When I received the e-mail, and read the message, my mind took me back to that day several years ago. No, not the day that I wrote the words that the e-mail referred to, but to that actual day that I was standing in a mall in a large Midwestern city, and I spotted a very blonde-haired young lady, probably about 5 years old, wearing a sky blue dress, and holding tightly to her mother's hand, as they looked at the fish in the large aquarium tank. The primary purpose in my being in the mall was to see if I could spot any ladies wearing high minus glasses while I had some time to kill waiting for my company to instruct me where I was to go for my next assignment. And, while I hadn't spotted any women wearing high minus glasses, the pair of plastic framed spectacles that perched on the nose of the beautiful little girl in the blue dress definitely qualified as high minus. I wasn't as practiced then as I am now, but I remember noting that the child's glasses were quite thick, and estimated the prescription to be close to –20, and that if she were a bit older, and a bigger girl, I thought that it was very likely that the glasses would turn out to be myodiscs. I remember following the mother and daughter, staying a respectable distance behind them so that I wasn't perceived as a threat, and I remember wondering how I was going to strike up a conversation with the mother. They wandered past some of the stores, and headed for a fast food restaurant, where they went in, and stood in line. I tried to follow behind them, but a rather large lady got between us, and all I could do was to wait until it was my turn to order. I got my meal, and sat as close as I dared, staring at the little girl, speculating what she would look like when she grew older, and realizing that she would be a very lovely young lady. Before I could get my courage up to speak to them, my pager beeped, and I quickly finished my meal, and went to find a phone.
I received my next assignment, but couldn't stop myself from wandering back to the restaurant to see if I could take a last look at the child. But they were gone, and I couldn't spend any more time trying to find them, as my job is time sensitive, and I was now in a hurry. This young lady has stayed in my mind over the years, and one time when I was posting on the internet, I mentioned that of the many high minus women that I had spotted in the past, this young lady continued to remain in the forefront of my memory. Recently, I received the following e-mail that was of great interest to me, and has left me with a lot to think about. With the young lady's permission, I want to share this true story with you, my reader's.
I am not sure if you will receive this note or not, but after reading some of your many postings on various vision related sites on the internet, I felt that it would be a good idea for someone that is truly a high myope to tell you of some of the many problems that we have. And, since it is most probable that I was the little girl in the blue dress that you spoke of in a posting that you made a few months ago, I felt that I should send you this note. I was, as you might guess, born very highly myopic. When you saw me with my mother, I was wearing glasses in the –15 or –16D range. Since that time, I have had numerous increases in the strength of my prescription, and I am now in the –30D range, when my fairly high astigmatism is taken into account. I have worn myodisc lenses in my glasses since I was 13 years old, and now, even with the best possible correction I have a visual acuity of about 20/100.
I was not particularly concerned about my poor vision as a child. I do remember always having to sit at the very front of the classroom in school and often straining to see what the teacher was putting on the board. I remember being cautioned by my doctor and parents against any form of rough physical activity, as my risk of retinal detachment is very high. I was placed into a high myopia study group at a local hospital, as my mom is highly myopic herself, with a prescription in the mid teens, and her younger sister and my grandmother are both severely myopic. My aunt has a little bit stronger prescription than mine, and my grandmother is in the –40 range. I have 2 cousins that are both as myopic as I am, and my younger sister is rapidly approaching my prescription. So, as I grew up, I saw nothing abnormal about strong glasses, although I was the only extremely high myope in my school. I do know that my parents had wanted to have 3 or 4 children, but they decided to stop with 2 when it was discovered that my sister had inherited the family curse of severe myopia.
When I was 13, and began to wear myodiscs, my doctor, with my mother's approval, attempted to fit me with contact lenses. Unfortunately I was unable to tolerate them, and as a result, I have worn very strong and thick glasses all my life. I am unsure as to the effect this has had on my personality, but I do know that until I went to the university a month ago I had not been made to feel very handicapped. And, when I was at my home, with people that had known me wearing thick glasses all my life, I was treated as a normal girl. I did grow into a rather pretty young lady, as you surmised I might, and I was never without a date for any of our high school functions, even though I had to wear unusual-looking glasses with thick myodisc lenses.
