As my dad drove south into Wisconsin, I played nervously with my new glasses. As hard as I tried I just couldn’t seem to force my eyes into accepting the –9D lenses. I finally found a position on my nose where the glasses gave me reasonable distance vision, although my glasses were now sitting lower than I felt was comfortable. But, I had to be able to see, so that I could take my turn driving tomorrow. Today was going to be a short driving day, since we had started out so late, but dad had planned it this way, and he had a motel reservation in the Dells. In no time at all we were at our motel for the evening.
That evening we all went out for dinner and we wandered around some of the tourist shops in the area. By the time I was ready for bed the position of my new glasses, and my still slightly overcorrected vision had started to feel all right to me. Now if only they felt as good in the morning I would be fine to drive.
The next morning found us on the road early. Dad wanted to get back home in two more days of driving, and with the distance we had to go it meant that we didn’t have any time to spare. I did more than my share of driving over the next two days, and that night when I took off my glasses in my own bedroom I realized that I hadn’t even thought about my vision all day. I had been afraid that I might get headaches from the over correction, but I hadn’t so I was sure that I could adapt, and even be able to get up to the –10D prescription I had decided that I eventually wanted.
After I had gone swimming wearing my –6D swim goggles I knew I was going to have to do something about new swimming goggles. My old goggles were no longer strong enough to give me decent vision, but the worst part was when I put my –9D glasses back on I had a hard time adapting back to the –9D prescription. I did fine as long as I wore my new glasses constantly, and didn’t give my eyes any chance to revert back to the lower strength prescription. So, I got the money from dad for new goggles, and I went to get my new –9D swim goggles. That turned out to be a bit of a problem, as the swim goggles were held tight to my head. I suppose I should have gotten a pair of –8.50D goggles, but they checked my glasses, and of course came up with -9D. So, I swam with my vision overcorrected, as there was no way I could hold the swim goggles away from my face.
The rest of the summer was uneventful. I did a lot of reading, and spent time on the computer. During the last week of August my Mom wanted to take me for my eye examination, which had been booked for me the previous winter, but I told Mom I could see fine, and anyway I had gotten a stronger prescription in my new glasses in Minnesota. So, my younger sister went in my place, and came home with a new pair of glasses of her own. She hadn’t said that she was unable to see things clearly in the distance, but she now had glasses with a –1D prescription to wear for her return to school.
I wasn’t too worried about being able to see the blackboard clearly, as I was able to focus well with my glasses perched in the right spot on my nose. The final year of high school is a pretty demanding year, and I was trying my best to keep my marks up so that I could have my choice of universities the following year. My obsession with vision and eyeglasses took a backseat to my schoolwork, and I don’t even remember when it was during the fall term that I had pushed my –9D glasses tight to the bridge of my nose. I just remember one day I went to lower my glasses to see the blackboard, and when I did the writing on the board became a blur. So, I pushed them tight to the bridge of my nose, and I knew that I had finally adapted to my wonderful –9D glasses.
By late April, as my last year of high school was ending, I found that even with my –9D correction I could no longer see anything more than the 20/40 line on my computer eye test. I told my Mom that it was time for a new eye examination. So, my sister, who had been complaining that her glasses didn’t help anymore, and I were off to the doctor for our eye exams. I was secretly thrilled, as I knew that I would now end up with my long hoped for –10D prescription.
I was a bit apprehensive as to what the doctor would say, as my previous exam had only shown me to have a –6.25D prescription. When my doctor looked at me as I was seated in the chair he gave me a quizzical look.
“Those glasses are stronger than I prescribed on your last visit,” he stated.
“My sister and my brother broke my other glasses when we were on vacation last summer, and since I wasn’t seeing that well again I had another eye exam, and got new glasses right away from a place in Minnesota,” came my reply.
He took my glasses from my face, leaving me sitting in a total blur while he checked the power of my glasses in his lensometer. “ I’ll say you needed new glasses. These were quite a jump from your last prescription. Are you seeing all right with them?” came his comment.
“ No,” I replied, “ I am having trouble seeing the blackboard again.”
Then came the part that I enjoy the most. I am sure that he started off with the same prescription that I had in my present glasses. When he asked me what I could read I made sure that I stumbled over the 20/70 line, and I gave him an O for a C, and a B for a D, and I missed a few others completely. Soon the clicks started, and the 20/40 line came into focus. A few more clicks brought the 20/20 line to a point where it was clear, but all the letters were a bit too small for me to read them. I had held my head back slightly from the machine, and he hadn’t seemed to notice. When he asked which was better between the red and the green I chose the red. Finally he seemed satisfied that he had corrected me as well as he could.
“How did I do Doctor?” I asked.
“Not very well I’m afraid. You have had another big increase. You are now at –11.50 in your right eye, and –11.25 in your left eye. Fortunately you have no astigmatism, so your visual acuity is still very good,” came his reply.
What had happened to the –10 I wanted to stop at? I was slightly frightened, and I wanted to tell him that my eyes weren’t really that bad. I had held my head back from the machine. But I said nothing, and he led me out into the hallway, and handed me my new prescription.
My mom, and my sister were waiting for me, as the other optometrist had examined my sister. Mom asked me how my eyes were, and I merely said that they needed stronger glasses again. My sister piped up and told me that she needed stronger lenses as well.
