My wife Myrna and I were sitting out on the front porch one afternoon when my next door neighbor Scott came walking up my sidewalk. Scott doesn’t often come to the house unless he wants something, and I suppose this should bother me, but I remember how busy I always was back when I was about 30, so I understand. He discussed the weather with Myrna and me for a few minutes, trying to appear as if he wasn’t trying to force a friendliness that just wasn’t there.
“Scott, I understand that you don’t have much free time. You need something, so ask, and if Myrna or I can help, we will.” I said, without a trace of censure in my voice.
Myrna gave me a sharp look and a poke in the ribs.
“Scott’s busy, Honey. He doesn’t have time to stand around making small talk.” I added.
“Val has to go for an eye examination tomorrow, and we were wondering if you or Myrna could look after the kids?” Scott asked.
“Val is going to have her eyes tested?” I asked incredulously. Shortly after Val and Scott moved into the neighborhood a couple of years ago we all discovered that Val was nearsighted. It was sort of a joke around the neighborhood that Val couldn’t see much past her boobs, which had a pretty substantial projection. Most of us old timers wondered how she could possibly see to drive, because she had to squint to see almost anything more than a few feet away from her, and she couldn’t recognize anyone until they were almost in her face.
“Yes, I finally told her a few weeks ago that she couldn’t drive the kids anymore unless she got glasses. Her eyes have gotten so much worse in the last few weeks that she scares me to death every time she drives anywhere.” Scott replied.
“How about it, Myrna? Have we got anything planned for tomorrow that we can’t put off?” I asked my wife.
“I was going to go over to Shirley’s, but that can wait. I will look after the kids Scott, and Walt can drive Val to her eye exam.” Myrna replied.
“That would be fantastic for both of you to help out this way. But I will warn you, Walt, that Val is pretty much in denial about how poor her eyesight is.” Scott replied.
“Well, she might not know how bad her eyesight is, but the whole neighborhood does. Every time she comes home with the front end of that little car of hers banged up a little more we all joke about Val parking by crash. Has she ever worn glasses?” I asked.
“No, never. When we first got married 8 years ago I noticed that she seemed to have a hard time seeing things at night, but her vision during the day appeared to be fine. And she stayed that way up until a couple of years ago, shortly after we moved here. But then her eyesight started to deteriorate even more, and lately she seems to be unable to see anything unless it is very close to her. She is only 28, and feels that she is too young to have to wear glasses.” Scott replied.
“Well, Myrna got her first glasses back in 68, when she was 21, soon after we married, and moved to town. By age 23 Myrna was wearing the same –18D prescription she is wearing now. So 28 isn’t really too young.” I replied.
“Well, the idea of having to wear glasses really bothers her. So, if you are willing, she needs to leave for downtown by 9:30 tomorrow.” Scott replied.
“Ok, we will see her then.” I said.
The following morning I picked up Val at exactly 9:30. She was ready, and I escorted her to my car.
“Thanks for helping us out Walt.” Val said.
“No problem Val. We were not busy today anyway. What doctor are we going to?” I asked.
“My regular doctor wants me to see Doctor Brady. His office is in the plaza next to the hospital.” Val said.
“Myrna sees Doc. Brady every year for her annual exam. He is booked solid for months, because he is supposed to be the best Ophthalmologist for miles around. Why are you seeing him?” I asked.
“My regular doctor seems to think I have a very serious case of adult onset myopia. My vision has deteriorated very rapidly over the past couple of years. Actually, I have noticed that in the last 3 months that I have gotten so shortsighted I can barely see anything unless I bring it right up to my eyes.’ Val said.
“That won’t be a problem. When Doc Brady gives you your prescription we can go right over to the mall, and get you fixed up with a pair of glasses.” I replied.
Val started to cry. “I don’t want to wear glasses. Scott doesn’t like girls with glasses. He told me so years ago when we were going out together in school. He said he didn’t like girls who wore glasses.”
“Don’t worry Val. I am sure Scott will still love you after you get glasses. I know that he has noticed that you have been having troubles with your eyes, and he will be happy that you will be able to see properly again,” I said reassuringly.
“I hope so.” Val responded as we pulled into the parking lot.
