What a time to be alive for people with poor sight. I have been near-sighted since about eight years old, with my vision becoming worse and worse with every passing year. When I was younger I must have had pretty poor taste, because I picked out the most heinous glasses at the optometrist’s office. They were so unattractive that my parents made me remove them whenever I was in pictures.
Since I was a very active child, mainly with dance but also with sports, glasses were both a necessity and nuisance at the same time. It’s not exactly easy to pirouette without my glasses rocket-launching from my face, but without them, it’s difficult to avoid collision with other ballerinas.
By middle school, glasses became too cumbersome, so I finally decided to get contacts. Since the natural response to something poking your eye is to look away, I was a complete wimp about putting them in the first time.
Sometimes if I don’t have my glasses with me, say, when I’m out and my contacts are really irritating, I decide to take them out. I try not to ever let this happen, but the consequences are just as frustrating as painful eyeballs.
In my current state of vision, I can barely see a thing more than a few feet away from me. Cars and buses are probably visible, but bicycles are definitely not. I’m at the point where it is barely safe to walk around without glasses or contacts, especially in a populated city.
One of the more awkward disadvantages of not being able to see well is that I can’t tell if I know people around me in public, either on the sidewalks or in hallways, or anywhere else I might see friends or acquaintances. I’ve had friends who literally needed to grab me to get my attention, so it leaves me to wonder how many people I’ve actually ignored.
Disorientation from poor sight is a strange feeling, one that I don’t enjoy experiencing. For anyone who relies on glasses or contacts to see, I’d suggest going somewhere in public close by and experiment with what it is like to live in a blurry world.
Not only are logistics and social awkwardness issues that come with poor eyesight, but I think the general quality of life is majorly affected as well. There are few things better, to me at least, than walking out onto campus and seeing the Prudential building, the trees, the people and all of the environment’s other details in high definition. It’s difficult to imagine what life would be like without the availability of glasses, but I still take them for granted almost every second of life.
Although glasses, or at least some sort of magnifiers, have existed for about two millennia, we can assume that they haven’t always been of the quality they currently are, and probably not as widely accessible either. There is no better time than the 20th century through the present for non-20/20 people.
Anyway, if you know me and I ever look like I’m avoiding you on the street, it’s actually just because I can’t see that you’re there – or I’m just avoiding you.
Sydney L. Shea is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.