So, we went off to the local one-hour optical shop. I really wanted to keep my rimless frames, but I knew that with such a strong prescription the opticians would tell me that it was impossible. My sister liked her present frames, so she got new lenses in them. I was a bit surprised when I saw her new prescription. She was now –3.50 in each eye, with a little bit of astigmatism as well. I knew she would now be wearing her glasses all the time also. I chose a new frame with my mom’s help, as I really couldn’t see well enough to see how the frame looked on me. The optician’s assistant took my frame choice, and my new prescription back to the lab manager, and a few minutes later she came out to tell me that my lenses would have to be special ordered, and wouldn’t be ready for 3 days. Not having much choice in the matter I agreed, and my mom paid for both pairs of glasses.
Over the next 3 days while I was waiting for my new glasses to be ready I had very mixed emotions. Part of me was angry with myself for having gotten the really strong –9D glasses in Minnesota, as I was sure that I would not have had such a large increase naturally. But another part of me was excited that I was going to be wearing glasses that were so strong.
When I got home from school on the third day I noticed that the light on the answering machine was blinking. Sure enough, it was the optical store telling me that my new glasses were ready. My mom’s car was in the driveway, since it was not her week to drive to work. I left her a note, telling her where I had gone, and I drove over to pick up my new glasses. My heart was beating rapidly as I approached the sign in counter. I signed in, and as I did an assistant optician came up to me, glanced at my name, and asked me to take a seat. She already had my tray in her hand, and she removed the new glasses carefully from the plastic bag. I could tell that I had made the right frame decision, as the lenses stuck out behind the frame, and seemed a lot thicker than my –9’s were. The assistant had me take my old glasses off, and she carefully placed my new glasses on the bridge of my nose. I was shocked at the clarity of everything. I was positive that I was going to have another long period of adjustment again, but these glasses seemed to give me good vision immediately. She removed them and made some adjustments. I couldn’t see anything but a massive blur, so I had put my old glasses on to watch her. My old glasses now seemed very weak, although I knew they were extremely strong. The adjustments were finished, and I switched glasses again. Again I was amazed at the increased clarity. The assistant asked me to read the eye chart on the other wall, and I was able to do so, right down to the 20/20 line with both eyes together. After I finished, I closed my left eye, and found that I could only see about 20/25 with my right eye, but I didn’t care. As long as I had good vision with both eyes I was pleased. I looked at myself in the mirror, and from the amount of cut in that I could see in the lenses I knew that anyone could tell that these glasses held a pretty massive prescription.
The school year ended, and I went to my graduation dance with my new boyfriend. I think he must have been attracted to me because of my new glasses, as he asked me out within a few days of me wearing my new glasses to school. I graduated as an honors student, and I was accepted into all of the universities I had applied to, so starting next fall I was going to be off to university.
I got over my regrets of having pushed my prescription up a bit too fast. I don’t suppose I will have too many more increases, but I can’t see anything any further than about 5 “ away from my nose without my glasses now, so I guess it doesn’t really matter if my prescription got a bit stronger. Maybe I could even get a pair of myodisc lenses glasses – just to see what they were like to wear of course.
September found me moving into residence at university. I was in one of the new hi rise buildings, and was on the 6th floor. We rode up in the elevator, and I found my room. No one else was there at the time, but the other 3 bedrooms were already occupied, so I knew that I got the vacant room. The way the rooms were laid out was with a little kitchenette, and a common room as you walked in the door. There were 2 bedrooms and a bathroom to each side of the common room. I had the first room to the right of the door. My dad helped me move my stuff up in the elevator, and after a tearful goodbye to my family I was alone in my room.
I unpacked and put away my clothing. The unit was fully furnished, including cooking utensils, so I had not brought anything other than my computer and my bedding, as I had no idea what extra’s the other girls might have brought. I saw a TV, and a digital CD for playing movies set up in the living room, so I knew that one of my roommates had looked after that part. I went into the bathroom I shared with the girl in our side of the apartment, and checked out the medicine cabinets. I opened the one, and inside along with the usual girl stuff I saw a glasses case, and 3 or 4 vials of contact lenses. I picked up one of the vials. On it was written some numbers that read –18D 8.6 14.5. I looked at one of the other vials, and saw that it read –17.50D for power. My roommate had a lot worse eyes than mine. I couldn’t stop myself. I reached for the glasses case, opened it, and saw an exquisite pair of wire- framed glasses with very tiny myodisc circles in the lenses. I had locked the bathroom door, and I couldn’t stop myself. I took my own glasses off and tried my roommates glasses on. The blur through her glasses was about the same as the blur was without my own glasses. I remembered reading that contact lenses were a lower power than glasses, and that as the glasses powers got stronger, the difference in contacts and glasses were much large. I figured that these glasses must have been at least –23D. I put the glasses back, and went back to my room.
A short while later my 3 roommates came through the door, laughing and giggling. I introduced myself to Sheila, a petite brunette with a warm smile, Jane, a tall, big boned good looking girl with long blond hair, and Jen, a pretty, full figured brunette about my height. I immediately tried to figure out who belonged to those strong myodiscs. From the frame size, I bet on Sheila, and I was right when she told us that her contacts were bugging her, so she had to change to her glasses. She came out wearing those lovely looking myodiscs.
I stared at her for a second, and told her, “ Those are beautiful glasses. They look wonderful on you.”
“Thanks for the compliment. I am totally blind without either my glasses or contact lenses, and it makes me feel better about my lousy eyesight when I get a nice compliment about my glasses. Yours look very good on you. How strong are yours?” Sheila inquired.
“Oh, I’m just under –12D. What power are your lenses?” I asked.
“One eye is –23D, and the other eye is –22.25D,” replied Sheila. “ That’s almost 2 times what yours are.”
“ I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you see ok with them?” was my next question.
