didn’t even realize I needed to wear glasses. I slept in those contacts so much that the optometrist had to threaten not to give me a prescription because you know, you’re not supposed to sleep in contacts.

Every year, I’d renew my contact lens prescription. And every other year, I’d renew my eyeglass prescription, wearing them at night only. I held on to this routine for 25 years.

***

Much like many prescription holders, my eyesight worsened over time. Much worse. But it didn’t matter. I could hide the truth behind my contacts. Decades later, companies discontinued annuals and only offered monthlies.

Everything was good, until this year.

My eyesight had worsened still. Because according to Dr. Suddath, no matter what, when you’re over 40, your vision will continue to decline, regardless of the starting point.

My current prescription is: -7.50 with a -1.75 astigmatism and -8.25 with a -1.00 astigmatism.

All this technical mumbo jumbo means I can no longer wear monthlies. My contacts only come in dailies, which cost $106 per month. Say what?

This means, as my good friend Mek suggested, “Maybe you should embrace the glasses now?”

And suddenly, I felt like I was ten again. I cried and cried, like a week ago y’all.

It might sound silly. But there was a slight fear.

Most people don’t even know I wear glasses, for real. Most people don’t know that if I didn’t have these contacts in, I wouldn’t know who was standing in front of my face. Most people don’t know that wearing glasses is what makes me feel 10% less confident in public spaces.

Most people don’t know that I’d been holding on to a feeling of inadequacy for 33 years, all because I couldn’t see clearly.

Sheesh! 

I had subscribed to a stereotype about wearing glasses and safely hid behind contact lenses. Well, it has to end here. I’ll have to shed this made up stigma and find the right frame for my (public) comfort level. 

The journey to loving me for me in this and every moment continues, glasses and all.

Do you have any hidden insecurities you’ve held on to since childhood? Share them below so we can support one another. 

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45 thoughts on “Astigmatism and a stigma

  1. **”My first reaction was a single tear from my near-sighted eye.” – LMAO

    **The visiting optometrist whispered, “Now dear, you don’t want to make the people who wear glasses feel bad, do you?” – LMAO (I’m not sure this was the most appropriate choice of words to comfort someone)

    **She referred to Eli Korner. A nice boy, but not someone I wanted to be in the glasses gang with. -LMAO glasses gang?! Omg…

    Okay, now that this is out of the way. Let me say that reading your post scared me. Your contact history is very similar to my own. My sleeping issue actually results in me developing a “(forgot what it was called)” that nearly took out my vision in that eye. It was a line that stretched to my pupil and if having gotten any closer, could have done serious damage. It went away over time and I was forced to no longer wear those monthlies. Like you, I was given dailys. But I still sleep in them and although I dispose of them more frequently than I did the monthlies, I still keep them in too long. I can’t afford the prescription but the glasses get in my way a lot. For some reason, they continuously loosen and when I lean over, they fall off my face. This gets me LIVID and I eventually go back to contacts. I’m not disciplined enough to take my contacts out every night…but I don’t want to make my vision worse.

    Anyway…no solution here obviously (outside of discipline or wearing my glasses). But I just wanted to let you know I found some comfort here lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After all that laughing! Girl NOOOOOO do not sleep in your dailies!!! You’re gonna eff up your eyes ma’am! For real though…I’ll comment about the rest later. But I had to say that part, in case you’re planning on napping soon 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Okay, so now that I’ve read this, I take my smh back lol You were appreciating my humor 🙂 I’m glad somebody does. Girl, like I told a friend, when she leaned down talking about the other kids’ feelings, my little ten year-old mind was like hmmm forget those kids! They’re used to their glasses lol

      Yeah something happened one year from sleeping in my contacts. I can’t remember what it was but it wasn’t nice. That started me to taking better care and actually taking them out. Went to the monthlies, but then wore them too long (I think that’s why I’ve ended up with dry eye). So now I have to use some drops in one eye and the dailies :-/ so DON’T SLEEP IN THEM!!! Okay, I’ll stop yelling lol and I won’t mention it again.

      I get it about the glasses. Mine are always loose too. I told my husband I don’t know how people workout in their glasses. I sweat too much and I’m sure they’d fall right off. I’m too “blind” to not wear them, so I just go back to LensCrafters (like all the time, they know me) to get them adjusted.

