I sat in the waiting room while my 7-year-old daughter was undergoing her eye exam. She had been complaining of blurred vision over the past few weeks, and because I am pretty myopic myself I decided that a visit to my optometrist would be in order. It wasn’t long before Doctor Carter and Elaine came out. Elaine was clutching a piece of paper in her hand.
“Elaine appears to be fairly nearsighted Joy.” Dr Carter said to me.
“I guess that doesn’t surprise me Doctor. What is her prescription?” I asked.
“She is –2.00D in both eyes. But she is very insistent that she wants to get contact lenses.” Dr. Carter said to me.
“Is she not too young for contacts?” I queried.
“No, she probably can handle them. It’s just that I would like to see her wear glasses for a while.” Dr. Carter said, as she droned on about kids who wore contact lenses.
She left Elaine and me together, and the argument started. Finally I gave in. I had not worn glasses myself since I was 13 years old. I didn’t even own a pair of glasses, and I had no intention of purchasing a pair. So, I really couldn’t fight too hard. The receptionist, who was also the optician and contact lens fitter, fitted Elaine with a pair of contact lenses, and we also purchased a 6-month supply of lenses.
The following day was Saturday, and Charlotte and I had a pretty full day planned. Elaine was the end result of a date rape when I was 19 and was at university. I was pressured to give her up for adoption, but I just couldn’t do that, so I had raised Elaine on my own. I really have not had a sexual relationship with a man since that time, although I have dated quite a few men. I don’t consider myself a lesbian, although I am involved in a bit of a relationship with another woman. And the other woman, Charlotte doesn’t really consider herself a lesbian either. We would prefer to consider ourselves as very close friends who just enjoy being with each other. Charlotte is my boss. I am a legal researcher, and I do all of the backup searches of legal precedence’s for Charlotte, who is a very high priced attorney in the law firm we both work for. We both have our own apartments, and for the most part are really good friends. But every once in a while we find it necessary to indulge in a little hugging, holding and petting. Tomorrow was to be one of our special days, and I was looking forward to it. We planned on going for a drive in the country, doing some antique shopping, and having a meal at a country inn we had found a few months ago. As always I was going to be the driver, since Charlotte had very poor eyesight, and was forced to rely on other people to be her eyes. Even in court sometimes I had to tell her what the facial expressions on the juror’s faces appeared to be if a case was in doubt. So, Elaine and I went to bed early to be well rested for our day in the country.
Saturday was a wonderful day. Elaine loved the fact that she could see everything clearly again, and delighted in describing everything she saw to Charlotte, who’s poor eyesight wasn’t really corrected completely by the thick, strong myodiscs she wore.
About 6 months went past, and Elaine had to get new, stronger contact lenses. Over the next couple of years it seemed that every time her 6-month supply of disposable lenses ran out she needed a stronger prescription. I didn’t really worry about this too much, because I had gone through something similar when I was growing up. My own contact lenses were –12.00D and I felt I had a pretty strong prescription.
The years flew by, and in no time at all Elaine was coming up on her 17th birthday. I had told her that if she got her drivers license I would buy her a car, and she was really looking forward to this. But one afternoon when I got home from the law office I found Elaine sitting at the kitchen table crying.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” I asked.
“I couldn’t pass the eye test for my driver’s license mom.” Elaine sobbed.
“Well, we will just go and see Lydia Carter tomorrow, and she will get you stronger contact lenses.” I replied.
That seemed to brighten Elaine up, and the crying stopped. The following afternoon I made 2 appointments with Lydia. I seemed to be noticing an increased amount of blur myself, and it had been ages since I had required an increase, so maybe I was due. I went in first, and I came out with a new prescription of –13D for my contact lenses. Then Elaine went in. When she came out with Lydia, she was crying again.
“What’s wrong Lydia?” I asked.
“Elaine can’t be corrected well enough to pass her vision exam for her license with contact lenses. Her prescription is just too strong. And, I find that now the need for the prism that I told her about on her last visit has doubled in power and is really going to be necessary. But prism isn’t available in contact lenses, so she will now have to wear glasses. So, I might as well also correct her properly for the –2D of astigmatism cylinder she requires. If she has the proper glasses correction she might just be able to pass the eye exam for her driver’s license” Lydia said.
“Well, if Elaine has to wear glasses I might as well get a pair also.” I replied.
So, Elaine and I selected new frames. I thought Elaine’s frames looked darling on her, so I selected a similar style. Of course neither of our glasses were going to be ready in less than a week, so we waited anxiously for the call. Finally it came, and we went over to pick our new glasses up together. Lydia’s girl brought out 2 trays, and she took out a pair of glasses. I knew that Elaine had a very strong prescription, because Lydia had said so, but I wasn’t prepared for the thickness of her lenses.
“Oh my goodness, they are pretty thick. Didn’t we get hi index to make them thinner?” I asked.
“Well these are much thinner than your lenses would have been in regular plastic,” she said.
It took a minute for it to sink in. My lenses? Had she said my lenses? Yes, she was holding the glasses out to me. I put them on over my contact lenses, and the blur was absolutely amazing. She insisted that I remove my lenses, and put on the glasses so that I could walk around the office and see if the glasses felt all right. So I did just that. But of course I had to glance over at Elaine’s tray, and there in her tray were a pair of myodiscs that looked very similar to Charlotte’s myodiscs. How had my daughter’s eyes managed to get this bad? How had my own eyes come to depend on such thick strong looking glasses?