“I see fine with the contacts, but with my glasses everything is too small. I can drive wearing my lenses, but with my glasses I can barely read the 20/40 line. I don’t mind wearing glasses, but I have so much better visual acuity with contacts that I try to wear them as much as I can,” came Sheila’s reply.
Over the next couple of weeks I discovered that Jane and Jen were both also high minus glasses wearers. Jen was around –10D, and Jane was the lowest power script in our group at -8.50D. Neither Jane, nor Jen would ever wear their glasses out in public, and they were all surprised that I had never worn contact lenses, nor did I have the inclination to ever wear them. Once in a while in the evenings while we were watching TV all 4 of us would be wearing our glasses, and I thought that I was very lucky to be with such a great group of bespectacled ladies.
Sheila and I had some classes together, and if we both had the same morning class, Sheila would often just wear her glasses, and rely on me to help her with anything the prof. wrote on the board. I was glad to help, and I was also pleased to have the company of such a nice person. Other than having a bit of trouble reading the blackboard from anywhere past the middle row in the lecture room Sheila seemed to have no problems seeing things. I had been a bit apprehensive about my eyes getting worse than they were, but after seeing that Sheila was fine with twice as strong a prescription as I had, I quit worrying, and decided that I would take what came my way. My glasses were strong enough that I really enjoyed my appearance wearing them, and so far my eyesight was no problem.
All 4 of us were in the general first year course. Jen and Jane were thinking of nursing. I had pretty well decided that I would go into an optometry related field, and Sheila was thinking of veterinary medicine. I was over at the offices for the ophthalmology department one day just after Easter to pick up some forms I had to complete, and I was collared by a couple of 3rd year students.
“Come on, we need a new guinea pig for our eye exams. You look like your prescription is strong enough to make it worth our while,” the largest guy said.
So, they led me up to the department, and brought me in and sat me down behind the phoropter. I didn’t protest, as it had been a year since my last eye exam, and I was curious to see if my prescription had changed. One of them took my glasses, and checked them with the lensometer.
“-11.50OD, -11.25OS spherical with no cyl Brad,” called out the one who had taken my glasses.
Brad did the preliminary clicks on the phoropter, and in the darkened room asked me if I could read the numbers on the screen. I couldn’t, and the clicks and the questions started. Finally the numbers came into focus, and then the red and green, which is better, test came. This time I chose red, because it was better, not because I wanted a stronger prescription. When Brad was finished he clicked the machine back to around where he had started. Dan came over and did exactly the same exam. When Dan was finished he wrote down the prescription he had found, gave me back my glasses, and took me over to the office area. Brad and Dan compared their findings. It had been a year since my last eye exam, and I had not noticed my eyesight getting any worse, but I now realized that I needed stronger lenses. But, how much of an increase did I need?
We have both arrived at the same prescription, so we think it is pretty accurate. You definitely need an increase in the strength of your lenses. Do you want us to get the professor, so he can write you an official prescription that you can use to get new glasses?” said Brad.
“How much of an increase are you guys talking about here?” I asked.
“You now need –13.00 for your right eye and –12.75 for your left eye,” came Dan’s reply.
“Wow, that’s –1.50D stronger for each eye. I hadn’t really noticed that my vision was worse.” I said.
“Well, with high prescriptions like yours, often wearing your glasses tight to your nose, and a little bit of myopic squinting will overcome this much of an increase. I suggest that you get new glasses though, as we have found that being under corrected is just as bad as being over corrected,” spoke Brad.
“I would suggest that you get new glasses for distance, and keep the old ones for studying, and computer work. Your accommodation for reading is still very good, but by doing this we might be able to keep any further increases to a minimum,” added Dan.
So, Brad went off to get the professor, who wrote me out a prescription for new glasses. The Ophthalmology department has a lens lab right on campus, so I went to the optical store with my new prescription. I was going to have a bit of fun getting this prescription filled in an hour. While I walked over to the store I realized that Brad and Dan were so right. My glasses were really tight to the bridge of my nose, and I had been squinting to see things in the distance. I also realized that I really didn’t look off into the far distance anymore. I just sort of focused on what distance I could clearly see.
I was prepared for a few days wait to get my glasses, but the student optician said they could do them right away for me. I noticed that the professor had written add +1.50 on the bottom of my script, and when the girl asked if I wanted bifocals in my new glasses I told her no, but that I wanted a second pair with regular plastic lenses with bifocals.
“”If you do the regular plastic they are going to be really thick unless we choose a tiny frame. And if we choose a tiny frame, the bifocal will be pretty small,” replied Gail the supervisor.
“Oh, I just want the bifocal’s for when I am at home around the apartment. I just want a large enough eye size that I can be comfortable wearing them,” I told them.
So, I chose a nice oval rose colored and gold wire framed pair with a number 50 eye size for my regular lenses. The hinge was set back from the frame by 10mm, so they instructed the student’s in the lab to have the bevel set no more than 10mm from the rear of the lens, and to have the balance to the front. The other frames I chose were black plastic with an eye size of 47. Both pairs had an 18 bridge. The lenses in my plastic frames were pointed a bit more - more like a football. I went off to catch a class, with them telling me that both pairs would be ready for me after lunch.