It could have been the tears in her eyes, but I suspect that Val’s vision was so bad that she tripped over the concrete curb, and she also tripped again, as we went up the only step into the doctor’s office. When we went to sign her in she brought her face to within about 6 inches of the sign in book. And when we sat waiting she picked up a magazine and tried to read, but gave up after a few minutes. This lady was no simple –4D or –5D myope. I wouldn’t want to venture a guess, but I knew she had a far more serious case of myopia than that.
“Can’t you see well enough to read Val?” I asked.
“At first I can see the printing, but after I read for a few minutes it gets all blurred. Then I have to bring it so close I can’t focus out of both eyes, and I have to close one eye, and bring the page up really close to the open eye.” Val said.
“How long has it been this bad?” I asked.
“Almost a month now. When I start out first thing in the morning I can sort of see things fairly well, except they are very blurred. As the day goes on things get really blurry, and I can barely find my way around the house.” Val replied.
Just then the assistant came up to Val, and asked her to follow her to the back of the office. Realizing that Val was going to have trouble doing that I got up and took Val by the arm, and guided her back into an office, following the assistant. Val was then seated behind a small machine. She was asked to look into the machine, and as she did a printer started printing out a slip of paper. The assistant looked at the printout.
“Could I have your glasses so that I can compare the prescription with the machine?” Val was asked.
“I don’t wear glasses. I have never had glasses, or contact lenses. That is what I am here for.” Val said.
“You have a –12D prescription and you have never worn glasses?” asked the assistant incredulously.
“Never. I could see just fine until about a year ago.” Val replied.
“Maybe 2 years ago.” I sort of muttered under my breath.
I think the assistant heard me, but didn’t say anything. She took the printout, and left the room, telling us she would be right back.
“Is –12D a strong prescription Walt?” Val asked.
“Yes, it is Val. Myrna has worn glasses forever, and her prescription has been around –18D since she was 23. But don’t worry. With the proper glasses you will be able to see just fine again.” I replied.
When Doctor Brady finally came in to the examining room he spent a lot of time looking into Val’s eyes with a couple of different machines. Finally he seemed satisfied with the results, and he then sat her down in the chair at the phoropter. I knew from Myrna’s past experiences that he would start with the prescription that the auto refractor showed Val needed, and then he would fine-tune the prescription for any astigmatism, or prism, or anything else. This is exactly what he did, and while he was clicking the lenses stronger and stronger in the phoropter, I could feel myself getting sexually aroused.
“I haven’t seen this happen very often Val. Your prescription is mostly in the lenses of your eye. Your eyeball is slightly elongated, but this doesn’t account for any more than about –2D or –3D of your myopia. The rest of your nearsightedness is due to your inner lens, which has for some reason or another decided to grow much thicker than normal.” Doctor Brady said.
“That isn’t really a problem though is it Doctor Brady? That is what is wrong with Myrna’s eyes, and she has no real trouble seeing as long as she wears her strong glasses.” I said.
“No, it isn’t a real problem with proper correction. I also have 4 or 5 young lady patients under the age of 12 who have very high myopia because of stronger inner lenses. It is just not very common to have a 28 year old have their lenses become stronger. But with your new prescription Val you will be able to see very close to 20/20.” Doctor Brady said.
“What is my prescription going to be Doctor?” Val asked.
“I am going to write you a prescription for your right eye for –13.50D x –1.25 x 170, and for your left eye, -13.50D x –1.00D x 195. This is a little stronger than the auto refractor showed us that you needed, but according to your replies when I asked what is better, you seem to be able to see the best with that prescription.” Doctor Brady said in reply.
While we were talking the doctor had made up a trial frame with that prescription in it, and had placed it on Val’s face. Now it was time to leave and Val didn’t want to give it up. But of course she realized that she had to.
“Do you have time to take me to one of those quick glasses places Walt?” Val asked as we walked to the car.
“They can’t do your prescription in any less than 3 or 4 days Val. If you want me to I will take you to the man who makes Myrna’s glasses. I am pretty sure he will have the lens blanks in stock, because they keep an extra set of them for Myrna. And, you can make a weaker prescription out of a blank designed for a stronger prescription, but you can’t do it in reverse.” I told Val.
Val agreed, so we drove over to see my friend Jimmy, at Lakeside Optical. Jimmy had a lens generator that could do practically any prescription, so I was sure he could do Val’s quickly.
‘Hi Jimmy. My neighbor Val here has a pretty strong prescription, and I told her that you could probably fix her up with a pair of glasses quite quickly.” I said.
