I. Jimmy’s Story

Story 1 of the trilogy by Aliena

Hi, my name is Jimmy. I was 5 years old when my baby sister, Jennifer, was born. When they brought her home from the hospital, everyone said she was a beautiful baby. She didn’t cry very much and I really liked her. She seemed to grow fast and didn’t bother me very much. When she was 6 months old, she was sitting up and moving around in her playpen and playing with her toys. She wasn’t very good at eating, as she made a big mess most of the time. When she was a year old, she was talking really well and she started to walk. But, she seemed very unsteady on her feet and fell down a lot. She also tried to run but she often ran into things. One time she got hurt when she fell down and hit her head on the corner of a cedar chest. She had to have seven stitches on her forehead.

When Jenny was a year old, I heard my mother tell my father that she noticed Jenny playing with a doll and holding it very close to her eyes when she talked to it. Then she observed Jenny doing the same thing with her panda bear. My mother also said that she saw her squinting her eyes frequently to see things only a few feet from her. In fact, she said that Jenny was squinting a lot of the time. My mother was pretty knowledgeable about eyes, as she was a high myope and wore glasses with half-inch thick lenses and couldn’t see anything without them. My father said that my mother should take Jenny to her ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Dr. Anderson examined Jenny’s eyes for over an hour. He finally told my mother that Jenny had inherited her eyes and had high myopia. He said that it would be best for her to take Jenny to the University Eye Clinic to see a group of pediatric ophthalmologists that had more experience with high myopia in very young children. The Dr said that it is not common, but he has seen over a dozen babies and young children with congenital myopia in his ten years of practicing. He said that Jenny’s eyes were not the worst he had seen, but that her eyesight was not very good.

Dr. Constance at the University Clinic also examined Jenny’s eyes for over an hour, using four or five different instruments. She finally said that Jenny was extremely nearsighted and almost completely blind. But, her eyesight could be greatly improved with glasses and they needed to get glasses for her as soon as they could get them. She also said that Jenny had probably been quite nearsighted when she was born and it probably had progressed further during the first year to where she now could only see things by putting them very close to her eyes. Dr. Constance also said that Jenny might have a form of myopia called, congenital progressive myopia, but she couldn’t be sure until she had examined Jenny’s eyes for a couple of years to see if it progresses significantly.

My mother was depressed about Jenny’s eyes, especially because she had inherited her poor eyesight. The Dr said that glasses should really help Jenny to see better and that she could lead a fairly normal life with glasses, but she needed them immediately so that she could develop her eyesight. She also said that Jenny would have to wear glasses or contacts all of her life to see. Dr. Constance did warn my parents that they should have Jenny’s eyes examined, at least every six months, to determine how the myopia might progress and definitely give her new glasses when she needed them, which the Dr thought she most certainly will probably need for several years.

After about 2 weeks, the clinic called and said that Jenny’s glasses were ready to be picked up. At the clinic, the Drs. put the glasses on Jenny and observed her reactions. At first, Jenny was very quiet, as she looked all around. Then she seemed to be puzzled, as she was apparently seeing things that she had never seen before. Dr. Constance took Jenny to the window in the outer office where she could see trees, people, cars, and buildings and other things that the Dr said Jenny had never been able to see before and Jenny became very excited. Dr. Constance said that Jenny probably had never seen her mother’s face so clearly, as she could now see with her glasses on.

Dr. Constance said that Jenny had a prescription of –10.00D for both eyes and she had close to 20/20 vision, but they needed to watch her eyes and vision carefully the next few months and years and give her new glasses if she needs them. Dr. Constance also said that she might need frequent changes in her prescription and wanted to see her again in 3 months and then in 6 months. She also said that Jenny should wear her glasses all of the time to strengthen her eyes and develop her eyesight. Although, she didn’t think that it would be much of a problem, as Jenny really needed them to see and without them she was blind.

When they came home, I saw Jenny wearing her glasses for the first time. She seemed so happy and bubbly and ran to me and gave me a big hug. I kissed her on the cheek and my mother said that it was probably the first time that she had been able to see her big brother clearly. Jenny’s glasses fascinated me. The lenses stuck out both in front and in back of the gold wire frames. The front of the lenses looked flat and reflected light similar to mother’s glasses. I noticed that now that Jenny had glasses, I couldn’t see her big blue eyes very well. When she went to bed and my mother took Jenny’s glasses off of her, I was again fascinated to be able to see her eyes, which were still big and blue. After she had been wearing her glasses constantly for about a month, I noticed that when she took her glasses off, her eyes looked different. They had a vacant look to them and they seemed to not be able to focus on things. They looked like she was blind and they weren’t seeing very much of anything. When she tried to see something without her glasses, she would squint her eyes almost closed and then would usually ask for her glasses.

