Over the years the life of an over the road trucker had been tough, both on me, and my family. My kids had grown up without me, and although we were on friendly terms, there really wasn’t any closeness between us. When my wife decided that she had enough of being married to a husband who was more like a ghost, I made the decision to come off the highway, and attempt to put our marriage back together again. The only problem with that was that we had drifted so far apart our goals in life were no longer the same. And, if the truth be known, they probably hadn’t been for some time. As a result, we decided that we would be better off each going our separate ways. This didn’t do anything to redeem me in the eyes of our children, and while they were still friendly enough towards me I knew I was going to have a lonely existence, especially if I stayed around town. So as far as I was concerned, a move to a warmer climate was in my best interests. I signed everything over to my wife, and she let me keep a reasonable amount of the money that we had in a bank account, so I had enough to get by on when I left.
There wasn’t enough money to allow me to retire though. I had been working for a maintenance company, doing minor repairs around a couple of apartment complexes that they owned, and I found that I enjoyed the work. They actually were sorry to see me leave, and they tried to get me to stay by offering me a free apartment, but I wanted out of the Midwestern winters, so I headed for California. Once I arrived I discovered that finding a job like I wanted wasn’t as easy as I had hoped it would be. However I did find a job at an assisted living complex. The pay was low, and the hours were sporadic, because I had to be on call 24 hours a day. But the place came with a free room, and my meals were free as well, as long as I ate in the main dining room, just after the residents had finished their meal.
I had been here for a little over a year, and most of the residents were quite friendly and often a little too chatty. Whenever a resident left – usually for that home in the sky, but occasionally for a nursing home, I went in and painted, and cleaned the unit. Then when the new resident moved in I went by and hung any pictures that they wanted up. Most of the units had been designed as handicap accessible, so there wasn’t much to do as far as installing grab bars, but I sometimes had to change the height of some of them, particularly if the new tenant was a lot shorter, or a lot taller than average. I enjoyed it a lot, and I had gotten a decent increase in my salary after my first year was up. I guess I was pretty much in a holding pattern, but I was content. My wife had served me with divorce papers, and I had signed them, and sent them back, and shortly I was going to be single again. But, in an old age home there wasn’t much of a chance to meet anyone close to my age. Also, I had decided that I was not going to settle for just any lady. When I was ready I was going to search for that special one.
You might ask me what I considered as special. At one time in my life I wouldn’t have a problem answering that. I liked the thinner taller ladies, but I didn’t care if they had big breasts. I liked girls with nice legs and with a tight butt. I liked girls with long hair, and at one time I didn’t care for girls with red hair, or those who wore glasses. Then, as I grew older I discovered that ladies who wore glasses began to have a special attraction for me. At first, anyone who wore glasses caught my eye, but I gradually began to refine my parameters. I discovered that strong plus lenses magnified and distorted a girls eyes too much to suit me. Weak plus lenses looked good, as did weak minus lenses. But the more I looked I discovered that the most special ladies were the ones who wore strong minus lenses. It wasn’t long before the words “coke bottle lenses” meant something special to me. And if I overheard a person say something like, “look at that lady over there with those jam jar lenses,” I would immediately try to find the lady that they were looking at. Myodiscs, biconcave, Superlenti, and double digit prescriptions were terms that I became very familiar with. So, after my wife and I split, I spent as much time looking for a lady with a very strong minus prescription as I could.
When I reported for work on a Monday morning I was instructed to go to room 205 after breakfast and do the normal move in chores for Martha, the new resident. I had my breakfast and headed for Martha’s room to hang her pictures, and do any other chores that she needed done. In an assisted care facility most of the residents wear glasses, and of course when I walk up behind one I always glance sideways through the lenses. But I would venture a guess that over 90% of these residents have a plus prescription. Not many have the thick cataract lenses anymore, because technology has given us lens implants. But even the residents that have had lens implants often require a little more plus, or some other requirement for optical correction. I had discovered that the odds of me finding a resident with a strong minus prescription were low, maybe 1 in 1,000. When Martha came to answer her door I am sure that my jaw dropped to the floor. She wore superlenti lenses, and I knew instantly that I had found one of my special people.