“Well, if Val’s prescription is lower than Myrna’s I could probably do something with the spare set of lens blanks I keep around for Myrna. But, Myrna’s lens blanks have a +2D bifocal add in them. Does Val need an add?” Jimmy asked.
“Well, Doctor Brady didn’t specify an add on the prescription, but I am sure it wouldn’t hurt. Val really needs a pair of glasses immediately.” I replied.
“What about it Val. Are you willing to have bifocal lenses?” Jimmy asked.
“I don’t care, as long as I can get a pair of glasses fast.” Val replied.
“Let me give Doctor Brady a quick call for his approval. I don’t want to jeopardize my license.” Jimmy said, and he immediately phoned the doctor and got the approval.
Val and I were looking at frames. Val couldn’t hope to see what she looked like so she was completely dependant on my advice. Jimmy returned and with his help we chose a frame that was a little bigger than Myrna usually chose, but was quite attractive on Val.
“I can do these immediately. You do realize that they will be quite thick though.” Jimmy said.
“Will they be thicker than Myrna’s?” Val asked.
“Actually they might be Val. You have a distance between your eyes of 62 mm. Myrna has wider spaced eyes, with a distance of 66. So, even though your prescription is weaker, your outer edge will likely turn out a bit thicker because there is more space from the center of your eye to the outer edge of the frame.” Jimmy replied.
‘Oh Walt, what am I going to do. Scott will hate me.” Val cried.
“Trust me Val, he won’t hate you. Just go ahead and get started making those lenses Jimmy.” I replied.
Jimmy went off to stick the lens blanks in the generator. Val was still extremely upset, and I sat and held her in my arms while she cried. Jimmy’s assistant had waited on some customers while we were sitting there, and Jimmy had looked out from the lab a couple of times.
“I have finished blocking and fining them Walt. We were lucky, and they came out clean, with no scratches or imperfections. All I have to do now is fit them to the frame.” Jimmy said.
A few minutes later Jimmy came out, and motioned me to bring Val to the fitting table.
“Jimmy, that was a lot quicker than an hour. That is wonderful.” I said.
“It was nothing Walt. I just couldn’t let such a pretty lady sit here without her glasses any longer.” Jimmy said with a blush on his face.
Jimmy was right, the lenses were thick, and they stuck out behind the frame by a good 17 mm. Fortunately we had chosen a frame with a hinge that was set well back from the face, and the temples would close. This wouldn’t have been a problem right now, because I knew that as soon as Val put the glasses on her face they would be there forever. But someday she would want a pair of sunglasses, or she would get a new pair of glasses, and would want to place these glasses in a case for spares. Jimmy placed the glasses on Val’s face, and he felt behind the ears to see if they needed an adjustment.
“How do they feel Val?” Jimmy asked.
“They feel fine. And they are wonderful, I can see everything so clearly again.” Val replied ecstatically.
We paid Jimmy, and I drove Val home. She kept lowering the mirror on the passenger side sun visor, and looking at herself through the thick lenses of her new glasses. It had been quite a change. This morning she had never worn glasses, and now she wore extremely strong ones. And, I knew from my experiences with Myrna over the years that she would not want to ever take them off.
“Thanks for everything Walt. I just hope that Scott doesn’t kick me out now. Wish me luck.” Val said as I dropped her at her house.
The following day Myrna and I were again sitting on the porch when we spotted Val walking up the sidewalk. She looked darned good wearing her new glasses, and there was a glow on her face.
“Can I ask Myrna a question in private Walt?” Val asked.
“Well, you can, but do you mind if I first ask you if Scott wanted you to leave your glasses on for him last night?” I asked back.
Val blushed. “How did you know?”
“Just a guess. When Myrna first got glasses she wanted to take them off, but her eyes got a lot worse over the first couple of years of our marriage. When her prescription was similar to yours, I suggested that she just leave her glasses on, and she has ever since. It isn’t nearly as much fun if one partner can’t see a thing.” I replied.
“That is exactly what Scott said. And I needn’t have worried that he wouldn’t love me wearing glasses. He told me I looked beautiful wearing them, and that he didn’t care how thick they were, as long as I could see properly again. Thanks again Walt.” Val said.