      I’m glad you could relate 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if that’s what happening with my left eye – it dries out so quickly now, even with swapping the contact out. And it always feels icky in the morning. Okay okay…I’m going to get my life right, I swear. lol. You motivated me enough for me to add it to my tasklist. I’ll go get my glasses resized and will order a new batch of dailies.

        Working out in glasses stresses me out. Its enough to make me go home and eat a bagel with a double scoop of cream cheese. I can DEF relate lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Dr. Garland. Sending love from the snow covered Northeast! I am jealous of your insulation from this … but then again, we all get a day off =D lol

    Great reflection here. I can certainly relate. I was in 2nd grade when I found out I needed glasses. For a couple of days, Lenscrafters had a truck set up outside of the school – so kids could go in there for free eye exams/get glasses made. I failed my test miserably. The only glasses that were available were those Steve Urkel type goggles, or some very oddly shaped ones. I opted for the former. I hated them! They were far too big for my face. Whenever I would look down, they would damn near fall off. But I was too proud to get those stringy things that you hook onto the back of your head so that they do not fall off … that would’ve just multiplied the nerd factor by 5 lol.

    Like you, as soon as I got some money, I got me some glasses I wanted. I have been wearing nothing but Dolce & Gabannas since I started working. You know how they say “DG” on the side? My friend said my glasses are fake and that the “DG” actually stands for “Darryl’s Glasses” lmao.

    Do I have any childhood insecurities?! Geez – where to begin?! lol. Probably a self-conscious paranoia where I always feel people are somehow slandering me or hold an unfavorable opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sending some sunshine right back to you! Hopefully you all recover quickly. I mean it’s a little cold today. The high was 58 🙂

      I’m sooooo glad you mentioned your childhood experience with glasses! I thought I was the only one. Like I said in my other response, I thought I was over these feelings, until I tried to use my job’s insurance to go to another place. BIG mistake man. Those glasses were so big and heavy! They tried to tell me that was the highest index around. I returned them promptly and went to LensCrafters, used my hubby’s insurance and paid the difference. Hmmmph! As we used to say, “They had me bent” if they thought I was about to walk around with those big lenses sliding down my nose every five minutes.

      That leads me to your imagery. lol I so understand you walking around with your glasses on your nose as opposed using that string lmao cause um…no sir lol

      Darryl’s Glasses is hilarious!

      Why in the world would somebody be slandering you??? We’ll have to talk about that later my friend when I open up my virtual couch and notepad 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol absolutely! I can relate! I am so tired of LensCrafters. You know how, through everyday wear and tear, your glasses become crooked? LensCrafters offers free alteration services, so I go there every few months. The person who is about to fix them always asks me “how long you had these glasses?” … as if to say they are ancient. And THEN they give me a disclaimer about if in the course of fixing them they break, it is my fault. Lol. They are always trying to convince me that I need one exam every year. They won’t even make lenses for you if your last exam was +1 year. They’re mad petty. I went there and asked for my prescription so I could take it to another place to get glasses …. tell me why the secretary printed it out but highlighted the date and wrote a note beneath it so the next eye place would notice it lol. Ugh!

        Lol @ virtual couch sessions And I don’t know about why I feel that way slander. I sometimes feel that people hold extremely unfavorable opinions of me and are just putting on a front to an extent.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Kathy. I enjoyed reading this story because it is very well written and also because I’ve had poor eyesight my whole life. I definitely can relate to your situation.
    The eyes are very complicated structures, so please be sure to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist at least once a year.
    And I’m sure you look great in glasses. Glasses are cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glasses seem to be hipster now. At 46, I had to start wearing 1.25 reading glasses (arms weren’t long enough anymore). I looked like an old lady! The idea of peering over my reading glasses while singing in church choir, or teaching in my college classroom, is horrifying! I have a mono vision contact lens for my right eye which I use 3 days a week. Sadly my 57 yr old 20/16 vision moved to 20/25. Bought some transition lens glasses with bifocals –love them. I’ll bet you look great. Oh yeah, being a curly haired redhead motivated me to be really good at sports and academics. The things we endure *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that’s good to know Terri! I’ve waited so long to wear them in public that now it’s cool 😉 lol I started wearing readers this past year too. I absolutely hate wearing those things, but now, like you, I understand why “older” women peered over them. I never realized it’s because they can’t see anything through them lol I’m not ready for transitions yet…I’m just not ready. indeed! I’m sure half of it is cultural and the other 1/2 we put ourselves through, until we realize it was for naught lol

      Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If it’s any consolation, I actually think women who wear glasses are more attractive. One of my weird quirks. With regards to secret inadequacies, I have a stutter. I’ve had it since I was a child and class presentations or even just saying “here” during rollcall was a problem. It’s still a problem because school requires me to do SO MUCH speaking. It’s so frustrating to know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it but knowing that you’ll never be able to. I think that’s why I love writing so much. You can put something on a page and it stands as is without my shaky voice behind it.