Elaine removed her contacts and put her glasses on as well. My heart sank. My little girl was practically blind, if my experience with Charlotte was any indication of how bad your eyes had to be to need these myodiscs. Lydia had mentioned that she wanted to check Elaine’s corrected vision with her new glasses on, and the optician went off to see if Lydia could fit Elaine in. She came back and told us that Lydia would be free in a minute, and she guided us back to the examining room, where she sat Elaine in the chair.
Lydia came waltzing in. “Well, your glasses look quite nice on both of you. Now Elaine, let’s see what you can see with yours.” She proceeded to test Elaine’s vision, and I was surprised when Lydia remarked that Elaine was testing at 20/30, and she could get her beginner’s permit. Then Lydia tested my vision with my glasses on, and pronounced that I had very close to 20/20.
“Why have Elaine’s eyes gotten so bad?” I asked Lydia.
“I suspect that Elaine and you have both had a lot of myopic progression because you have been wearing contact lenses all of the time.” Lydia replied.
“I thought contact lenses corrected our bad eyesight. Why is it bad to wear them all the time?” I asked.
“Well, wearing glasses, or contact lenses with your full prescription does correct your eyesight at a distance of 20 feet. However, your eyesight isn’t always used at 20 feet. If you look at something that is 10 feet away your glasses have actually doubled their strength. And at 5 feet this effectively has quadrupled their power. If you wear glasses to read, which of course both of you have to, reading up close increases the effective power of your glasses astronomically, and your eyes have to accommodate to the strength of your glasses correction. So, your eyes gradually do adjust to the strength, and then you have trouble seeing at a distance, and we have to increase the power of your glasses or contacts. Some people are more susceptible to this progression, and I suspect that both you and Elaine fall into this category.” Lydia told us.
“Why didn’t you tell us this when Elaine got contacts?” I asked.
“I tried, but like most people you didn’t hear what I was trying to say. You are not alone with this problem. Most high myopes have indirectly caused a lot of their myopic creep.” Lydia replied.
Elaine and I left the office wearing our glasses. We were both silent. Lydia was right. She had tried to advise us to have Elaine wear glasses, and I now remembered that she had often told me that I should wear reading glasses over my contact lenses when I was doing a lot of researching. We ate out, and that night lights out came early. I placed my new glasses on my bedside table, pleased that I could now find my way around my bedroom.
When I woke up I searched for my glasses. They were nowhere to be found. I went to the bathroom, and put my contact lenses in. I looked for my glasses again, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. So, I dressed, and went downstairs. There, sitting at the kitchen table was a 7-year-old girl, eating breakfast, and reading a book. The book was very close to her eyes. I looked at the calendar on the kitchen wall. It read March 2007. Then I knew I had just had a very bad dream.
“Honey, did you put your contact lenses in already this morning?” I asked Elaine.
“Yes, I did mom. They are just great. I can see everything so clearly.” Elaine replied.
“Well, I have been thinking it over. I am going to get a pair of glasses for myself, and you are going to get glasses as well. You can wear your contact lenses for special occasions, but for school, and for kicking around home, you will wear glasses. And, you will take your glasses off when you are reading.” I replied.
I expected a bit of whining. But since I had told her that I was also going to get, and wear glasses also, she finally gave in. Of course I also asked her if she wanted to end up eventually wearing glasses like Charlotte’s by the time she was 17, and naturally she recoiled with horror at the thought, so I had to explain the possibilities, and the probabilities of myopic progression.
Since the Saturday I had experienced was in my dream, I realized that we had to pick up Charlotte shortly to go for our antique shopping trip in the country. We picked her up, and Charlotte sat in the front seat with me. Elaine was thrilled to be able to see properly again, and she described a lot of things to Charlotte.
“How strong are your glasses Charlotte?” I asked.
“Hang on Joy, I have my prescription with me.” Charlotte replied, as she dug a piece of paper out of her purse, and handed it to Elaine. “ Read this for me would you sweetie?”
“ OD –28.50 x –2.00 x 178 x 5 deg. B.O. and OS –27.75 x –2.50 x 10 x 5 deg. B.O. with +3 add.” Elaine read.
‘That is pretty strong isn’t it Charlotte? Has it always been this strong?” I asked.
“My eyes seemed to get worse and worse when I was studying law at university. I had worn contact lenses since I was 12, but I finally had to give them up by the time I was 23, because I had too much astigmatism, and I developed prism, which contacts can’t correct. But now, even with my glasses my eyes are terrible. My specialist tells me that I probably increased my myopia considerably by wearing contact lenses all the time I was studying at university. You just got contacts yesterday didn’t you Elaine?” Charlotte said.
“Yes, but mom says I have to get glasses, and I can’t wear my contacts to school. She also says I can’t wear my glasses or my contacts when I am reading. But she promised she is going to wear glasses too.” Elaine said.
I had never talked to Charlotte about her eyes before. I wondered where the thoughts in my dream had come from, and why my dream told me about Elaine having strong astigmatism, and prism. But, I was thankful to someone for opening my eyes to the possibility of ruining my daughter’s vision by allowing her to wear contact lenses.
Over the next few years Charlotte had retinal detachments, and ended up with very limited vision through glasses that looked like little binoculars. She learned braille, and I was forced to learn it as well. My contact lens prescription remained at –12D, probably because I wore glasses a lot of the time. My glasses now were trifocal’s, and I found it much easier to read with them. Elaine just had her real 17th birthday, and while her glasses were now –10D I knew that she had not increased as much as she would have if I had not had that dream. Elaine had no problem passing the eye exam for her driver’s license, and I was pleased that she had chosen to wear progressive lenses almost from the time she got the first prescription that she had to wear full time. Somehow we had both been given a second chance.
Specs4ever April 2007