As I said, I was very fascinated and interested in Jenny’s glasses. I wondered what it would be like to look through those thick, powerful lenses. One night after everyone was asleep, I went into Jenny’s room and took her glasses from the table next to her bed and took them to my room across the hall. I put her glasses on and looked around. I immediately got dizzy. I took a couple of steps and almost fell down. Everything appeared blurry and very small, and as I looked down at my feet, they seemed to be very far away and I felt very tall. I took them off and everything came into focus and looked normal again. I put them on again and tried to look at a book, but everything was very difficult to see and I couldn’t read the words. I went to the mirror and tried to see myself wearing her glasses, but everything was very blurred and distorted. I could see the little round glasses on my face and I could just see the rings going around them and then I moved my head and I saw the lenses flash from the front of them like they did when Jenny had them on. I realized that Jenny’s eyes were very different than mine and that they must indeed be very weak for her to need such strong glasses. I then felt very sorry for my baby sister and vowed to always help her and protect her. I took the glasses off and went back to Jenny’s room and put them on the dresser.

In the morning, when Jenny woke up, she reached for her glasses on the table and they were not there. She felt all over the table but could not find them. She started to cry and called for our mother. Mother immediately came to see what was wrong and Jenny said that she could not find her glasses and was a bit panicky about it. My mother looked at the night table where she usually put Jenny’s glasses and was puzzled not to find them there. She thought they must have gotten knocked off and looked all around the floor, but they were not there. She then looked around the room and saw them on the dresser where I had put them and saw them sitting there with the lenses face down. She was now really puzzled, as she would not have put them there so far from Jenny and certainly would not have put them with the lenses face down so they might get scratched. By that time, I came into the room to see what all of the commotion was about. My mother looked at me, but didn’t say anything, as she put Jenny’s glasses onto her face so she could again see. My mother also realized how dependent Jenny must be on those little glasses to see. Over the next few weeks, they essentially were her “eyes” and she put them on first thing in the morning and didn’t really want to take them off when she went to bed. I also realized that I must be very careful to put Jenny’s glasses back exactly at the right place where she could find them, if I was ever to take them again.

At Jenny’s 3-month exam, Dr. Constance found that her vision with her glasses had dropped to 20/40 in her left eye and 20/80 in her right eye, but she didn’t change the prescription until Jenny was 2 years old, when the corrected vision was 20/80 in the left eye and 20/150 in the right eye. The new glasses had a correction of –12.00D for the right eye and –11.00D for the left eye, again giving Jenny close to 20/20 vision in both eyes. Dr. Constance said that the right eye seemed to be weaker than the left eye and at times it was 20/20 and other times 20/40 with the new prescription, but she didn’t want to give a stronger prescription just now, and would wait to see how her vision in that eye was in another 6 months. Dr. Constance said that the first prescription might not have been strong enough, and as Jenny’s got used to seeing with her first pair of glasses, she didn’t notice the decrease in her vision. I couldn’t tell that Jenny’s new glasses were much different than the first ones, except that mother said they were quite a bit stronger and Jenny could now see much better. They were in new frames, as the Dr didn’t want Jenny to go without glasses during the time that the new glasses were being made. The new glasses had relatively thick dark-red plastic frames and the lenses didn’t look so thick, so they really made Jenny look very different.

I was very anxious to try on Jenny’s new glasses to see how different they were. After everyone was asleep, I again went to Jenny’s room to get her glasses. I put them on in my room and immediately got dizzy and felt funny in my stomach. I took a couple of steps and again almost fell down as every thing looked so small and far away. The glasses seemed very strong and seemed to pull on my eyes, as I looked into the mirror. My eyes started to water and I squinted to try and see through the very strong lenses. I took them off and looked at the lenses. They were about 10 mm thick at the edges. I thought, wow, what cool glasses. I took them back to Jenny’s room and this time, I placed them exactly in the same place, with the lenses up, on the table where I had found them. I don’t really know why, but I wished that I needed glasses too. Maybe it was all of the attention that everyone gave Jenny because she had to wear glasses at such an early age and they were so strong. The glasses certainly changed her appearance. She wore them all of the time and everyone got used to her wearing her glasses so that when she took them off, she looked very different to everyone. Actually some people thought she was very pretty when she wasn’t wearing her glasses, as she had jet-black hair, a very fair complexion, and had startling deep blue eyes. Some people said that it was very sad that one could not see her beautiful blue eyes through the thick lenses in her glasses that she wore almost constantly.