I had admired Val as she walked up the sidewalk. She looked so different wearing glasses. The strong lenses, and the narrow pupillary distance she had gave her a lot more cut in with a weaker prescription than Myrna had. But Val’s eyes were set back from the lenses of her glasses a lot more than Myrna’s were. I loved looking at Myrna from the side, because her eyes were so close to the lenses that they seemed to be projected right into the lens. I had often thought that I would like Myrna to have a stronger prescription, but really, I loved her prescription just as it was. It was a perfect prescription, and over the years I had bought Myrna myodisc lenses, biconcave lenses, and now she was wearing hi index plastic bifocal lenses. Myrna seemed to be a natural glasses wearer. Her glasses fit deep into the bridge of her nose as if they belonged there, which after 35 years of continuous wear I guess they did.
Later that afternoon I was out in my little workshop, where I was sanding down a piece of furniture in preparation to refinish it. Actually, that is what Myrna thought. In reality I was sitting down, ready to take a sip from a beer I had just cracked. A knock came on the door, and I called out, “Come on in Scott.”
“You just knew it would be me, didn’t you Walt.” Scott said.
“Sure did. I knew you would be back here for a beer, and a chance to gloat. She looks pretty good, doesn’t she?’ I said.
“Oh man, she looks wonderful. I can’t believe that you got her lenses so thick, and that you got her glasses so fast.” Scott replied.
“Well, thank Jimmy for that. I phoned him with her prescription when I went to the washroom at the doctor’s office, and he had the lenses almost ready when we got there. Of course Val didn’t realize that.” I replied.
“I can’t understand why she has been so stubborn about getting glasses.” Scott said.
“She told me that you told her that you hated girls who wore glasses, even before you got married.” I answered.
“I never did. Oh, wait a minute. I told her once that I hated a girl at our school that had really bright red hair and very thick glasses. I bet all she heard was that I hated glasses on girls. You mean that she has carried this in her mind for 10 years?” Scott asked.
“Sounds like it. I guess what you should have told her was that you loved the thick glasses, but didn’t care for the red hair.” I replied.
“Actually it wasn’t just the red hair. I didn’t like the red hair, but I also didn’t like the girl. She had a shrill, demanding voice, and she was so skinny she looked anorexic. The only thing she had going for her in my eyes was her severe myopia and her extremely thick glasses.” Scott said.
“Well, now you have your own lady with very thick glasses. Are you going to stop now?” I asked.
“No, I think I will do as you originally suggested. I will wait about 6 months, and I will again slip the choral hydrate into her wine, and I will give her eyes the third injection. Do you think your estimate of another –7D is pretty accurate?” Scott asked.
“Well, that is what I was told, and that is exactly what happened with Myrna. She developed –5D with the first injection, then the second one gave her another –6D, and the third one made her what she is now, a –18D myope.” I answered.
“So, unless Val develops a little bit more natural myopia the third injection will make her about –20.50D. That would be perfect.” Scott said.
“I have been tempted a time or 2 to give Myrna another half dose. I was told that the fourth injection would give the person another –8D, and I think that would make Myrna’s prescription a bit too high.” I remarked.
“Well, I want Val to be able to see well enough to drive and do other things without problems, so I will go for the third one and stop. I can’t thank you enough for helping me out Walt.”
“I knew you were the person who would get the best use out of the medication when I saw you staring at Myrna’s glasses every time we saw you Scott. You reminded me of myself, looking intently at Mrs. Hanlon’s glasses every time I saw them anywhere. I am thankful every time I look at Myrna for the fact that Mr. Hanlon saw in me what I saw in you, and gave me the medicine. He used it the fourth time, did I ever tell you that?” I asked.
“You might have mentioned it. How strong did her prescription end up at?” Scott queried.
“She had a prescription of –26D, and she was a vision to look at. Her tiny eyes were hidden deep behind the lenses of her rimless glass myodiscs, and I just melted every time I looked at her.” I replied.
“I just wish I could have met her. She sounds great. But I am just thankful you decided to share the medicine with me. Did I tell you I have done a spectrograph analysis of the medicine?” Scott asked.
“That’s fantastic. Do you know the components?” I asked.
“Well, there is some curare, and some other common medications. I am still working on fine-tuning it. I don’t know for sure, but there is probably only enough left of the original to make one more lady very nearsighted, and I would feel better if I could pass enough on to other’s to make a real difference.” Scott replied.
“That would be wonderful if you could do that Scott. I am sure Mr. Hanlon would be proud of us.” I replied.
