When I was 6 years old and in first grade, I decided I wanted to wear glasses. As I look back on this, I really can’t rationalize my desires. I just knew that I wanted to wear glasses. There was only one problem. I didn’t need glasses. My mother didn’t wear glasses; my father didn’t wear glasses, nor did either of my 2 older sisters. I had a first cousin who wore glasses, but I didn’t like the looks of her glasses very much because they made her eyes look all big and magnified. I wanted the type of glasses that made your eyes look very clear and a bit smaller looking behind the lenses. Since my cousin was farsighted, I knew that what I wanted to be was called nearsighted.
So, I started to pretend that I had to go closer to the chalkboard to see what my teacher was writing on the board. When I was home watching television, I would always get really close to the television, and my parents would tell me to get back from the television so that I wouldn’t ruin my eyes. When I was reading I made sure that I brought whatever I was reading very close to my eyes to read. Finally my teacher sent a note home to my parents suggesting that they take me to a doctor for an eye examination.
I remember sitting in the doctor’s office. He looked into my eyes with a beam of light, and then he asked me to read some letters from a line of letters on the wall. I could see the letters pretty good, but I made sure I only read one of them properly. So, he swung this big machine in front of my face, and I heard him click something a few times. Then he asked me if I could read the letters now. So, I read them all.
I remember exactly what the doctor said to my mother. “Well, Eileen is a little bit nearsighted. It is nothing to really worry about, and it is such a minor prescription it is entirely up to you to decide if you wish to get her glasses.”
“What do you suggest doctor?” Mother asked.
“Well, it won’t do her any harm to get glasses. Her prescription is only –0.25D in each eye with another –0.25D of astigmatism and she wouldn’t have to wear them all the time. But even with that small bit of astigmatism she will probably be able to see a bit better with glasses.” Doctor replied.
Mother decided to talk this over with my father, so I didn’t get glasses that day. When I got back home I told my mom I had a headache, and I went off to my room. I was really afraid that my dad would say that I could wait for another year. When I went down for supper my dad asked me if I wanted to get glasses, so I told him that I did, because I wanted to be able to see things on television clearly without having to sit so close to the screen.
The following day my mom picked me up after school, and we went to a one-hour optical store to get my new glasses. Now I had my own glasses to wear, and I wore them proudly all of the time.
One of the second grade girls from my neighborhood also wore glasses. Our frames were the same brand, but I knew that her glasses were stronger than mine, because one day soon after I had gotten my glasses she came over to me and asked me to let her look through my glasses. After she did this she looked at me strangely and asked why I wore my glasses all of the time. I told her that they helped me to see clearly. She then let me look through her glasses, and when I first put hers on, I could tell that her lenses were a lot stronger than my own lenses. But, after a few minutes I was able to see fairly well through her glasses. I didn’t want to give them back, but of course I had to, and I told her that hers were stronger than mine, and I asked her why she didn’t wear hers all the time. She told me that she didn’t like wearing glasses, and didn’t want to wear them any more than necessary.
It snowed a lot that winter, and the banks of snow were piled up on both sides of the sidewalks. It was a 20 minute walk from the school to my house, and one day when I was walking home I found a glasses case on the sidewalk. As soon as I opened the case and looked at the glasses inside I knew that they were Angela’s glasses. I put them on, and walked the rest of the way home wearing them. By the time I got home I knew I wanted to keep these glasses, but I also knew that Angela would not be able to see the board at school unless I gave them back to her. It was Thursday, and I was planning to take them to school with me Friday, and give them back to Angela, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I wanted to keep them for just the weekend.
Monday morning when I got to school the first person I saw was Angela. She was wearing glasses. I was a bit surprised, but I knew they had to be new ones, so I asked her if she had gotten new glasses. She told me that she had lost her other glasses, but she needed new ones anyway, so her mom had taken her to the mall for an eye exam on Friday after school, and she had gotten new glasses. She wasn’t very happy about it, because her new glasses were stronger than her old ones were, and now she had to wear them all the time.
That night when I went home from school I put on Angela’s glasses. I wore them down for supper, and I wore them all that evening watching television. My parents, and my older sisters didn’t even notice the difference. So, that evening, back in my room, I popped the lenses out of Angela’s glasses. Then I took the lenses out of my own glasses, and I tried to put Angela’s lenses in my own frames. It was difficult, and I was afraid I would break my frames, but I was able to snap Angela’s lenses into place in my frames. I had to do this because I knew Angela would have noticed if I had shown up wearing her brown frames in place of my own black ones. I smashed my lenses with a hammer, and I put the frames and lenses into the case. The following day I buried Angela’s glasses in the snow bank near where I had found them. If anyone found them before the snow melted I hoped that Angela and her parents would think that the snowplow had broken the lenses.