However, since I have left home and enrolled at the university, I have found that it is a different world out there. I have to have about 10 different pairs of glasses that I wear for varying reasons, but the unfortunate part of it is that my corrected vision is still no better than 20/100 or less. People look at my glasses, and are astonished that even with glasses this strong I still can't see very well. And of course, my poor eyesight has restricted me in the kinds of things I might choose for a career. I cannot see well enough to drive. I am unable to be a stewardess, any form of law enforcement is out, and a job in the retail world would be an impossibility as I would be unable to read the price tags without holding them right up against my glasses to see, and then I would have great difficulty seeing the cash register, and even the customer would be pretty blurred. I was discussing my various career options with a close family friend one day, and I mentioned that I would like to be a medical doctor. His response was that he thought it was impossible, because if I was ever involved in a malpractice suit, all a jury would have to do was to look at my thick glasses, and I would most likely loose the case as the jury would think that whatever happened was because I could not see well enough. So, I have chosen to major in history, and will likely become a teacher, as I would still be able to continue this occupation even if I should eventually loose all of my vision and go blind. Also, should I want to, I would also be able to go into the field of law.
Since I have moved to a new room, here at the university, I have had to arrange things so that I am very familiar with my surroundings. To give you some idea of my relatively low range of vision, I wear a watch that is a little bigger than the size of a quarter. If I remove my glasses, and bring my watch to the tip of my nose, I can just barely see my watch with one eye. If I move my hand only an inch or so away from my nose, the numbers on the watch become blurred, and I can no longer read the time. So, I can literally see no further than the tip of my nose without glasses. My form of severe myopia has left me with very little accommodation in my eyes. So, to read, I must have one pair of glasses. To see the computer that I am writing this on, I need another pair, with a different prescription. To see to my best corrected distance vision I need another pair. When I am around people, if they are close to me they are pretty blurred when I am wearing my distance glasses. Bifocals in biconcave myodiscs are not an option, but I have, with the help of my ophthalmologist, been prescribed glasses that have a distance prescription for one eye, and a reading prescription for the other eye. These seem to work the best for me. I have plastic myodisc lenses in one pair like this, but I also have a pair of glass-lensed myodiscs in the same configuration, as my vision seems a little better with glass lenses. I like to swim as a form of exercise and relaxation, so I have a pair of prescription swimming glasses. The sun bothers my eyes, so I also have a pair of sunglasses as well. Since my eyesight is so very poor, for me to go to a movie, or a football game, I have to wear telescopic glasses to see well in the distance. These are like little binoculars, and like binoculars the field of vision is relatively narrow, so usually I will wear my distance glasses most of the time, and will switch to the telescopic glasses if I want to see more detail. When I was at home I knew the various bus routes, so I really had no problem, but since I came to university, I have had to get a small telescope that I can use to see street signs, and the bus numbers, as the telescopic glasses are too much bother to put on to see such detail. So, should someone meet me on campus, they would find that my backpack, along with the requisite books, would contain at least 5 pairs of glasses. Even with my glasses my night vision is extremely poor and I am nearly blind. When I go out at night, I almost always go with people that I know and I have to hold on to their arm, as I just don't see very well.
When I do go to bed at night I remove my glasses, and place them in a case that I have fastened to the wooden headboard of the bed. Once when I was about 14 I stayed over at a friend's house, and I had to place my glasses on a night table next to the bed. During the night they somehow were knocked to the floor, and when I awoke in the morning I was unable to find them. My girlfriend had gotten up before me, and I began to panic when I couldn't find them, and I was forced to call for her to come back up stairs and find my glasses for me. Since that time, I have never let this happen, as it is no fun to be in a strange place and not be able to see. I have, on occasion, fallen asleep while reading, and still wearing my glasses, but I don't like to do this, as usually my glasses end up bent out of shape, and because of the narrow field of vision for the myodisc lenses, I don't always see very well through them after the frames are bent.
So, in conclusion, I hope that this will make you come to realize that high myopia is a very serious problem, and not much fun. I, however, don't want you to think that I feel sorry for myself. Some time ago, I came to a point that I accepted my severe myopia, and I try to cope the best I can with it. I have read some of your tales about wearing high plus contact lenses in order to go around wearing high minus glasses to simulate high myopia. You seem to get a big kick out of pretending to the world that you really have to wear thick glasses and are very nearsighted. I will not comment on this any more than to say that it seems to me to be a bit strange. But, I must say, your simulation is very different than my real myopia. When you remove your glasses, and take out your contact lenses, you have good vision. With my glasses, I have very poor vision, and without my glasses I have no vision whatsoever.