Superlenti lenses were developed in the late 70’s or early 80’s. At first they were used as an optional lens for people with strong prescriptions that didn’t like the appearance of myodiscs. At this time they were used for prescriptions of around -12D or greater, although they actually were available from -6D and up. The old CR39 plastic lenses started to get quite thick, and were often done as biconcave over -12D, so myodiscs were reluctantly the lens of choice over -12D. But superlenti lenses bended the myodisc portion into the carrier, and the sunny side up egg appearance of a normal myodisc wasn’t quite as obvious except to a trained observer like me. And, in the last few years, with the advent of high index lenses, a prescription of up to about -20D could be done in a normal lens that looked quite nice. So, for Martha to be wearing superlenti lenses I knew her prescription was well into the mid -20D’s.
I did my chores, hanging pictures where she wanted them, putting up a new window shade, hooking up her television set to the cable, and setting up her computer. While I was doing this I swear she was teasing me. She changed out of her superlenti glasses, and had on an older pair of what appeared to be thicker plastic myodiscs. These glasses were about ¾” thick, and as I looked closer at them I could see that they were double myodiscs, with a deep bowl in the front, and of course a deeper bowl in the rear. They still only had a bowl size of about 25 mm, and after seeing this I upgraded my earlier prescription estimate to closer to -30D. And as I was hanging the pictures for her I noticed that most of the girls in the pictures seemed to also wear strong glasses.
As I was finishing, Martha put on a pot of coffee, changing her glasses once again to a pair of what appeared to be hi index myodiscs that were not blended, but were plano front, and had about a 20 mm bowl. She invited me to have a cup with her, and I accepted, wanting only to stay longer and gaze at her minified eyes through the strong lenses she wore. As we sat at the table in her tiny kitchenette she surprised me.
“You are one of them aren’t you?” Martha said.
“One of what?” I asked.
“One of those people who are fascinated with my glasses. Oh, don’t deny it. My husband was one like you, and in my 88 years, I have seen a number of people like yourself who couldn’t keep their eyes off my glasses. I was testing you when I kept changing my glasses, and your reaction was predictable.” Martha answered.
“I am not ashamed to admit that you are right. I discovered about 25 years ago that glasses on a lady held a special attraction for me. Then I decided that so few ladies wore exceptionally strong glasses that these ladies were the ones that interested me the most.” I replied.
“Well, come back and visit me as often as you please young man and maybe I will tell you a story that will interest and intrigue you.” Martha replied as I took my leave.
I was certain that I was going to get to know Martha better during her stay at the residence. I had to take my meals with the staff, just after the residents had finished.
Martha often remained behind, and sat to talk with me after she had finished her meal. There was no rule against socializing with the residents, especially if the resident appeared to instigate the friendship. So we were able to chat as much as we wished. And, in the evening, after my chores were finished I would often join Martha in the residents lounge on her floor. During our chats an amazing story indeed developed.
From what Martha told me, she had wanted to wear glasses from an early age. She could not tell me a logical reason, only that she had this desire. Back in the 1920’s very few children her age wore glasses. Martha told me that she discovered that she could make her eyes go blurry whenever she wanted, and when she had her eyes examined before beginning school she pretended that she could not even properly read the largest letter on the eye chart. At the time vision exams were not as comprehensive as they are today, and the exam consisted of the doctor placing lenses into a machine that was in front of her eyes until she could read the letters on the chart. Martha was determined to be quite nearsighted, and got her first pair of glasses at age 5, which she wore every waking moment. By the time Martha was 10, she had her eyes tested this way at least once a year, and each time she had come away with stronger glasses. I surmised that this was just natural progression; however Martha assured me that every time before her exam she had still been able to see perfectly with her existing glasses, but had forced her eyes to see through the stronger lenses that the doctor placed in the machine.
As proof of this Martha told me that when she was 11 her old doctor had retired, and the new doctor was a recent graduate from optometry school. She was unable to fool the new doctor, and he didn’t want to give her stronger lenses. He had quite a talk with Martha, telling her that she had an unusual ability to accommodate to stronger and stronger lenses. If she continued this, she would eventually end up having to wear extremely strong glasses. Martha told him that this was what she wanted, and to her surprise he ended up giving her a new, stronger prescription, although he did warn her that her eyes would adjust to, and require this prescription so she could never go back to the weaker one. Martha told me that she had been afraid he would tell her parents what she had been doing, but he didn’t.