When I first started wearing Angela’s lenses I could take my glasses off, and after a few minutes of not wearing glasses I could focus on things in the distance again. However, I didn’t take my glasses off very often. Winter turned into spring, which turned into summer, and one day I took my glasses off to see if I could still see without them. Finally I had to admit to myself that I could not make my distance vision become clear anymore, and I put my glasses back on. Now it was no longer a game, I really needed glasses.
I hadn’t taken the time to think about what I would do if I had to go back to the doctor for another eye exam. I could see quite well with my glasses, and I was surprised when my mom announced that she had scheduled an eye exam for me the following day. I began to panic. I knew that the doctor would notice that the lenses in my glasses were not the same ones I had gotten the previous fall. So, when we went to the mall the next day I left my glasses at home. When we got to the doctor’s office, the receptionist asked if I had brought my glasses.
“No, I left them at home.” I said.
“Eileen, you always wear your glasses. Why didn’t you bring them today?” Mother asked.
“I didn’t feel like wearing them.” I replied.
With this mother gave the receptionist an exasperated look, and shrugged her shoulders, as if to say, “Who knows what kids are thinking these days?”
This time I really couldn’t see the letters that were on the wall. The doctor made the letters bigger, and bigger, and finally I could almost see the 2 letters on the second line clearly. Then he brought the machine with the lenses in front of my eyes, and started clicking lenses again. Soon I could read all the letters on the line that he showed me again. I was asked quite a few times which was better, and then he made everything red, and then green. I told him the red was better, and finally he quit.
“Well, Eileen has had quite an increase in her prescription since last fall.” Doctor told my mom.
“What is her new prescription?” Mother asked.
“She now needs –2.50D x –0.75D x 165 for her right eye, and –2.75 x – 0.50 x 180 for her left eye. With this prescription she should wear them all the time now.” The doctor said.
I was very happy to hear this. And I was even happier when I got my new glasses and found out that I really could see a lot better with them. When I was back at home I compared my new glasses with Angela’s old lenses, and my new glasses were stronger. I thought I had been able to see perfectly, but I really hadn’t.
I spent the last week of my summer holidays reading everything I could. I wore my new glasses all of the time, and I brought my book to within about 7 or 8 inches from my glasses. Then when school started I asked the teacher for a seat in the front row, and I continued my habit of reading with my eyes very close to my books.
I thought it would be easy to get to wear even stronger glasses by doing this. But, the next fall, before I went into third grade, I had another exam, and I was very disappointed that my eyes had not changed at all. There was nothing I could do. I had to keep the same glasses for another year. I continued with my close up reading habits for the next year. Then when I had my yearly exam just before I went into grade 4, I did need new glasses. However the increase in my prescription was a puny –0.50D in each eye. This was almost as bad as not having any increase at all.
Grade 5, Grade 6, grade 7 and grade 8 flew by. I could only manage an increase of –0.50D every 2 years, much to my disgust. After Grade 9 I was elated. I needed a whole –1D then. By the end of grade 10 I managed to push myself for another –0.75D. This gave me –5.75D x –0.75 x 165 and – 6.00 x – 0.50 x 180. But, this was not yet the look I wanted. So just before my birthday in March of the year I turned 17, I photocopied my prescription, used white out on the first numbers, and copied it again. Then I changed the prescription to –7.75D and –8.00D with the same amount of astigmatism. I got the lenses changed in my existing glasses at the same optician that had made my glasses the previous summer.
No one seemed to notice anything. I finished my grade 11 wearing these glasses, and I managed to beg out of my usual eye exam by telling my parents that I was able to see just fine with my present glasses. And I could. I was able to tell that they were too strong, but I was very comfortable wearing them.
That fall my grade 12 science teacher seemed to take more than a passing interest in me. He often found a way to talk with me about my vision and my glasses. I began to feel that he might be an optically obsessed person. He told me about his wife, who was quite nearsighted, and one day he even brought in some of her old glasses for me to try on. I had a little bit of astigmatism, and his wife had no astigmatism at all, but there were a couple of pairs of glasses that I really liked, and I thought I might be able to wear. So Mr. Rutland let me keep a pair that had a prescription of –9.25D and a pair with a prescription of –10.50D. I didn’t like the frame style of the –9.25D pair as well as I liked the –10.50D glasses, so after the snow melted, and I had my 18th birthday, I began wearing the –10.50D glasses to school every day. My 2 older sisters had left the house, and were away at university, so I had my own bedroom, and I could also wear these glasses at night when I was studying. It was hard to get used to wearing these glasses. I probably had just reached the point where I needed the other glasses with the –7.75D and –8.00D prescription. Now I was trying to wear glasses that were about –2.50D stronger. Many times I wondered if I could manage, but every time I thought of giving up I realized that my desires burned too strongly to quit now.