In the next few years, Jenny had to have several changes in her prescription for stronger and stronger glasses and Dr. Constance was convinced that Jenny had congenital progressive myopia. My mother always got her new frames when she needed a change in her prescription, as she was growing and needed larger glasses, and also thought this was also a way for Jenny to look forward to wearing the new and stronger glasses. My mother was always up-beat about Jenny’s glasses, as she thought that there might come a time when Jenny might rebel and not want to wear her glasses even though she was now quite blind without them. Jenny didn’t seem to mind at all that she had to wear the very strong glasses and she identified with mother who practically never wore her contacts anymore and would also get new glasses some of the time when Jenny had to get new ones. When Jenny was 4, her glasses were RE –14.00D & –2.00D × 120 with a +2.00 bifocal and LE –12.00D & -2.00D × 60 and no bifocal. Dr. Constance said that Jenny need a bifocal for her RE, as she could not read with the -14.00D distance prescription. When she was 6 and ready to start school, she again needed a stronger prescription and the lenses were quite thick (~15 mm) with a prescription of RE –16.00D & −2.00D × 120 with a +3.00D bifocal and LE –13.00D & –2.00D × 180 but no bifocal. Jenny was having trouble seeing small things with her prescription, so the Drs again gave her a bifocal for her weaker eye for seeing small things up close. They also gave her special glasses for reading and writing that had –13.00D for both eyes. Jenny still held things about 10 cm from either her reading glasses or her regular glasses with the one bifocal to read and write.

Mom kept all of Jenny’s old glasses in a box in Jenny’s room. When no one was around, I would sometimes get the box and try on Jenny’s various old glasses. Once when everyone was away all morning on a Saturday, I got the box and wore several pair all morning. I even tried to watch the television wearing them. When I would first put them on I always felt dizzy and funny in my stomach, but after a while I didn’t notice it so much. But, when I would try to walk around, I would sometimes almost fall down or run into things.

I thought Jenny’s glasses for school were really something. When Jenny got her new glasses, she was very excited to wear them, as she again could see everything so much better. Dr. Constance did say that she was no longer able to see 20/20 with her glasses and was 20/60 in the RE eye and 20/40 in the LE, so she would have to have special help in school and would have to sit in front so she could see the teacher and board. The lenses looked really strong with many rings going around them and the lens for her RE must have been at least ½ inch (12 mm) thick. The lens for her other eye was only slightly less thick (~9 mm). When she looked at books and small things, I could see her using the bifocal, which also seemed cool. She said that she could now see things in books so much easier with her reading glasses or her regular glasses with the bifocal. Dr. Constance did say that she was puzzled as to why Jenny’s RE was so much weaker than her LE. They would have to watch this carefully. Jenny’s eyes now looked very small behind the thick lenses and they were difficult to see because of the very high reflections that her lenses had from the front surface. When Jenny moved her head, the lenses would flash, reflecting light from the front surfaces and from the edges. I was now even more fascinated with her new glasses with the strong complex prescription and bifocal. I could hardly wait to try them on some night. Jenny seemed to adapt to her new glasses immediately and their strength and thickness did not seem to faze her. I did hear several people say that what a shame it was for such a pretty, young child to have to wear such thick, ugly glasses in order to see. For me, however, I thought her glasses were really cool and very interesting.

There were now 5 or 6 girls in my class that had gotten glasses over the years, but none of them were as interesting as Jenny’s glasses. They all were –2D to –5D or so in strength. I wished that I could find a girl that looked as cute as Jenny and had glasses as strong as Jenny’s.

When we started school, mom wanted me to walk with Jenny and look after her. They now routinely had her take a spare pair of glasses with her, as she absolutely had to wear glasses to function. She could not even walk down the hall or go down stairs without her glasses and she had to have them to see the board and teacher and to read and write. Jenny was in the 1st grade and I was in the 6th grade. Jenny did well in school, but she often had to get closer to most things to see them clearly and would hold her books and papers about 3 inches (75 mm) from her glasses to read, draw, and, write using the reading glasses.

The next year we moved and we went to a new school. Jenny was in the 2nd grade and I was quite advanced, going into the 7th grade. Before school started, my mother noticed that I finally must also need glasses. But, my prescription was only –2.25D in both eyes, but I was told to wear them all of the time. I hoped that there would be a cute girl in my class that had to wear very thick glasses like Jenny.

