I had to start wearing glasses at 8 or 9. It was great to be able to see, but what a bummer at that age when I already felt small and insignificant – glasses just added to the self-consciousness. I did okay through the early 80’s but when the huge frames hit later – oh crimes! Is there a face behind there? I had bifocals at one point as a pre-teen. In the early 80’s on my birthday, Kari and I walked up the hill in the snow to Kim’s house. It was snowing and my lenses were all wet and it was hard to see so I took my glasses off and put them in my pocket. When I went to pull them out and put them back on – you guessed it – they were gone! We searched around but of course didn’t find them. I had to have my birthday party without my glasses and limited sight! My sister and I were in a club with Jill, our neighborhood friend. We all had to have code phrases to get in the treehouse and mine had to be about glasses of course: “Glasses 1 Glasses 2 baby blue where’s your shoe”. In 1984 when living in Alexandria, Egypt I got hit in the glasses with a football. The Egyptians used glass for their lenses instead of plastic so I had these heavy huge frames to wear. I got “transition” lenses though so I had big “sunglasses” on a lot of the time. Those were the days! It’s weird because while starting off self-conscious wearing the glasses, the opposite ended up happening later as the glasses became a part of who I was… I was more self-conscious taking them off than having them on! Huh – I just realized that.
Not being able to see without help has its challenges. I have to squint to see the alarm clock. I have no idea if I grabbed shampoo or conditioner and worst of all is finding out later that I took a shower with a spider. Ewwwwwww Not to mention glasses get dirty, I had to be an inch from the mirror to put make-up on and sometimes they get broken.
I was able to start wearing contacts when I started High School. It was weird getting used to seeing my face without any obstruction. My mom loves me in glasses (she’ll get over it). I always scowled when she said that and shook my head. How can you play basketball with your glasses falling off your face? It was just so much more convenient to wear contacts and helped with my self-esteem.
I enjoyed about 5 great years in glasses and then I got punctate keratitis, an eye infection which caused irritation, dryness, gunk and ultimately the inability to wear contacts. Going back to glasses was a little bit better because with the 90’s came smaller lenses (in some cases) – at least smaller than I previously had. Still, nothing really said “pizzazz” to me or made me feel like I wasn’t wearing glasses. I was a little hesitant to try contacts again but got back into them a few years later. Whew!
As I’ve gotten older, the length of time I can wear my contacts seems to decrease and I wear my glasses most evenings and weekends. I’ve had the same pair for about 4 years and while they do the job, they are “just there” and don’t do much for me in the way of confidence.
At my eye exam in July, I decided to try on some new frames and see if I found any I liked. The lovely Robin helped me. I am a fairly new patient there – two years now – and Robin is basically the Go To Girl – she rocks! We became friends because we are both totally cool and fun – an obvious right? I picked out some frames that only had the top portion of a frame and immediately said I couldn’t get those and Robin asked why not? I said because my prescription is too high. She scoffed and asked who told me that. I said the glasses people at other stores. Oh boy, did she set me straight! She proceeded to explain that they told me that because they didn’t want to make them. The nerve!!! She said, “I make the glasses – I’ll make whatever you want!” So not only is she the right-hand woman, she is the Lab Technician as well! Score! We found a couple cute pairs and one was purple but very similar to what I’d already been wearing style-wise. I seemed to be picking the same old stuff. Robin disappeared and came back with a pair of PG’s (brand). I put them on and WOW – it was instant pizzazz!! The shape is different and there is even some bling bling on the arms and blue no less! They really bring out my eyes! It turns out Robin has the red pair – tender! Next thing I learn is that Robin let her daughter make her own glasses! Whaaaaat? So before I knew what I was saying I blurted out that I wanted to make mine! and she said OKAY! Of course, I tried to get out of because it felt wrong but she said she would be supervising the whole time! Sooo exciting!
A month or so later when my lenses came in (174 – the highest index lens you can buy) and our schedules matched up, I shot over after work to get a lesson in making glasses! Robin made me feel very comfortable, told me I was doing a “perfect” job over and over and that I couldn’t mess anything up – which was a relief considering I was totally out of my element and still felt like I shouldn’t be back in the “lab”!! We used a Santinelli Edger. First, you put the frames in the machine and trace them so the machine knows what size to cut the lenses to. Next, you find the Ocular Diameter of the lenses which involved a microscope – which doesn’t work so well for me. Kind of like looking in the mirror trying to curl my hair (which I don’t but when I’ve tried it’s been sad). I had to get bailed out by Val a couple times on that one. Anyway, the point is to put dots on the lens – find the center. Next, you put a block on the lens. One side has adhesive so you line it up with the dots that you put on the lens and press down to center the block on the dots. Now you are ready for the edging! Secure the block in the edger (fits right in like a puzzle), put down the lid, program some stuff and GO! What starts out as a 3-inch circular lens ends up as a cute little lens that will fit into a cute little frame! When the edger is done, you see if it fits in the frame. It was too big, so we put it back in for more grinding. When it fits into the frame, remove the block. Start on the next lens – repeat the process except you program the edger for the other eye. Lastly, Robin did some fine sanding and polishing of the lenses. Viola! The girls were a hoot – they made me take my contacts off right then and put on my new glasses! I felt amazing, so sassy and confident and it was just a pretty cool feeling…plus I made them! Roar!