By the time Martha was 17 her prescription had gotten quite strong, and her glasses had had myodisc lenses since she had been 15. On her next visit to the doctor, she was quite amazed and shocked when the doctor, who was now about 30, asked her if he could call on her. She accepted his invitation, and by the time she was 18, they were married. Judith, their first child was born just prior to Martha’s 19th birthday, followed by Eric a year later, and her youngest daughter Susan followed Eric 2 years later. All three of her children were born a couple of weeks prematurely, because for some reason Martha couldn’t carry a baby to full term.
Martha’s husband John wore glasses himself, and when he had first become Martha’s eye doctor, Martha noticed that over the years John’s glasses had gotten much stronger, but in the 11 years that Martha had known John his eyes had only reached a prescription of about –10D. After they had been married for a while, John had confided in Martha, and told her that he was fascinated with myopia, and had actually increased his own prescription from around -3D up to -10D, which appeared to be the strongest prescription that he could wear, because by this time John was 33, and his accommodation would no longer allow him to increase the strength of his lenses any more. By the time Martha was 32 she had reached the upper level of her own myopic progression, and I was pleased to discover that my guess of her prescription was pretty close. Martha actually had a prescription of -29D for her right eye and -28D for her left eye.
When Judith was a year old John discovered that she was quite nearsighted, and Judy began wearing glasses with a -10D prescription. Then 3 years later, when Susan was also a year old she was discovered to require a first prescription of –10D as well. Eric did not need glasses when he was a baby, but he was found to be slightly nearsighted when he started first grade. Judy and Susan both experienced significant increases in their prescriptions as they grew older, and by the time they finished high school, both girls had prescriptions in the low –20D’s. Eric also had a number of increases, but his prescription stopped increasing when he required –10D, the same as the prescription that John had managed to reach. Both Judy and Susan had ended their myopic progression with a similar prescription to Martha’s when they were in their mid 30’s.
Judy had met a really nice boy, and Martha told me that she was actually thrilled that Mathew wanted to marry Judy. Martha had observed Matt enough to see that he was another person who was enamored with high myopia, and Judy, now aged 17 with a -22D prescription, certainly fit the bill. Judy had no desire to go any further in school, so by the time she was 18, Judy and Matt had married. The year was 1957, and Judy and Matt wasted no time starting a family. Their oldest daughter Beth was born in 1958 and their second daughter Carol was born the following year. By the time both girls had reached their first birthday, John had done the usual eye examinations, and each of his granddaughters were wearing -10D glasses, the same prescription as John’s own daughters had required at that age.
Once Martha had reached this point in her story I noticed that her tale seemed to swing towards favoring Carol. She told me in great detail about Carol growing up, and her myopic progression. It seemed that Carol had larger increases than the previous female members of her family had. By the time Carol was 18 in 1977; her prescription was slightly stronger than Martha’s prescription. Every other family member had easily been able to pass the vision exam for their driver’s license, but Carol barely met the 20/40 minimum requirement. Carol wanted very badly to wear contact lenses, but there wasn’t a contact lens available at this time that would give her the full correction that she required. John felt sorry for his granddaughter, so he did prescribe her contact lenses, but she still had to wear glasses over the strongest contacts available at the time.
When Carol met her husband Jeff, Jeff knew that Carol was extremely myopic. He seemed to accept that Carol had to wear fairly strong glasses over very powerful contact lenses. Martha did tell that she didn’t have a good feeling about Jeff. He didn’t seem to be a lover of myopia, and Martha felt that this would cause Carol problems later in life. Carol and Jeff had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. Neither of the boys wore glasses from an early age, but the daughter Melissa was found by John to be as nearsighted as the other female members of the family had been, so Melissa also wore -10D glasses from the age of 1.