The first day, when I went into the classroom, I saw her. She had long, golden blond hair, blue-green eyes, and was about my height, but she did not wear glasses like Jenny’s. Instead her glasses had lenses that were very thick in the center and greatly magnified her eyes. I noticed that she also had trifocals for both eyes. The lenses were relatively small, but her eyes seemed very large and seemed to nearly completely fill the lenses, but you also couldn’t always see them clearly as the lenses had unusual refractions and high reflections. When you could see her eyes, her RE would often turn way inward and you couldn’t always tell where she was looking. I noticed that her LE also would sometimes turn inward and once-in-a-while both eyes turned inward. She was really very cross-eyed! But, I thought she was really very cute too and her glasses were as cool as Jenny’s. Her name was Nancy and she also always sat in the front in school.

A few days later, I noticed her walking home alone in the direction that I was going. I hurried and caught up with her and started a conversation. She seemed pleased that I was walking with her. My knees felt a little weak to actually be walking with her. She said she was Nancy and I said I was Jimmy in her class. She said, “Yes, I know” and gave me a nice smile. So, she had noticed me. It turned out that she lived only three blocks beyond where I lived and I started to walk her home every day. I was into sports and played on the soccer team and she came to watch me play and I became her boy friend. It really was love at first sight, at least for me.

In our homeroom, there was a long closet behind the teacher’s desk where the students put their coats, hats, and books. Students acted as monitors and Nancy signed our names up to monitor together. I was at one end where the boys put their things and Nancy was at the other end where the girls put their things. One day when all of the students had gotten their books and coats, Nancy ran down to where I was and all of a sudden put her arms around me and kissed me. It was the first time that I had been kissed by a girl and the first time that I kissed a girl. I put my arms around her so as not to fall, when the teacher walked in. We both got detentions. I had to stay after school and clean the chalkboards for the 4th −8th grades and Nancy had to take papers for the teachers and make copies for the next days lessons. Nancy finished before me but always waited for me by the entrance of the schoolyard and we walked home together as usual. On the last day of school for the week, we went to a park before going home and we kissed several times. I really liked it and she also liked it. Once when I was kissing her, I noticed her right eye crossing inward and I could only barely see it. Some people thought that crossed eyes were ugly, but I thought Nancy’s eyes were absolutely beautiful, crossed or not.

The next year when I had my eye exam, I had to have much stronger glasses. My prescription was now RE –4.00D , –1.00D × 120; LE –3.25D , –1.00D × 130 and when I got my glasses the lenses were much stronger and thicker. I absolutely had to wear them all of the time to see things really well.

The Saturday after I got my new glasses, Nancy and I again went to the park with a blanket and our books to study. We both were taking algebra and I helped her with some problems and then we each read a book for our English classes. Nancy loved to read and draw and paint, even though she had weak eyesight and had to wear very strong glasses with very thick lenses that had trifocals. She now usually wore a special pair of glasses for reading and studying, which seemed to magnify her eyes even more. The lenses were very thick and were extremely high magnifiers, and her eyes were not always clearly visible behind them. She said that she had strong prisms in her prescription and they, along with the high plus lenses, produced unusual reflections and refractions. After a while, I was tired of reading and moved close to Nancy. She smiled and put her book down and moved closer to me, pressing her breasts against me, with her face close to mine. I could see her big eyes blinking behind her thick glasses and our lips came together and we had a long passionate kiss. As I kissed her again, her right eye nearly completely disappeared into her nose. I took her glasses off of her and then the left eye also turned way inward. She said, “Oh Jimmy, I can’t see anything and now you can see me extremely cross-eyed”. She started to cry and I closed each of her eyes and gently kissed them. When she opened her eyes, they were still turned inward but not as extensively, and I put her glasses back on her so she could again see, although it took about 5 minutes before she could see things really well. She then took my glasses off of me and asked how well I could see her. Of course, I was nearsighted and I could see her quite well, as I was very close to her, but I said that she looked very blurred to me. She laughed a little, maybe not believing me, and then took her glasses off and put them on me and then put my glasses on herself. Her eyes again crossed inward extensively and she said, “Wow! I can’t see anything now, Jimmy, your eyesight must also be quite poor without your glasses. How about you, can you see with my glasses?” I was now quite blind, as Nancy’s glasses were so strong that she looked very blurred and distorted to me. She said, “Your glasses must be quite strong too, as I can’t see any thing through them”. But, of course, she couldn’t see anything through them as they were negative lenses and just added more blur and distortion to what she could see without her high plus glasses. We both laughed and I could see Nancy’s face clearly enough to kiss her. She then kissed me and took my hand and put it under her sweatshirt. I unfastened her bra and put my hand around her nipples and then rubbed her breasts, as we kissed several times.