Mr. Hanlon was a retired pharmacist who had lived in an old turn of the century house at the corner of our block when Myrna and I were first married, and moved into our new home. As I had previously told Scott, he noticed me staring at his wife’s glasses every chance I could. One day he walked over and invited me back to his house. Mrs. Hanlon was upstairs having a nap, and Mr. Hanlon took me into his first floor office. He indicated that he had observed me looking at his wife’s glasses, and he asked me if I would like to have my wife wear glasses that had a strong prescription. I didn’t know what to answer, but I finally told him the truth; that I would love to have my wife wear very strong glasses.
Mr. Hanlon then told me a story. When he and Mrs. Hanlon were first married, he came to the town to work for the pharmacist as an apprentice. Mr. Hanlon and his wife lived on the same street as the older pharmacist, who had a very myopic wife. Mr. Hanlon could not stop himself from staring at his employer’s wife’s glasses. They were far stronger than any pair of glasses he had ever seen before in his life. The more he stared at this lady and her glasses, the more he realized that he would love it if his own wife required the same strong glasses. When Mr. Hanlon would make love to his wife, he would imagine her wearing the strong glasses that his boss’s wife wore. Soon, Mr. Hanlon could not make love to his wife unless he imagined her wearing strong glasses.
Mr. Hanlon was asked one day, much as he asked me, if he would choose to have his wife wear similar strong glasses. And, like I said when he asked me, he told the gentleman that he would love to have this happen. The older gentleman gave Mr. Hanlon a vial containing a brown liquid, and a small hypodermic needle with a very fine tip. He was instructed to render his wife unconscious with laudanum, and then slowly inject a full barrel of fluid into each eye, going in through the white, preferably in the outer corner. According to the older pharmacist, the first injection would cause the inner lens to thicken, and would create about –5D of myopia. If more myopia was desired, a second injection would create another –6D, and a third one would create –7D. And, should a fourth injection be desired, it would likely create about –8D more myopia. No one had ever tried a fifth injection.
Within 2 years of that day Mrs. Hanlon was wearing her present –26D prescription. She was 24 years old when Mr. Hanlon started injecting her eyes with the medication, and he had increased her prescription every 6 months. By this time Mrs. Hanlon was almost 60. She had given birth to, and raised 3 healthy children. Her eyesight had not changed a bit in the interval, and she still was able to read comfortably with her distance glasses.
When Mr. Hanlon told me this story I was quite skeptical. He gave me some chloral hydrate instead of the laudanum, and instructed me to place it in a glass of alcohol. Myrna liked a glass of wine in the evening, so I tried it. And it worked perfectly for me, although I stopped after 3 doses. It was funny, but when I told Scott the story, I mentioned to him that I had been imagining Myrna wearing Mrs. Hanlon’s glasses when we were making love prior to the first injection. Scott then told me that he then began imagining Val wearing Myrna’s glasses when they were making love.
Six months later Val had to go for her second eye exam. This time her new prescription was around –17D. I knew that Scott was planning to go for the 4th injection, but I had suggested that he should just give Val around a half dose each time, because the full dose could give her around –28 or 29D of myopia, and that might be a little too much. So, Scott listened to me, and a year after Val had first started wearing glasses she went for another eye exam. After the exam her new prescription was OD –21.50D x –1.25 x 170 and OS – 21.50D x –1.00 x 195. Doctor Brady had also continued the +2D add for reading. Scott hadn’t wanted Val to ever consider contact lenses, so I had convinced Jimmy to put 3 degrees of base out prism in her first pair of glasses, which had been continued for her second pair. Now, in this pair Val actually was prescribed 5 degrees of base out prism, and Scott was extremely pleased that Val would never be able to wear contacts.
I was not happy when I noticed that Val and Scotts 6 year old daughter Jenny was also sporting a pair of glasses. It is hard to tell, but I was sure that her prescription appeared to be around –5D, and the front of her lenses was flat. I cornered Scott, and I told him in no uncertain terms that he had better not give Jenny the second injection.
“Walt, calm down man. I never even gave Jenny the first injection. I couldn’t do that to my daughter. Jenny had been having trouble seeing things in the distance, so we had Doctor Brady examine her eyes. Her first prescription is a fairly strong one. It is –4D, but it is completely natural. And, because of her moms severe myopia Doctor Brady wrote plano base on her prescription, since he feels she will end up as a fairly high myope down the road.” Scott said.
“Sorry Scott. I was convinced you had done it. I should have known better.” I answered apologetically.