With the combination of glasses over contacts, Carol was able to lead a life that appeared to be normal. And, as the years passed, new contact types were developed, until it reached a point where Carol could wear contact lenses in her full prescription, and no longer needed the glasses to top up her prescription. Wearing contacts also made it easier for Carol to drive, as with contacts Carol could attain 20/30. Jeff even seemed happier that Carol no longer needed to wear glasses. John and Martha were the only ones who knew that Carol, who at this time was wearing -23D contact lenses, required a glasses prescription of -36D for each eye. And, Carol refused to have a pair of glasses made in her correct power, which upset John very much, as he knew that Carol would eventually end up having problems with her contacts.
Martha didn’t feel that Carol’s poor uncorrected vision had anything to do with Carol and Jeff separating and eventually divorcing. She just felt that Carol and Jeff had grown apart, and Jeff found himself a girlfriend, leaving Carol no real option other than kicking Jeff out of her home, and her life. Now it was becoming clear to me why Martha had been concentrating heavily on Carol’s story. Carol was the only granddaughter who was single, and was in the correct age group for me. Carol had been born in 1959, and I was born in 1954, so she was about 5 years my junior. I was sure that Martha was playing matchmaker.
I had spent a lot of time with Martha, listening to her stories about the family of high myopes that had apparently started with her. Although Martha’s own children were born slightly premature, I also suspected that possibly her husband John had a hand in some of their myopia. It seemed that every female member of the family had been placed into -10D glasses by the time they were a year old. Maybe they actually required this prescription, but maybe they didn’t. I would never know this for sure. Carol was of interest to me by being an unmarried very high myope; however I couldn’t get too excited. Just knowing that a lady had an extremely strong prescription wasn’t enough to excite me. That was a little like having an old style Zippo with no flint. You could flick the wheel all you wanted, but there was never going to be a flame.
Martha had brought an older Cadillac to the residence with her. The car was mint when she came there 6 months ago, but the car had not left the parking lot. It sat there with a layer of dust, and one flat tire now, and one day Martha took me out to look at it.
“Chuck, I’m never going to drive this old thing of John’s again. Do you want it?” Martha asked.
“I could make use of it, but I can’t afford to give you anything for it.” I replied.
“I wasn’t asking for money Chuck. All I would want is for you to drive me around sometimes on the weekends. My family seems to be too busy to come to see me, so I would like to see them once in a while.” Martha replied.
I replied that I would be happy to drive her around whenever she wanted to go somewhere. Martha had a few visitors while she had been here, but they hadn’t exactly been beating down her door, so I understood her desire to see her family. They would miss her when she was gone, but I suspected that she had always been such a strong, healthy woman that no one even gave a second thought to the fact that soon she would be no longer there.
The old Caddy was a dream to drive. I washed it, bought new tires for it, and serviced it, and it ran like a top. Now on weekends Martha would often ask me to drive her to one of her daughter’s houses. Occasionally their children and Martha’s great grandchildren would be there as well. Eventually I met all of Martha’s offspring. She had a pretty big family, and it seemed that, except for the younger girls who wore contacts most of the time, all of the second and third generation females wore myodiscs. I eventually met Carol, and she was pleasingly attractive, but there just wasn’t any spark there. I could feel that this disappointed Martha, but I also think she could understand why I didn’t take the bait.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was interested in Carol, but I just couldn’t get excited about her. If only she would wear her glasses I would then be able to see if there was a spark that could develop. I suspect that Martha must have told Carol that I was only interested in meeting ladies who wore glasses, because one evening when I was visiting Martha she told me that Carol had so far been unable to wear glasses.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Her prescription for her contact lenses is now right at -28D. This would mean that the lenses for her glasses would be about -45D. But Carol was telling me that they are not able to get a good enough refraction to be sure that this would be a prescription that she could see through. After wearing contact lenses for so many years, her corneas might flatten out after a few days, and her glasses prescription might have to be a bit stronger. Also, the minification, and the distortion from such a strong lens might make it impossible for Carol to adapt to glasses.” Martha told me.
“I understand all that Martha. But Carol really should try to get a pair of glasses. She really shouldn’t be wearing contact lenses every waking moment. It would be a lot better for her if she at least got a pair of glasses that she could wear in an emergency.” I answered.