Since I was a student, the cost of having both pairs of glasses made on campus was far less than it would have cost me at home. When I picked them up and paid for them I was actually thrilled at the thickness of the regular plastic lenses. They were probably about 5/8” thick, and around ¼” protruded to the front. I put them on first, and immediately I could see what I had been missing. If you are not myopic you don’t know the feeling when you put a new pair of glasses on for the first time, and slide them slowly up your nose, allowing everything to come into a sharp focus as the glasses reach the bridge of your nose. To me, this is a rush like no other. I carefully looked my other glasses over through the bifocal portion of my new glasses. The lenses were plano, and were set exactly at the front of the frame. There was only a thin band of lens edge protruding to the rear. But when I held them so I could see the nose side of one lens and the temple side of the other lens there looked to be over half an inch of power rings both places. I loved them, and I hadn’t even tried them on yet. So, I changed glasses and let the student optician adjust the nose pads, and the earpieces on my other pair. The plastic frames felt so light and comfortable that I wouldn’t let the girl do any adjusting. I had been wearing glasses for long enough now that I have discovered the art of immersing the earpieces in hot water before trying to reshape them, and I often had to do my own adjustments after wearing my glasses for a day or two.
It was good to be able to see properly again. Sheila noticed the increase in the strength of my glasses right away, but Jen and Jane either never noticed, or else never commented. Soon the school year was over, and I was off for the summer. I had applied for and had gotten a job at the optical store where I had gotten my glasses most of my life. It was going to be a great summer. And, when it was time to go back in the fall, Sheila and I had gotten an apartment together. I loved looking at Sheila, and her myodisc glasses, but I didn’t know if I wanted to ever have my eyes get as bad as hers were. But, a little more of an increase wouldn’t be so bad……….
At the end of the school year my dad came by himself to pick me, and my worldly possessions up from the dorms. It was quite late by the time we got back home, and my sister Shira was sound asleep, so I crept into our room and crawled into bed without waking her.
The next morning I heard Shira walking around, so I groped for, and found my glasses. I put them on, and looked at my sister. I couldn’t believe it. The shrimp seemed to be six feet tall. I jumped out of bed, and went over to give her a hug. Well, she wasn’t six feet, but she was at least as tall as I am. I stood back and looked at her. She had her glasses on, and I could swear that her glasses were far stronger than the –3.50 lenses that she had gotten the previous spring. They had a significant amount of cut in, and major power rings.
“Did you get new glasses?” I asked.
“New lenses twice, new frames and lenses once, and I need even stronger lenses than these are now,” was her reply.
“When are you getting the new lenses?” I asked innocently.
“Never,” she replied. “ I hate these f…’n things. These lenses look so thick and ugly. I want contact lenses, but mom won’t buy them for me until I turn 16.”
“So you are going to go around without being able to see properly until you get contact lenses – is that your plan?” I queried.
“ I don’t give a darn if I can see or not, I just know I am not letting them put thicker lenses in these glasses,” she replied.
“Oh Shira, that’s just being silly. I have had a prescription increase, and I had to get new glasses. These aren’t too thick, but you should see my other glasses, they are really thick, and they have bifocals as well,” I told my sister.
“That’s fine for you. You like wearing glasses. I hate glasses, and I don’t want to wear them.” Shira replied.
“How strong are your new lenses supposed to be?” was my next question.
Shira took the prescription blank from her purse, and read off the numbers that were written on it. -8.25 x –0.50 x90 and –8.00 x –75 x 85,” she read.
I gasped. Her prescription had only been –3.50 with a bit of astigmatism only 13 months ago. That was almost –5D of an increase in that period of time.
“What caused your eyes to get that bad so fast?” I asked
“Our doctor said that my eyes grew longer in length almost as fast as my height increased. Now I am blind as a bat without glasses. But I don’t want thicker lenses. Help me talk mom and dad into getting me contacts Emily. Please, help me, you can do it. I know you can.” Shira begged.
I’ll try, but you know how stubborn they can be,” I told my sister.
Sure, my parents were stubborn, but I knew from past experiences that Shira was just as stubborn as out parents were. If she said she wasn’t getting new lenses for her glasses, I was sure that nothing in this world could make her do it.
I got dressed and headed to the optical store where I was working for the summer. I was introduced around, and I got a lot of instruction in helping customers. I was almost ready to handle my first customer on my own when the manager called me to her office. I didn’t think I had been around long enough to get into any trouble, so I went cheerfully. I closed the door as she instructed me, and sat down at the opposite side of her desk.
“Do you wear contact lenses Emily?” she inquired of me.
“No, I’ve never felt the need to wear contacts. They seem like a lot of bother and expense, and it is so much easier jut to put my glasses on when I want to see things,” I answered.
“We could get you lenses at no charge if you wanted to try them out,” she answered.
“No, I don’t have any desire to wear contact lenses. Anyway, doesn’t wearing glasses in this job help promote the wearing of glasses?” I answered with a question.
She was a bit flustered, and seemed to have trouble forming her words. “Well, with a normal prescription I would say yes, but your prescription is a little, well you know what I mean.”
“You mean my glasses are really strong. It isn’t my fault that I am very nearsighted.” I felt like asking her if she was afraid my high minus prescription would scare away the little kids who had to get glasses for the first time. But I thought I had better keep my mouth shut, just in case that was exactly what she was thinking. “If I don’t want to get contact lenses, even free ones, do I still have the job?”
“Oh, yes, yes, of course you do. I just thought you might like to wear contacts, and had never tried them. We do have a very good fitter here.”
I was pissed off. But I didn’t show it, so I left her office, and went about my work as a frame stylist. We had a break coming to us for lunch, so I grabbed a burger at the food court in the mall, ate it quickly, and went back to work. I was curious about my sister’s rapid myopic progression. I had been shown how to work the computer, so I entered my sister’s name, and her file came up. I hadn’t realized that when she got her first prescription she had had over 1D of astigmatism in each eye. When she had the increase to –3.50, her astigmatism had been –1.25 in one eye, and –1.50 in the other. Then in September her prescription had been –4.75, with the same cylinder script. By Christmas she had increased to –6.25, by March she was –7.50, but her cylinder had dropped by -.75 in each eye. Now in late May she was –8.25 x –0.50 x 90, and –8.00 x 0.75 x 85. Of course, since she had just gotten that prescription, and was refusing to fill it, her new prescription wasn’t in the computer. I could see that with this change in prescription it was possible she could go for a while without getting her new lenses, but she would be seeing quite poorly.
