by Bobby Laurel
My Mother was a real beauty. She was tall and slim, she had beautiful hands with long fingers, her long hair was red and curly, her eyes were dark blue. She wore glasses. She had several pairs of glasses each of which she wore with different dresses, so that they matched. Her prescription often changed as anytime she became pregnant her eyes got worse. She used to say that each child cost her a lot of money and a few diopters. We were not poor and my Mother liked shopping so her glasses were quite expensive and very fashionable
Since I was a small girl I wanted to be like her. I admired her, I loved her, I wanted to look like her. I liked wearing her clothes at home and pretend I was her.
I also wore her spare glasses. I wanted to wear glasses because I though if I wore glasses we would be more similar. Unfortunately I was after my Father. My hair was black and my eyes were brown. I had not had my own glasses till I was ten.
When I was really a small kid, I fulfilled my desire through playing at home redressing, speaking the way my Mom spoke and wearing her spare glasses. Later, in my teens, I started wearing similar dresses and shoes as my Mother, and occasionally I wore a pair of her spare glasses. The frames were plastic, rather horn-rimmed with nice brownish pattern. I liked the glasses. I wanted my Mom had my lenses fitted in it, but as the frame had been broken and glued together with one of the lenses, the optician told her it was impossible. So I wore the glasses just from time to time in secret, because the lenses were stronger than mine as my Mum bought the glasses when she was twelve and when she needed stronger glasses than me in my early teens.
The year I was fourteen I went for a summer camp. I did not know any of the kids, as it was arranged through a travel agency, and this made me possible to take the glasses with me to the camp. I decided to wear them full time that summer because I thought they suited me a lot. I even thought the boys would like me more if I had the interesting expensive pair of glasses.
I did not realize that wearing stronger prescription would bring me a lot of problems. The first three or four days were almost without any problems as I was used to wearing the glasses for a period of time at home. I had been doing it for couple of hours almost every day. Later I got headaches and my eyes became sensitive and itchy. I asked our leader for eye drops, and they helped in the beginning. However the second week real problems came. My eyes hurt. I found out that I could not wear the glasses all day long. I tried to wear my own prescription sunglasses, but they were ugly and I was afraid the kids would laugh at me.
Day after day I sunbathed and swam as long as possible not to have to wear the glasses. The evenings were the worst parts of the days. My eyes were too tired. So I went to bed as soon as possible. Although I suffered from the problems I did not want to wear my normal glasses nor my prescription sunglasses. I wanted to look nice and unusual. So I suffered.
The fourth week, the problems became quite bearable and I felt better. During the fifth and sixth weeks, I wore the horn-rimmed glasses most of the time without having headaches. When the camp ended I went home in my sunglasses.
The school began the week after. When I came into the classroom I found out I could not see the blackboard. Everything was blurry. I told my Mother I could not see well. We went to the doctor together. I sat in front of the chart and started reading the letters.
"My dear," said the doctor, "you need new glasses."
Then the lenses clicked several times until I could read most lines of the chart.
"Quite a jump." said the doctor, "but it is not so unusual in your age."
I did not know what the numbers meant, but I could see that my Mother looked worried. We went to an optic shop where I could choose any frame I liked and Mother told me we would have a big ice-cream. I chose glasses similar to one of my Mother's, refusing to listen to the optician saying that my lenses should be fitted in a smaller frame. He said minus five diopters was quite strong for the frame I had chosen, but I did not mind any diopters, I wanted to look like my Mother.
The new glasses were very nice. I really liked them. Next spring, I had another eye test and the new lenses were fitted in the frame again. The increase was not as high as the latter one. The doctor said my myopia would keep increasing for two or three more years and then it would stop. I felt I was a big girl because the edges of the lenses were thicker that the frames, just like my mother's lenses. During the following period of time I started noticing people's glasses and lenses. My schoolmates often asked about my glasses and anytime they tried them they said they were very strong. Even those who wore glasses found them too strong for them. I really felt I was special. At the next eye test, which was after six months, the doctor asked my Mother how many members in our family wore glasses, and what prescription they had. Mother told him that Father was myopic and my two brothers and sister wore glasses too. They agreed my myopia was inherited. My younger sister was 13 and wore minus 3 D, my brother Tom was 11 with 1.5 D and the youngest Luke had only -1 diopter. As my Father had -5.5 I became the second most myopic member in my family. My prescription read right -6.75 D, left 6.5 D.