“She knows that Chuck. She recently had pink eye, and couldn’t do a thing for 3 days until it cleared up and she could wear her contacts again. So, she is going to try ordering a pair of glasses next week. Then she will wear them for a couple of weeks before she goes back to have her eyes examined again, and hopefully they can get her a prescription that she can wear more often.” Martha replied.
“How did you talk her into that Martha?” I asked.
“The problem with her contacts was a large incentive, but I also I asked her if she was attracted to you. She told me that she was, and I told her that you wouldn’t even consider dating her unless you first saw what she looked like wearing her glasses.” Martha said.
“So now she thinks I am a nutcase with a thing for girls who wear strong glasses? Way to go Martha.” I replied.
“Oh, don’t be silly Chuck. I merely told her that you preferred to date girls who wore glasses, and when she replied that her glasses would send you running for cover I told her that you didn’t seem to care how strong the glasses needed to be, as long as the girl wore glasses.” Martha told me.
Nothing more was said about Carol, and Martha and I returned to our normal socializing around the assisted living center. About 5 weeks went by, and one day Martha asked me if I would mind taking her car over to pick up Carol, and take her to her eye specialist. I thought this was a great idea, and suggested that Martha come along for the ride, but she refused. As I was driving over to Carol’s house I figured it out. Martha wanted me to be alone with Carol.
When Carol came to the door I immediately noticed her glasses. They were probably the ugliest pair of glasses I had ever seen. The frame was heavy black plastic, with wide temples, and the lens sizes were quite small. Even with the small lens sizes the lenses were very thick; probably about an inch. They were double myodisc, with an outer bowl that must have been about a –20. It was only slightly larger than the inner bowl, which had to be about a –25D and was around a 20mm diameter or less. Carol was quite aware of how ugly her glasses were, but she made a good effort to appear as natural and friendly as she usually was. Anyone else would have been turned off by these glasses, but I loved them. I couldn’t stop staring at her, which of course she noticed, and mistook my look for pity.
“They are awful looking aren’t they?” Carol said.
“I have seen more attractive looking glasses, but if they are what you need to wear to see with, they are not awful looking.” I replied.
“Actually, after wearing them for 2 weeks now I know they are not really quite strong enough. I couldn’t possibly drive to my eye doctors wearing them, so that’s why Gran asked you to take me.” Carol replied.
“Maybe if you get a proper prescription you can order a pair of glasses that have a bit nicer looking lenses.” I replied.
“Why? I don’t intend to wear them except around the house, so I don’t really need nicer looking glasses.” Carol stated.
“What happens if you can’t wear contacts for a few days? Wouldn’t it be better if you spent the money for a nicer looking pair?” I asked.
“You do have a point. Well, we better go so I won’t be late.” Carol replied.
I drove Carol to the office of her ophthalmologist, and sat in the waiting room with her. When she was called to go in she asked if I wanted to go in with her. I was excited. Not wearing anything other than over the counter readers myself I wanted to look at all the specialized machines. There were lots of pieces of equipment in the office, but the only one I could figure out was the phoropter. The doctor’s assistant placed Carol in the chair, and she began changing something on the phoropter. It appeared that she was switching a lens.
“There are very few people who need such a strong prescription, so we have to use this phoropter, as this is the only one we have lenses that we can put in to allow us to check the stronger prescription,” the assistant told me as she noticed my curious look.
“How strong does it normally go?” I asked.
“This one only goes to -20. We have stronger lenses we can put in that step up in -10D increments. For Carol, since her glasses are -45D. I have put in a -40D additional lens, so using this as a base the doctor can add up to -20D more power. We have used a -60D lens a few times for one patient who has a prescription of around -75D, but that is the strongest we can go.”
After telling me that, she placed some drops in Carol’s eyes and left the room. I wandered around looking at the other good stuff, and I gradually figured out that the one machine had to be a retinascope. But I still had no idea what the other stuff was. The door opened, and the doctor came in. I introduced myself and asked him if he minded if I stayed with Carol so I could help her out when he was finished. He replied that this would be fine.