Whenever we could, we continued this Saturday afternoon routine every week. Nancy now was comfortable not wearing her glasses all of the time around me, even though she was completely blind without them, and both eyes crossed way inward with only part of one of her eyes showing. She said that she didn’t like to take her glasses off very often because she couldn’t see much of anything because her eyes were so extremely crossed and her eyesight so very poor. She told me that she was like Jenny, in one regard, as she also had been wearing very strong glasses since she was a baby. She said that she was born with very thin lenses in her eyes and also thin corneas and some of the muscles controlling both her vision and the movement of her eyes were very weak, giving her high esotropia and high hyperopia. Even wearing her glasses, her vision was only 20/100 in her right eye and 20/70 in her left eye. An operation on the muscles of her eyes to help to correct her vision and esotropia did improve it, but they could not get it better than what she now had. She could not wear contacts, as she had to have strong prisms to help align her eyes, and they could not put prisms in contacts. She did try a combination of contacts and glasses, but the contacts often came off and she would loose them and they were very expensive. The contacts were also difficult for her to insert, with the extensive crossing of her eyes and she almost always need help inserting them, as she couldn’t see the contacts or her eyes without her glasses. The contacts also hurt her eyes most of the time, so it was easier for her to wear her glasses. Even with the prisms, her eyes would sometimes cross anyway, especially if she looked a little too far to the right or to the left. But without the prisms, her eyes crossed far inward and she could not see much of anything. She said that her prescription was now, RE +23.50D & +3.75D, × 22; LE +21.75D & +5.75D × 180 with 12D base out prisms for each eye and her reading glasses were even stronger by +4D spheres for both eyes, giving her RE +27.50D and LE +25.75D, with the same astigmatism correction that she had in her regular glasses. She said that both of her glasses were lenticulars.

The next year, we both went to the same high school and remained very close and went to all of the social functions and games together and were in as many classes as possible together. I helped her with her homework, because she did not always get everything in class and sometimes was slow in reading because of her poor eyesight. But, she did very well in school, as she knew she had to try harder. She said several times that she didn’t think she could do it without me.

When we were freshmen, I took Nancy to the Freshmen-Sophomore Christmas Dance. When I came to pick her up, she was wearing a red velvet dress with black trim and had new glasses with small lenses in gold wire rim frames. The lenses looked like thick pieces of magnifying glass in front of her eyes that had high reflection, hiding her eyes. She was also wearing a gold necklace and matching gold earrings. With her golden curls, gold-framed glasses, and gold necklace and earrings, she looked fantastic. For two of the dances, she took her glasses off and said for me to hold her close and guide her. I could not really see her dark blue-green eyes, even if they were crossing extensively. Sometimes, I could only see a little bit of each eye and a couple of times her eyes looked mostly white for a moment or two. She was, of course, very blind without her glasses, but danced well and seemed to enjoy dancing without them anyway. After we danced, she put her thick, magnifying glasses back on, and said that’s better, I can see again!

By the time, I was in the 10th grade, my glasses had also gotten quite a bit stronger, although nothing like Jenny’s or Nancy’s. My prescription was RE –7.50D, –2.25D × 120; LE –7.75D, – 2.75D × 135, and I was also pretty blind without my glasses. And if Nancy put my glasses on and I put hers on, we both were quite blind, although I could see things better than she could if they were very close to me. We didn’t exchange our glasses very often, as we said that one of us had to be able to see.

We dated all though high school and then, of course, we went to the local university together. Nancy studied English and Fine Arts, and even with her poor eyesight she could draw and paint very well, and I studied engineering. Nancy could also read pretty well wearing her reading glasses and she had also gotten a special reading instrument that projected pages in books onto a computer screen in large print, so she could see them more easily, wearing her glasses.

I found it unusual that both Nancy and Jenny were good artists. Their paintings, however, were very different. Nancy liked to paint landscapes, although they always seemed blurred to me, something like a Monet, and Jenny’s paintings were always very sharp and clear, of landscapes and still-life that she could get close to or of an animal or a person. She did a couple of our dog that were superb.

After graduation, Nancy and I got jobs in our city, and then we got married. Nancy is an illustrator and editor for a small publishing firm and I work for a specialty company that makes precision scientific instruments. My glasses are now much stronger with quite thick (12 mm) lenses and I am also blind without them, but Nancy’s glasses haven’t changed very much, as her’s were very strong from the time I first met her. I can wear contacts, but I don’t wear them very often in deference to Nancy not being able to wear contacts. Nancy is a beautiful wife, with and without her glasses. We both love each other very much and it was Nancy’s glasses that first attracted me to her. Nancy says that it also was my glasses that attracted her to me, but also she thought that I was very good looking!

We now are awaiting the birth of our first daughter. Nancy is seven months pregnant.

Story by Aliena, February, 2003