I knew that I really should wear these glasses all summer. The only problem was that my mom had gotten me a summer job at the Wall Mart where she worked. So, I was going to be working in close proximity to her every day. Could I pull this off?
My first step was to purchase myself a pair of clip on sunglasses. I would use the clip-on sunglasses every time I rode to work with mom, and she never once seemed to notice that my glasses looked any different when I took the sunglasses off as we walked into the store. I was very fortunate that I was assigned to the women’s clothing section, and mom was a floor manager, so we really didn’t have close contact during the day. Often I would ride home with mom, and if dad were at home, sitting on the front porch with a beer, I would remove my clip-ons and sit down and talk to him. Three weeks went by with me doing this, and no one had even noticed that my glasses were different, so I figured that my parents would not notice now.
By the end of the summer I felt very comfortable wearing the –10.50D glasses. I had spent a lot of time on the internet, and I had been very surprised that there actually were a few other girls who were also trying to increase their prescription. I had also spent a lot of time exchanging e mails with an older gentleman, who gave me a lot of very good advice. I had been very careful not to give out any personal information over the internet, but I suppose I had told a few people the city and state where I lived. I had also used my own first name, and I had given this gentleman the name of my teacher who had given me the glasses I was now wearing.
After the summer was over I went off to university like my sister’s had done a couple of years previously. Just before I left for school, Mr. Rutland called me, and I met with him at a nearby mall. There he gave me the glasses his wife had just replaced. His wife now had a prescription of –12.50D, and her old glasses were –11.25D. While we were at the mall, Mr. Rutland wanted me to wear these glasses for him, so I did. I could not really see very well, but I was thrilled to have these glasses to wear whenever I could manage to do so comfortably.
By the following March, when I turned 19, I thought it was time for me to try wearing the –11.25D glasses. I was doing a lot of close up work, and I had reached a point where I could bring everything fairly close to the –10.50D lenses, so I thought that my eyes had probably adapted. So, I began to wear the –11.25D glasses and I found they worked fairly well. By this time I was earning my own money, so when my dad asked if I had gotten new glasses, I simply told him I had, and nothing further was said.
Again that summer I worked with mom, and when the summer was over I went back to school. I still spent a lot of time on the internet, and I chatted with quite a number of others who claimed to be doing what I was doing. Even though I could understand their feelings, I also sometimes wondered why anyone would wreck their own eyesight. I suppose I had told everyone on the net that the –11.25D glasses were as high as I was going to go with my induced myopia. Some of the people I was in contact with told me that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself, but I was sure that I could. The older gentleman I had gotten a lot of good advice and support from merely told me that from now on it was my choice as to what I did.
I just had my 20th birthday when I received a small package in the mail. I couldn’t figure out who had sent it, and when I opened it there was a gorgeous pair of glasses inside. They were designer frames, and the lenses looked to be the most expensive hi index lenses available with all of the extra’s that could possibly be added. There was a short unsigned note that read: “These glasses are –12.50D. Can you resist wearing them?”
I just couldn’t resist putting them on. When I slid them slowly up my nose the rush of looking through the more powerful lenses washed through my body. I looked at myself in a mirror. These glasses fitted like a glove, and they looked far nicer than my other ones did. They must have cost a fortune – probably around seven or eight hundred bucks. Oh well, there went my resolve of stopping at –11.25D. But –12.50D wasn’t much stronger after all.
I got so many compliments about these glasses I couldn’t believe it. A few years ago these glasses would have been real coke bottles with this prescription, but now they were more like the nicest fashion accessory a person could have. Naturally I couldn’t resist telling all my internet friends about them, and they thought I was very fortunate to have had someone send them to me. I had a suspicion that it might have been the older guy I mentioned before, but he didn’t answer his mail, so I couldn’t get any confirmation of this.
At the end of February the following year another package arrived just in time for my birthday in March. Inside was another pair of glasses, even nicer than the pair I was wearing. This time the note read: “To wear, or not to wear, that is the question. These are –14.00D. Happy 21st Birthday.”
I feel that I showed a lot of restraint. I didn’t put them on for at least 3 days. I held them, I caressed the lenses, I looked them over very carefully, but I restrained from putting them on my nose. Finally I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. I took my other glasses off and replaced them with the –14D’s. There was a little pressure on my eyes as I struggled to focus through the stronger lenses, but this went away in a matter of minutes, and soon I felt very comfortable with these glasses. Oh well, -14D isn’t really that much different than wearing –12.50D.