I really, really enjoyed my work. It was a lot of fun assisting people with their frame choices, and other than the first day my manager hadn’t mentioned another word about me getting contact lenses. I had been on the job for about a month when a boy I had gone to school with came in. We all knew he was very nearsighted, but he had steadfastly refused to get a pair of glasses. His poor eyesight had been the butt of many jokes, and privately I had felt that he was being foolish. He was very good looking, but no one had wanted to be his guide dog, so I don’t think he had dated anyone. I walked up to him, and greeted him.
“Hi Josh. Have you finally broken down and decided that you should get glasses?” I asked. “ If you have you have come to the right place.”
“He did the myopic squint that he was famous for in school, and he peered intently at me.“ Emily! Are you working here now? I thought you went off to university.”
“This is just a summer job Josh. I am going through to become an optometrist, so working here is great training. Have you got your prescription with you?”
He handed me the prescription blank. “My eyesight has gotten a lot worse Emily. I got a job working with computers, but lately I have been making a lot of mistakes, so my boss told me that if I made one more major mistake I was out on my ear. I just can’t see well enough to do my job.”
I looked at the prescription, and I knew why he was making mistakes. His glasses prescription read OD –13.25 x –1.00 x 167 OS –12.75 x –1.25 x 180. There were some other numbers, and on reading them I realized that he also needed 5 degrees of base out prism in each eye. I couldn’t believe that here was a person with eyesight as poor as mine who was walking around without correction. So much for all the experts who say that putting minus glasses on kids condemns them to a life of glasses. Here is a person who has never worn glasses, and has struggled to survive, but could no longer survive. He had finally had to give in to glasses.
I helped Josh choose a frame. I knew that normally our lab manager would have told me that it would be 3 days for a prescription like mine. And for Josh’s prescription, with the prism, I was pretty sure he would refuse to even attempt it. But I went in and talked to him. I told him Josh was a friend of mine, that he had broken his glasses, and would likely loose his job if he didn’t get new ones right away. So our lab man agreed to do it as long as we didn’t rush him. I went out, and got Josh set up with the optician, who by law had to do the measuring of the PD, and the other stuff, but before he got to her, I told him to be sure to say he had totally destroyed his old glasses. He tried to ask why, but I told him to just do it, I would explain later. After Josh’s order was put in, I asked if I could break for lunch. It was early, and we were not busy, so the boss told me to go ahead and keep my friend company.
I had a good time talking to Josh. But I was curious as to why he had previously refused to have his eyes tested, and get a pair of glasses. His answers surprised me. His parents belonged to a group that didn’t believe in doctors. If one was sick, they prayed for them to get better. If one had poor eyesight, they prayed for the person’s eyesight to improve. Finally Josh had left his parent’s home, and had decided that his job was more important to him than the foolish belief that prayer would cure the weakness of his eyes. Finally my hour was up, so I walked Josh back to the store. I didn’t want to rush the lab man, so I didn’t even approach the lab. I knew that Josh had been issued tray 112, so I located the tray through the window. The tray was in a pile by the lensometer, and the optician was checking each tray. I looked as she pulled Josh’s new glasses out of the tray, and placed each lens under the lensometer. I felt almost the same tingles as I felt when I saw my own new glasses. I had made up my mind that if Josh didn’t ask me out, I was going to suggest that we meet for coffee sometime. Oh, in case you didn’t realize it, I am an optically obsessed person. Glasses are a real turn on for me, and while I don’t necessarily want a boyfriend with glasses as strong as Josh was going to be wearing I was more than interested in him. It also helped that he was cute as well.
The tray came out through the window, so I went over and got Josh. I led him to the seat, and I got his new glasses from the tray. I cleaned the lenses, feeling the extreme thickness that the 5 degrees of prism added to the outer edges of the lenses. I carefully put his new glasses on, and slid them slowly into place on the bridge of his nose. He blinked a few times, squinted his eyes, and then relaxed them as he focused on me.
“Emily, you are beautiful,” were his first words.
“That’s only because I’m the first girl you have been able to see clearly in over 5 or 6 years Josh. Tell me that in a week or two,” I joked.
“How do I look Emily?” Josh asked.
“Good enough to go out with now that you can see me Josh.” Pretty forward of me I will admit, but I was feeling very excited seeing Josh with his new glasses on.
“Great, how about a movie tomorrow night?” Josh asked.
“Sure, what do you want to see?” I asked.
“I haven’t been able to see a movie for years. You pick one and we will go to it.”
Josh left the store, and I hoped he was as happy with his new glasses as I was with him, and his new glasses. He had always been quiet, and polite, and unable to see a darned thing. I hoped that now he had glasses we would have fun together.
When I got home that night I walked into an argument between Shira and mom. Mom wanted Shira to get her new lenses in her glasses, and Shira was just as adamant that she wasn’t going to do it. So, I told them both about Josh, having a prescription worse than mine, and never having had a pair of glasses until today.
“So, mom it isn’t like she is going to ruin her eyes by not getting new lenses. Her old lenses are only about –1D less than she requires, and if she doesn’t want new lenses, she is the one moving around in the blur.” I told her.
“But I want her to get her driver’s license as soon as she is 16, and she won’t be able to pass the eye exam,” replied my mom.