I found I could even see through one of the old pair of Mother's glasses. The frame was plastic with black and white stripes. The glasses looked funny. Mother told me she wore them for six months only, because they quickly became too extravagant. As many teenagers I liked unusual and kinky things, and this particular pair seemed to fulfill my desire for special accessories. I wore my normal glasses at school, but anytime I went out with my friends I took the black and white glasses on. They became a kind of my trademark. I was "the girl with funny glasses".
The lenses were stronger than my 6.75 diopters, they were probably close to 8 D. It did not make ma any problems because they never sat on my nose longer than a few hours in the afternoon or in the evening. This was the reason I did not suffer from headaches. However they probably influenced the progression of my nearsightedness. The next visit to the doctor resulted in a new prescription with -8 D right and 7.75 D for my left eye.
Now, I have to explain a thing that may seem very difficult to understand. The unusual frames I had were not the only thing that made me special in my eyes. The other thing was my strong prescription. I also got to know how my Mother's myopia progressed. The year she married my Father she had -8 D, but every pregnancy cost her some more diopters. When I was born her prescription increased by 1,5 D, after she gave birth to my sister Julie, a jump of 2 diopters came. Then both boys brought her about 1.5 D. So the year I reached minus 8 in my right eye, she had 14.5 diopters. She wore myodisc lenses, as high-index lenses did had not been on the market yet. Whenever I looked at her glasses I felt I wanted to have such special lenses as she had.
One day I told her. "You have so special and nice lenses, mummy. I like them."
"Oh, my dear they aren't nice at all. If I had the option I'd get rid of them. But I cannot wear contact lenses as they make my eyes red after an hour, so I do not have any other possibility. You see, I had to start wearing these myodiscs when my prescription reached certain numbers. They don't make normal lenses in my prescription."
Now, I knew that if I had wanted to wear those special lenses I would have had to get stronger glasses. How strong? I did not have any idea. Next year, my nearsightedness increased very little, just by 0.5 D. I thought I would never have myodiscs.
The solution how to get more diopters I found was very simple. I noticed that the doctor prescribed less diopters than was the number brining me the best vision. I took one of my older glasses and told the optician I needed spare glasses. He asked how many diopters I had and I told him that I had minus ten. I thought that minus ten might be the number from which myodiscs are made. The day the glasses were made I felt very sad. No myodiscs for me, just normal thick lenses. My calculation failed. I put the glasses on. They were too strong for me. Everything was very sharp and small. I tried to wear them for one day, and no headache came. So, they became my training glasses. I thought that if I wore them quite often my eyes would get accustomed to the lenses. It really happened. When I was 18, my prescription was 10 diopters, officially. I wore glasses with plano front lenses. I liked the image of mine - an attractive but very nearsighted girl; and I liked the idea I could bump my prescription too. The diopters became my obsession. I spent most of my pocket money for various combinations of unusual frames and strong lenses. I had minus 14 myodiscs fitted in one of the frames and wore the glasses secretly. They were my final training glasses. At the beginning I wore them just one hour a day. I started to study university in another town. There I had time and privacy to do my experiments. Later I increased the period to two hours a day. Than three hours. When I wore them for five hours a day I had to select the activities I could do with them because I still could see badly through them. So I switched between my normal -10s and my training -14 glasses several times a day. Before I went to have my usual eye test I wore them for the whole week full time. I put my normal glasses just before I entered the consulting room.
My doctor tested my eyes and came to a conclusion, that I have a very progressive myopia.
"How strong glasses will I need, doctor? I asked with a trembling voice.
"Oh, you will have to wear much stronger glasses than the old ones. I thought the progression of your myopia would stop, but somehow it did not. To tell you the reason I would need to do more tests," answered the man.
I did not want any tests, because I knew the reason and did not want him to know it, so I refused more tests and took the paper with my new prescription. The numbers made me excited: R -13 D, L -12.5. I was happy. My myodiscs worked very well. I knew my next jump in prescription would be as high as that one. On my way home I took the training glasses on. I had the prescription fitted but never started to wear the glasses. I let my myodiscs sit on my nose full time. My obsession with diopters was fed by the hope I would soon reach the magic number. I wanted to have minus fourteen prescribed in six months.
That summer I arrived home for holidays and hurried to my doctor. The test went with the typical "which is better, this or that". I did not try to pretend I saw less. I read everything I was told to. Then the changing of the test lenses stopped. I went out of the consulting room clutching the paper with the results: Right eye - 14 dptr, left eye - 13.5. dptr. I bought new beautiful silver wire rimmed frames and had my myodiscs fitted in them. Those were the first myodisc lenses I got officially.
At home, my Mother felt very sorry for me.
"My poor girl you are only 20 years old and you have to wear as strong glasses as me."
I did not dare to tell her that the myodiscs were exactly what I wanted. She would not understand.