Within a few weeks it was like I couldn’t do without the –14D lenses. A couple of times I tried to put on the glasses with the –12.50D lenses, but I couldn’t see as well with them as I could with the –14D glasses. So I reluctantly put the –12.50D glasses away with my collection of other glasses that were now to weak for me to wear.
The following year just prior to my 22nd birthday another package arrived in my mail. I refused to open it. I knew that inside I would find another pair of designer frames with even stronger lenses than I was wearing now. I was very happy with my glasses with the –14D lenses, and I just wasn’t ready to change to an even stronger pair. As I went to my classes during the next week, I began to notice that when I went to read things that the professor wrote on the chalkboard that his writing wasn’t as clear anymore. Did I perhaps require a stronger prescription? Finally, a good 2 weeks after I had my birthday I ripped off the brown paper covering the package, and opened it.
There was nothing else written on the paper except for: –15.00D. Happy Birthday. The glasses inside were absolute perfection. The frames were a very expensive designer pair from a collection by a well-known model, and the lenses again were the finest high index lenses money could buy. I had seen and admired these same frames on models in ads in magazines, and on television during the past few weeks. I slid them onto my face, and my vision immediately adapted to the strength of the lenses. I went to a nearby mirror, and stared at my reflection. I loved the looks of these glasses. I could not take them off.
This scene was repeated every year for the next 6 years. Every year the most fantastic pair of glasses showed up, and I struggled with my resolve not to give in and wear them sometimes for almost a week. But, every year I did give in, and every year my glasses became a diopter stronger. The glasses I received the year I turned 28 were a little different than my previous pairs, in that the lenses seemed to be dished in slightly in the front. But they still looked wonderful on me. And that year, every time I looked at myself in a mirror, I wondered how it was that my eyes could accommodate –21D lenses. I had pushed myself when I was still in my teens to be able to get to –7.75D, because numerous people had told me that once I reached 21 I would no longer be able to accommodate to stronger lenses. Now, at age 28, I was still able to adapt to an additional diopter a year.
The year I turned 29 another package arrived. “Just once more.” I thought to myself as I opened the package. Inside was a surprise – an envelope with a lengthy letter inside. Of course there was also a new pair of glasses. I looked at the glasses first. The appearance of the lenses was a bit strange. I had never seen anything like them before. There appeared to be small circles in the center of the lenses. I suspected from what I had read that these lenses were called myodiscs, and I knew instantly that the older gentleman that I had known years before had been the one sending me all the glasses over the years. I took them from the package, and put them on. I had noticed with my previous pair that when I swung my head from side to side really fast I could make myself a little like feeling seasick. With this pair however, I could only see through the very center of the lenses. I went to a mirror, and looked at my appearance. The lenses were unusual, but I felt that I sort of liked the look. Still wearing the glasses, I opened the letter.
Well, this is the last pair of glasses I am going to send you. Every time I sent you a new pair of glasses, I waited to see if you would wear them, and I was pleased to see that you always started wearing the new ones within a couple of weeks. I know that it was probably a struggle, and I am sure that every year the struggle ended with the decision to do it just once more.
I must apologize for not answering your emails from the past nine years. I know for a few years you were not certain I was the sender, but 3 years ago I think you figured out for sure that I was the one. At least I hope you knew it was me, because I hate to think that you were telling everyone you suspected that they were a no good S.n of a B.t.h. for tempting you so badly. But, before you curse me out any more, remember, you were the one who made the final decision to wear the next pair of glasses.
You were a difficult person to find, but you had given me just enough information to track you down. Actually I was able to track Mr. Rutland down, and once I found the school he taught at, it was not all that hard to go through the school yearbooks for your graduation picture. I was surprised that hardly any girls wore glasses for their graduation pictures, but I was pleased that you had. I don’t think you will have to worry that anyone else could find you, because I was probably the only one you told the teacher’s name to.
I have watched your life with interest, and we have conversed in person a number of times over the years. You might remember a few times when an old gray haired gentleman told you how nice you looked with your glasses. Well, that man was likely me.
I am pleased to see that you are engaged to a very nice man. That is one of the reasons why I am not going to send you any more surprise packages for your birthday. However, if you wear the –22D myodiscs until a few weeks before your wedding, I will be pleased to pay for a new pair for you to be married in. I assume that your husband will be wearing his obviously strong glasses for the wedding as well. You will make a lovely couple, and I am sure that your children will be myopic as well.
I wish you luck, and happiness. Thanks for participating in my experiment my dear.
I took him up on the offer of a new pair of glasses for the wedding. Now all we have to do is wait for the babies to arrive to see if they will be nearsighted as he predicted.
Specs4ever July 2005
This story was written for my friend Emily, and is of course totally fictional