“When that time comes in the fall, Shira can decide then if she will get her new glasses. Anyway, didn’t you and dad promise to get her contacts for her 16th birthday?” I asked
“We said we would talk about contacts when she turned 16. But if she isn’t responsible enough to wear the proper glasses now, we might rethink that,” mom said.
Shira stormed angrily from the room. I went to the living room and was watching the news. I heard the flute playing from our upstairs bedroom, and I knew that Shira was trying to clam down. She has always retreated into music when she was upset. I thought she likely wanted privacy, but I needed to get my phone book from our room, so I quietly went into our room. Shira had her back to me, and she was reading from some sheet music on the music stand. I looked at the glasses that she had on, and was amazed to see that Shira was wearing my –9D rimless ones that we had gotten in Minnesota three summers ago.
Shira caught a glimpse of movement and turned to me. She realized that she was wearing my old glasses, and a sheepish grin appeared on her face. “Oops, busted.”
“That’s ok, you can wear them if they help you. But come on sis, you can get nice looking lenses in your prescription, so why not give in.”
“Don’t push me. I will think about it.”
A few days later Shira and mom appeared at the optical store. I helped her select new frames, and the lab man made her lenses as thin as he possibly could. Shira looked fantastic wearing her new glasses, but I would think that way, wouldn’t I?
The summer flew by rapidly. Josh and I seemed to be dating a lot. I liked him, and I was sort of pleased that he hadn’t gotten glasses when we were still in high school. It might sound stupid to say this, but I think he is a nicer person for what he had to endure. And, even if he isn’t any nicer than he would have been, if he had gotten glasses in high school, he might have already found a girlfriend. He fascinates me, with his prescription being quite similar to mine, but with the prism making his lenses so much thicker at the outer edges. And, his job is going so much better now that he can see that he already has been given a raise in pay. Now he has gotten his drivers license, and he claims he will drive over to see me at the university on weekends.
It had been less than 2 months since my sister Shira had broken down and had gotten new glasses, after adamantly refusing to do so for over a month since she had gotten a new prescription. Already though I had noticed her doing some major power squints to see things in the distance, so I had a pretty good hunch that her school eye exam would be a failure, and she would require even stronger lenses. I wondered how much of a fuss this was going to create. A couple of days before I was going to go back to the university I walked into our shared room to find Shira trying to read music from the sheet music on her music stand and play her flute. She had to get awfully close to the small print of the music to see it.
“Are you having trouble with your vision again Shira.” I asked, knowing that I would likely have a full-fledged fight on my hands.
Shira looked at me and I could see tears forming on her cheeks behind the lenses of her glasses as she said, “I can’t see the music any more Em.”
I absolutely positively hate it when anyone calls me “Em”: my name is Emily. However, I thought it best to let this pass, as Shira seemed to be pretty upset.
“I have my old glasses that I got last summer before I started university. Would you like to try them?” I asked, thinking that she would probably refuse.
I was surprised when she nodded an acceptance, but I didn’t show it, and I got my –11.50R and –11.25R out of their case. I handed them to Shira, and she put them on.
“Oh my gosh Emily, I can see everything so much clearer!” Shira exclaimed.
“You might have to slide them down the bridge of your nose if they seem too strong for you.” I told her.
“Will they hurt my eyes if I wear them when I want to see things in the distance better?” Shira asked.
I told her that they wouldn’t hurt her eyes, but it would be a good thing if she used them sparingly until she had another eye test, and got glasses with her correct prescription. I don’t have any astigmatism, and I told her that without the astigmatic correction that she needs things would be a little blurry.
I was surprised during the next day, and even on the following day when I was getting ready to leave when I noticed that Shira had been wearing my –11.50 glasses constantly. I hadn’t seen her in her own since she had tried mine on.
I hugged her goodbye, and I said. “Remember sis, don’t wear my old glasses too much until you get your own new ones.”
“I have to wear yours. I can’t see anything with mine anymore,” came her reply.
I thought back, and I realized that Shira’s old glasses had been –8.75 including her astigmatism. Mine had been –9 when I had gotten the –11.50D glasses, so I guessed the jump was within normal parameters. I had pushed my prescription from about –7 to –9, and then I had gone a year before I went to –11.50. But for Shira it had been barely 4 months. That was some progression – almost a diopter a month. Now, you know me, I like glasses, and I like strong prescriptions; more so on other people than on me, but at this rate Shira was going to have a prescription a lot like Sheila’s by the time her progression stopped.
It was good to get back to university, and see all my old friends. Shelia and I were very happy in our new apartment. And we chatted for hours the first night. I told her all about Josh, and she told me about her boyfriend Darren. Darren wore glasses, but he was a very low minus – around –3D I gathered. Sheila was still wearing the same glasses, and told me that for the first time in her glasses wearing life she had not had any increase in her prescription this year.
Things settled into a routine existence. Almost every weekend both Josh and Darren would drive over to see us. Of course, they both slept on the couch in the living room, like our parents believed. Or maybe I should say like our parents wanted to believe. The four of us had a lot of fun together, as Josh and Darren were very compatible. I could see if Sheila married Darren, and I married Josh we would be good friends in later life.
Josh had been wearing his glasses for about 6 months now, and one weekend he showed up wearing glasses that looked a bit nicer than his other ones, but to an optic obsessive girl like me I was sure they looked a bit stronger. He admitted that they were. His prescription had needed some fine-tuning, and he was now –14.50 x –1.50 x 167 OD, and –14.75 x –1.25 x 180 OS, with 8 degree base out prism. I was surprised that his myopia had increased, but he told me that the doctor had advised him that once his eyes became accustomed to the glasses, an increase in prescription strength was likely. The stronger prescription didn’t seem to bother him, and he still looked very handsome wearing his new glasses. He also still thought I was extremely pretty, so I guess his new glasses were all the better to see me with.
