Sunday, February 16, 2014

Glasses or Contacts?

I've needed glasses since I was about eleven and had trouble reading the board at school. My eyesight got much worse over the next few years and I started wearing my glasses all the time before I turned thirteen. As a teenage girl, I absolutely hated them (doesn't help that they were particularly ugly) and begged my parents to let me have contact lenses, which I got, around age fourteen.

I've been wearing contact lenses for over a decade now. At first I had monthly disposables that had to be taken out every night and stored in a little case, and then I got the Day and Night ones that I could keep in my eyes for a month. This was so much more convenient as I didn't have to fiddle around with cleaning solution so much. Technically you are supposed to give your eyes a break: they recommended taking the contacts out once a week at night to let your eyes rest, but that pretty much never happened. Ever. In fact, I would frequently wear the contacts for much longer than the month they were supposed to be good for. Sometimes I would stretch them out for months and months.

The craziest part in all of this is that I was actually compromising my vision. The whole point of wearing contact lenses is that they give me better vision than glasses do, but most of the time I could barely see anything anyway. My contacts were so covered in a built-up layer of 'gunk'...proteins or mineral deposits from my eyes, that I could hardly see a thing. I'd try scrubbing it off but generally it was pretty stuck-on. Along with this, I suffer from very bad hayfever for most of the year, and allergies just don't work with contacts. 

I tried ignoring all of this, and it got to the point where I was cleaning them in expensive hydrogen peroxide solutions and was still barely able to open my eyes. Finally I thought, this is beyond ridiculous.

As much as I love my contacts and the freedom they've given me, something really needs to change. There's just no point in not being able to see, or having constantly painful eyes. Contacts are expensive because you have to keep buying them. Truthfully, I have never been in a position to be able to comfortably fit them into the budget. That's mainly why I try stretching them out for as long as I can. And perhaps the answer is to just go back to the optometrist and get a different type of lens, go back to ones that require daily cleaning, but honestly, I have tried most lens types by now. They work for a while, and then I run into problems again. The daily disposables are too expensive to wear on a regular basis. 

So, besides LASIK surgery (and its prohibitive cost) it looks like I'm heading back to glasses. I actually have a pair of glasses, my trusty old back up pair, that are pretty cute. I got them several years ago at the insistence of the optometrist (because there are times when you can't wear contacts and I am really, really blind). I even got special lenses put into them that are supposed to reduce the amount of distortion people see when looking at me. My prescription is very strong and it makes my eyes look much smaller than they are. This type of lens reduces that effect (not entirely, but it is a lot better).

I don't live a particularly active lifestyle, so I'm not going to be held back in that regard because of glasses. You can wear glasses in the occasional yoga class. Glasses are really cheap in the long term. You pay for them once, and then that's it. They're easy to clean, and they don't require you to poke your fingers in your eyes on the regular. For whatever reason, they're fashionable now (along with everything else that's considered 'geeky') so I guess that's a plus. 

I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb with glasses on. For the first few days of wearing them I get very distracted by the blur in my peripheral vision and it takes me a while to adjust to the weird way everything looks. As the lens is not as close to your eye as a contact is, there is an amount of distortion. As a consequence, I feel pretty seasick for the first few days. I also feel a bit like I've gone back in time to my most awkward years (seriously, very awkward). I feel a bit invisible. I also can't wear my sunglasses, as they're just normal ones I picked up from Target for $20. But without my contact lenses causing some horrible glare, I don't mind as much. 

I just discovered recently (last night) that, if I'm reading all this correctly, I can get a pair of glasses that are completely covered by our healthcare fund...so that's a bit exciting. It's probably worth doing anyway, even if I go back to contacts. Getting a new pair of frames might make me feel a bit more confident. 

There are other drawbacks too, such as being blind in the shower (maybe not such a drawback), having my glasses fog up when I'm trying to cook or take a sip of hot coffee or tea, or potentially losing my glasses (my worst nightmare!). But you know what? I can see. And my eyes don't hurt. Probably makes it worth it. 

I also think glasses are really cute on other people, or else I just don't really notice them. So there's really no reason for this self-consciousness. In fact, sometimes I see other people in glasses and think how cute they are and how I wish I could pull that off. Then I'm like, duh! You have glasses! 

Me in my glasses. Obviously feeling ecstatic.

10 comments:

  1. I can understand the contact dilemma. I have worn some type of corrective lens since 4th grade. I currently have contacts but also a pair of old glasses. This year I too am trying to decide if I want to continue with my contacts or just stick with the glasses. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! Why not go with both: a nice pair of glasses for every day and some backup daily disposable lenses for special occasions/outdoor events? This is probably what I'll end up doing at some point this year. Good luck with whatever you choose!

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  2. You look really cute in your glasses. I also wore contacts for a few years and loved them. But I also had the round-the-clock ones and apparently also left them in too long--I got an abrasion on my cornea that made them painful, and I haven't been able to wear them since. I miss them sometimes, but I've had glasses since I was eight and am used to them. Besides, my husband wears them, too, so we look like a matched pair.

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    1. Thanks Elaine! I'm very lucky that I've managed to avoid any significant abrasions, but I've had various eye infections a few times. That's really cute that you and your husband match! I adore glasses on other people, now I just have to get used to them on myself.

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  3. I think glasses help but I want contacts

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    1. You should try contacts one day, they are great if you take care of them properly! It's nice to have the option.

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  4. You've chosen frames that really work well for you, so don't worry, you look great!

    I've been short-sighted all my life. I had an expensive flirtation with hard contact lenses in my twenties, when they were the only option. I lasted one week. Later on I found soft contact lenses which felt great, but suddenly I could see every red vein and line and pit on what I previously thought was my flawless complexion. :( But I continued using them because they were just great for sport, or dressing up (who else but Elton John and Dame Edna Everage have a range of specs to match their wardrobe). In the past few years, however, I've landed in vari-focal land and can't read with my contacts in. So like yourself, I am back to every day glasses, and you know what, it's not so bad.

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    1. Thank you!
      I can SO relate to that feeling...definitely the worst part about having clear vision! Every lump, bump, line and pore shows up in high-definition....horrible!
      I think I'll need to have a few pairs of contacts for the situations you describe.

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  5. I totally understand... When I got glasses I saw so many flaws and wrinkles - haha! And I'm so self-conscious when I wear glasses, so instead I don't wear them and see only half the world. At least it's the beautiful half ;)
    Good luck with NaBloPoMo :)

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    1. Thanks Vanessa! I wish I still had the option of not wearing my glasses (or contacts)...unfortunately, if I went without them I'd be bumping into walls and talking to inanimate objects, so it's best if I keep them on ;)
      I also think that's partly why Instagram is so popular...everyone looks better with a soft haze blurring out the edges ;)

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