It was exciting to me to watch him. It all seemed so simple. He swung the phoroptor over in front of Carol’s face, darkened the room, and projected a group of numbers on the wall. All he really seemed to do was flip a few dials, and ask her when she could read the numbers on the wall. She still couldn’t, so I heard more clicks as he flipped the dial. Finally Carol could read the line on the wall. Then he made the letters smaller, and he had to click a few more times. He made the letters smaller twice more. But then it seemed that no matter how many clicks he made, Carol could not read that line, so he made them a little bigger. Carol could read most of this line, but I knew that she was sort of guessing. Finally he was finished.
“What did you come up with Doctor?” Carol asked.
“I have had to increase your prescription by -3D. But since you have had your contacts out for 2 weeks now your corneas have flattened out into their normal state, so this was to be expected. However, I was a little surprised to find that you have about -2D of astigmatism. And, you need about 10 degrees of prism, which I have split between your eyes. Have you been seeing double lately?” asked the doctor.
“When I get tired I do all the time. Sometimes I have to strain to focus.” Carol replied.
“Well, this is a catch 22 situation. You can only get prism in glasses. I could get you contacts with the spherical correction, but you would then need glasses for the prism and the cylinder. Although, I am seeing some scarring on your cornea’s, as well as some broken blood vessels in your eyes, which indicate to me that you have been wearing your contacts too much. So, I would like to see you wear glasses for a while until your eyes heal more. But this is something you can decide later.” The doctor finished.
I helped Carol into the reception area. She let me look at her prescription, and it read OD -48.50 x -2.00 x 95 and OS -47.50 x -2.50 x 85, with a notation for 5 degrees each eye, base out prism. We spoke for a few minutes about what Carol wanted to do as far as ordering glasses was concerned.
“What does he mean about not being able to get my prescription in contact lenses?” Carol asked me.
“The best I could understand is that you require prism now, and from what I have read, prism can’t be done in contact lenses. So, it looks like you almost have to wear glasses. The doctor suggested that you could get contact lenses that would correct most of the nearsightedness, but then you would still need glasses for the balance of the myopia, as well as for the astigmatism and the prism. He also feels that you should stay away from wearing contacts for a while, and let your eyes heal.” I replied.
“So, it looks like I have no choice. I need to get a pair of glasses that I can wear.” Carol replied.
“That sounds like the best idea to me. And, with your prescription we would be well advised to use the optical store right here. Your doctor mentioned that he had another patient with around a -75D prescription, so the optician here has probably found out what, if any options are available for your strong prescription.” I replied.
So, we spoke to the optician, and I was correct. She had done a lot of investigating in order to see what lens options were available for such a strong prescription. We chose a wire frame in an oval shape in a sort of coppery bronze color, and we allowed the optician to order the lenses that she thought would be the best for Carol’s prescription. These special lenses were not going to be cheap. It was going to cost Carol almost $1,200.00 for these glasses, which had to be ordered from a company in Germany which apparently was the only place that could supply lenses this strong. The optician seemed to know exactly what to do though, so Carol and I felt fairly confident that we would have the best possible choice for her new glasses. What really convinced me that she knew what she was talking about was when she measured the distance from the cornea of Carol’s eyes to where the lens would be at the point where the glasses would sit the most comfortably on her nose. She explained that Carol, with her almost -50D prescription, could only see around 20mm from the outer edge of her cornea without correction. A pair of glasses usually sits around 11mm from a person’s cornea, and if they sit any further away than the doctor measured the lenses at, the glasses can be too weak. So she did a lot of measuring and calculating before she came up with a finished prescription. After Carol placed a substantial deposit for her new glasses, I asked the optician when we could expect to receive them. She replied that she expected we would see them in around a week, ten days at the outside.
When I drove Carol home I asked her if she would have dinner with me one evening during the weekend, but she was a little apprehensive about appearing in public wearing her present glasses. However she did agree to take a rain check once her new glasses
arrived, so I was pleased.
Of curse Martha wanted a detailed description of the day, and I gave it to her. I even told her that once Carol got her new glasses she had accepted an invitation to go out to dinner with me. Martha was very happy about this, but I was even happier, as I now found Carol very appealing to me, and I knew I would be willing to take our relationship as far as possible.