Pre med is one heck of a workload. Since Sheila wanted to be a veterinarian, she also took many of the same classes I did, and we both were struggling to maintain our grades. But once the Christmas exams were over, and we headed off to our respective family homes for the holidays we felt a whole lot better.
Josh picked me up and drove me home. It sure was great to see mom and dad, and my little brother Daniel again. However, there was nothing little about Daniel, as he was way taller than my 5’7” Even Shira had grown taller again, and she was at least 3” taller. And, when I looked at her glasses I could tell that she had had a pretty strong prescription increase, as her lenses looked at least as strong as my –13’s, maybe even stronger.
It was a good thing that Shira seemed to have accepted her increasing myopia. When we sat down at the supper table that evening for a family dinner the subject got around to vision, and eyesight. My parents were pleased to see that my lenses had remained the same since the previous spring, as Shira had now surpassed me. Shira had just come back from seeing a pediatric eye specialist, and it turns out that she has a structural weakness in the back wall of her eye. This weakness, which oblongs the rear of the eye is known as a posterior staphloma. In most cases the patient develops around –3D of myopia for every 1 mm of elongation of the eye. This usually only occurs in people who experience rapid growth during their teenage years, and in most cases it stops after the growth spurts stop.
“What is your prescription now Shira?” I innocently asked.
“-15.50 x –150 x 90 and – 15.00 x –2.00 x 85,” was what she read from her prescription slip.
“Is that the prescription that you have in those glasses?” I asked.
“Yes, I just got these a couple of days ago,” came her reply.
“They look great. They certainly don’t look that strong,” I commented.
And I meant the compliment, but as I looked at her eyes, severely minified behind the strong lenses, and the large amount of cut in at the edges, as well as the almost 5/8” of power rings at the edge of her glasses when I looked at her glasses from an angle at the front I knew I was seeing a strong lens, a lens that most people wouldn’t even notice was that strong. For a minute I envied my sister, with a prescription so much stronger than mine was now, but that moment passed. I hadn’t said anything to anyone, but I had been noticing that things were getting a bit blurry in the distance again myself, and I had been using the trial lens set that I had purchased from the internet a few years ago to check my vision on a regular basis recently. The worst-case scenario was that my lenses were going to have to increase by –1D, but most days I could still see the eye chart fine with the –0.75D lenses in front of my glasses. I was procrastinating having my eyes tested – me the one who had faked out an optician and had gotten glasses –2D stronger than I needed…………..
Well, Emily is away, so I will post part 6. She didn't want to become more myopic, and I have snuck her prescription up a bit. But, just remember that this is a fantasy now, so all is fair.
I was pleased to be back at school after the Christmas break. However, it seemed to be a little hard for me to get back into the routine of things, so I knew I was going to have to work extra hard. Soon Sheila and I were up to our shoulders with assignments that seemed to be late before we were even given them.
I hadn’t realized that I had been squinting as much to see things as I had. One day, soon after Sheila and I had moved closer to the lectern in order for me to see the professors writing on the board I had to have Sheila decipher what the proff. had written.
“Emily, when you have to ask me to read the board for you it’s about time you had your eyes checked.” Sheila scolded me.
That night I went home and tried to read the eye chart with my –1D trial lenses. My test kit has only the 4 lenses in 0.25D steps, and even with the –0.75 and the –1 lens together, I could barely see the 20/30 line. So, the next day I went over to the Ophthalmology department. I signed in for an eye test, and soon a 4th year student came to get me. My file was on the computer from last year, so they didn’t have to take my glasses off to check my old prescription, and it was directly to the chair. And, to me this felt like the electric chair. I had been dreading a change in my prescription. I felt that my present –13D glasses looked a little on the strong side, and I didn’t want them any stronger. I am an optic obsessive person, but I just wanted to observe other peoples strong lenses. I didn’t want to actually have to look through them.
The female student placed some drops in my eyes, and I knew that this time it was going to be cyclographic refraction. I wouldn’t have the choice of cheating or not, as the drugs would eliminate this possibility. Not that I wanted more minus, but it seemed like the choice had been taken from me. Click,click,click went the lenses in front of my right eye. 3 clicks, so that is probably -0.75D. That wouldn’t be too bad, but my own trial lenses showed over –1.75D. Now a couple more clicks, and the blurred line came into sharp focus. Then they went to a smaller line, and it was a couple more clicks. That was –1.75 by my counting. Then came the red and green. I wanted to say green, but the red was really the better choice, so I admitted that red made things look sharper. Then they repeated the process on my left eye, but I think they had started with a stronger lens in the first place, as there were only 3 clicks before they asked the green or red question.
Then they checked the pressure in my eyes, and did all sorts of other tests. The doctor joined them before they were finished, and he double-checked their findings. Finally I put my own glasses back on, and was surprised at how blurred everything now looked.
“You are a pretty nearsighted young lady Emily. Is there a family history of high myopia?” asked the doctor.
“My sister has been diagnosed with a posterior staphloma,” I told him.
“You have that as well,” replied the doctor. “That is why you have developed such a high degree of myopia. Although, fortunately for you, it appears that the bulging in the back wall of your eye is slowing down.”
“What is my new prescription doctor?” I asked nervously.
“Right eye is –15.75, left one is –15.50,” replied the doctor.
