Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Contact lenses suck. So do glasses.

My eyes suck too.

A History with Corrective Lenses

Starting with Glasses
The need to wear corrective lenses has been a burden since I my age was still in the single digits. Up until my mid-teens, I got by with atrocious vision in the -2.00 to -3.00 diopter range -- nearsightedness -- because wearing glasses was for "losers". That and I honestly thought it was normal to be unable to see anything clearly beyond 10 feet in front of me.

Grade 4, I believe, was when I acquired my first pair of glasses. They were only rarely worn until I got to grade 5. Throughout those years, my teachers clearly noticed my hard squinting and constant need to walk up to the board to see what was written on it. I really don't recall anyone ever really teasing me about my glasses, so it was more of a self-consciousness thing. The attention was appreciated by my young self though.
Part of My Contact Lens Collection
On to Contacts
This pattern of avoidance continued until grade 9 when I finally decided to get contact lenses. At the time, my optometrist recommended either soft permanent contacts or hard lenses. One was about $200 and supposed to be more comfortable, the other was over $500, and I think you know which one I went with.

Putting soft contacts on for the first time was infuriating. When my custom made pair arrived at the optometrist's office, he had an assistant show me how to put them on. She did it for me the first time, had me take them out, and then do it myself like a big boy. The big boy took about 40 minutes to get them both in finally. There's just something about sticking your finger in your eye that takes a lot of time to get used to. After the doctor did a quick exam, I took them home and that was that.

The next time I put them on at home completely alone, it took another good half an hour to get them in my eye. And so it continued for the first two weeks. Over the next two years, I did indeed get used to jabbing my eye with a bare finger. It became so easy that I started to jab my eye in the middle of class to "adjust my contact lens". Because it was dry, ya know?

Unfortunately, being young and dumb meant that I "recycled" contact lens fluid, handled lenses with dirt fingers, and somehow managed to not get an infection. It puzzled me as to why my eyes burned in the morning when first putting in my contacts. The layer of moisturizing lotion that I slathered all over my hands regularly beforehand during my morning routine eluded me.

I did not use contact lenses exclusively over this period of time though. It was customary to wear contacts outside of home and glasses at home. Glasses were, and continue to be, more comfortable. This turned out to be a good thing because, apparently, eyes need to breath and contacts don't exactly facilitate that.

Back to Glasses
The life of a teenager is filled with changing minds and whatever else you can think of. In the middle of grade 10, I decided that it was cooler to wear glasses and even got my first pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses were not big at my high school for some reason, and I was one of the few who wore them. Being four-eyed would be my life for the rest of high school and even into college -- my first three years of college, actually. At least two pairs were stepped on and had to be twisted back into shape.

And Once More with Contacts
My return to glasses and the years after that were pretty boring. It was my return to glasses that was significantly more interesting. In my final year of college, I decided to go back to wearing contact lenses. The primary reason was so that I could wear regular, non-prescription sunglasses. I got my sunglasses, but it turns out my eyes had "developed" (read: degenerated) significantly since my first pair of contact lenses. Astigmatism was now a large enough issue that it had to corrected.

Toric lenses, which correct for astigmatism in contacts, were significantly more expensive than regular contacts. And having actually learned something, I decided to go with disposable lenses this time around. Having to buy multiple packs of more expensive lenses really raises costs. So, I cheaped out and learned that letting astigmatism go uncorrected meant very annoying and blurry vision. I could see alright, it was just that everything was out of focus. Still being in college and having to copy notes from boards, this got annoying soon.

Back to the optometrist I went, one guilt trip later about returning an open box of contacts, I had my toric lenses. Much better. The difference was night and day -- to my eyes and my wallet. I even kept my contacts outside and glasses at home routine. This is still where I stand now.

There We Have It
I still get to deal with dry and irritated eyes every other day due to contacts. Waking up very early just about makes me cry too. Glasses give me limited peripheral vision. The only remaining option seems to be surgery, which I don't feel like playing with right now. And that's my story with glasses.