    I think we all need to embrace our imperfections. This reminds me of a great quote, don’t know by who but I remember hearing it in ‘Are We There Yet?’; “It’s all about mind over matter because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter”. Not to be presumptuous but I don’t mind 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks kg 😉 I appreciate it. A stutter, huh? I can imagine that would make you self-conscious in a lot of ways. I agree about embracing our imperfections. I’m almost there. The Ice Cube movie??? I think Dr. Seuss said that quote. And thanks for that final comment ❤

      Like

  6. At barely over 5 feet tall, my height had always been an insecurity of mine. People would frequently assume I was younger than my actual age, and it would annoy the heck out of me. However, as I’m getting older, this seems to be working to my advantage. I’m loving the fact that I can pass as my boys’ older sister. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started wearing glasses in kindergarten…my 1st pair had “light blue” frames….I was so embarrassed to wear them at first. As I got older, most people associated someone wearing glasses as “intelligent” so, it didn’t bother me as much 🙂

    I did eventually get a more neutral color…& wore them thru high school.
    My left eye was especially weak…it always looked blurry when I tried to cover my right & only look through the left one.

    After becoming an adult, I didn’t need to wear them as much…they even took the requirement off of my drivers license! So, tell Dr. Suddath…sorry, not true…per my eyes did actually improve per I can see great through both eyes equally now & I’m in my 40’s. 🙂

    PS You actually look very nice with your glasses in your profile pic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Say what??? That’s amazing! I’ve never heard of someone’s sight improving. Girl those are my readers! My “real” glasses I have to get all kinds of special stuff put on the lens to look halfway decent. But thanks anywho 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll start by saying, I am so sorry that I found this really funny. My insensitivity as you know is because at around the same time that you were wearing the lilac glasses, I was faking an eye exam so I could get glasses, and I got round gold frames (fake gold) that were practically just like walking around with flat window panes. This was a really fun read, and I am glad you are shedding the insecurity 🙂

    Mine for a long time was my walk- my mum and her friends used to make fun of the way I walk (I can’t even describe it cause I am not even really sure what it is they have picked out). Anyway, I used to be and still maybe am to some extent a bit phobic of catching my reflection in a store window as I am walking by. It is no longer an obsessive thought though…

    Funny though that my family still bring it up- my uncle always says that my cousin (his daughter) walks just like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I got my first bad news about needing glasses as an adult, at my Air Force physical when I turned 25. I couldn’t even tell which way the big “E” was pointing. Right afterward, I had a goals meeting with my Chief. I was so dismayed about having to wear those ugly black plastic frames (nicknamed BCG’s–Birth Control Glasses), I couldn’t concentrate. The Chief Nurse patted my arm and assured me there were also attractive choices. When I mentioned this to the optometrist, he laughed and said, “Yes, BCG’s now come in black AND BROWN.” Oh, joy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I began wearing glasses at thirteen, my friends in our neighborhood started calling me “Four-eye jumbie.” [A jumbie is an evil spirit.] While it made me feel less attractive, especially when dressed up for big occasions, I was grateful to be able to see the writing on the blackboard in high school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂
      In my case my health made me reflect again on what I was doing. Been through several medical tests last year and nothing serious was found. Only that I was/am at 43 (then) already at the end of menopause. Since I know that mind and body are one, I needed to be honest with myself and admit to myself, that some things in life causes so much stress, and made me literally sick, I just had to change things.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I couldn’t agree more. I went to an american school in Honduras. Kids were so mean and spoiled, creating so many inscurities. You were suppose to be a certain way, have certain things or if not you would be mistreated. I hear that is still going on and its a real shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. O we children can be so mean to each other, but even meaner to ourselves. Is it still to early to tell you, you look wiser with glasses on? hihi
    My main problem throughout my life has been not wanting to hurt another ones feelings, afraid someone would stop liking me. As a young girl go along with stupid plans of other children, just to be liked. Now I think of it, it’s not that long, since I started to say ‘No, I don’t like that, don’t want to do that’ again and dare to be me again.

    Liked by 1 person

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