I heard the numbers, and a numb feeling came over me. That was more than –1.75D, more like –2.75D. They must have skipped a couple of lenses when they were going up. I knew I needed new glasses very badly, but now I was in the same position Shira had been last spring. I didn’t want them. The doctor handed me the prescription blank, and I wandered out of the office in a fog. Without really thinking about what I was doing I had walked over to the university optical lab. I stood in front of the door for a minute, trying to stop myself from going in. Finally I realized that I really had no choice. I couldn’t continue to function without new glasses. I showed the 3rd year student at the desk the doctor’s slip, and she let out a little gasp when she saw it.
“Oh, I’ve never seen one this high yet. The other opticians have all told me that we have customers up in the –20’s but I have never had the pleasure to help out one of them,” she said.
“Nice recovery.” I told her. “You came pretty close to putting your foot in it.”
“I know I did. It was entirely unintentional. Now if you will forgive me, I would love to help you choose a new frame.”
So, together we chose a frame that would hold the new lenses, and would still close so that I could put them back in the case when I was done wearing them. I sure was glad that there had been so many advances in lens materials, as these lenses would have been thick chunks of plastic in CR39 in a large frame size like they wore in the ‘80’s and the early 90’s. The lab was having a 2 for 1 sale, so I decided that I would get a pair with the cheap thick chunks of plastic lenses and I would have them tinted for sunglasses. We chose another pair of frames, a pair that had the hinges set back over ¾”, and were a nice black plastic, with oval shaped lenses.
“Don’t tint them until I see them, and let me know as soon as either pair arrives,” I asked her, and she agreed.
A week went by, and I continued my myopic squint. I had not realized how blurred my life had gotten. Then the phone had a message on it telling me that one pair of my glasses were ready, so I went over to the optical department to pick them up.
Sure enough, it was the pair with the super thick CR39 lenses. Although, I was a bit surprised that while they looked thick, they didn’t feel that thick when I put them on. Of course, when my glasses are right in front of my eyes, they don’t look strong at all – they look just right. Again I marveled at the clarity of everything as I walked back to the apartment. I wasn’t pleased about the prospect of having to wear these glasses all weekend, but at least Josh would understand, and would be happier for me that I could see better again.
I was surprised with how good my vision was through the thick glasses. I had expected a plano base curve, and it appeared to me that the lab had done a slightly negative base, putting a bit of the power into the front of my lenses. I hoped that my other glasses were not like this, as I didn’t really like the feeling of tunnel vision these glasses gave me. And, when I walked down a hall, or through a doorway, the hall walls curved in top and bottom, as did the doorway. I had to look at everything right through the dead center of the lenses. But, I did get used to them very quickly.
The weekend was fine. Josh, the sweet talker that he is, made me feel beautiful even with these glasses. He is so good for my ego. Darren merely commented that they looked fine, but he liked Sheila’s glasses better. He had better like Sheila’s glasses better; as that is the girl he is going out with, and hopes to marry.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday went by without a call from the lab. Thursday I called them. One of the hi-index lenses had broken, and they were forced to redo it. The glasses would be a few more days, definitely not this weekend.
I was getting to the point where enough people had seen me wearing these thick glasses that I no longer felt self-conscious anymore. And I actually liked the softness of vision that CR39 was giving me. I had heard that hi index lenses pull more on your eyes, but had not realized the actual effect. After all, the last time I had had CR39 that I wore a lot was when I had a –1D prescription. I didn’t really count the bifocals that I got last year, as I hardly ever wore them. Finally, my other glasses were ready. I was going to have the lenses tinted in the CR39glasses, but I decided that I would keep them as clear lenses so that I could wear them when my eyes felt tired from studying.
I liked my new hi-index lensed glasses, and as usual I rapidly became accustomed to the excellent vision they gave me. I really didn’t like it at first when I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw how tiny and recessed my eyes looked behind the lenses. Also, the cut in effect, which I had loved in my older glasses was now at the point where, even in the small frame size that I had chosen, a good half inch on each side of my face through the lenses. Even Sheila’s myodiscs didn’t show much more cut in for her. I loved wearing glasses, but I certainly hoped that this was as strong as they would get.
That weekend when Josh showed up at the apartment I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had gotten new glasses. The lenses, in a very small eye size, were very close to 1” thick at the outside edges, and the thickness of them gave the effect of the side shields that factory workers wear.
“Josh, what happened? Did your eyes get a lot worse?” I queried.
“Nope, this is just my prescription in regular plastic. You liked your regular plastic lenses so much that I thought I would see what it felt like to have a pair myself,” Josh replied.
“But they are so thick, and in such a small eye size. Your prescription is in the same range as mine, so what makes them so thick?” I asked.
“With me it is the prism. I have 8 degrees of prism in my other glasses, but the doctor left my prescription the same, and increased my prism to 10 degrees. That gives the effect of adding 10 diopters of prescription thickness to the outer edge. This is the thickest lens blank, and the biggest eye size that I could get without the outer edge having to be flattened off, and giving me the myodisc effect like Sheila,” Josh told me.
I should have known that from working at the optical store in the summer, but I hadn’t really gotten into prisms. I knew that next year, when I was working in the school optical department as a 3rd year ophthalmology student I would likely get into this, but I was a bit surprised right now.
“Do you like the vision they give you?” I asked.
“ I like the fact that they are easier on my eyes. What I really found funny was that people wouldn’t look me directly in the eyes anymore. They seem to look at my glasses, and then avert their eyes. I think maybe they don’t want to seem like they are staring at me.” Josh answered.
That was something I hadn’t considered. Was it possible that once a person’s glasses got to a certain thickness, and appearance that they lost eye contact? Was this why so many people with strong prescriptions struggled with contact lenses?