If you know me personally then you know that I wear contact lenses and I am incredibly nearsighted.
Even though I think I look better without glasses, the reason why I do not wear them is because of my fear of scratches and blemishes on the lenses.
I started wearing glasses regularly in the fourth grade. From popped lenses to broken frames, I was pretty reckless with them. One time, my mom fixed my broken frames with some sketchy-ass copper wire.
Every annual trip to the optometrist was a reminder of my genetic fate. Regardless, I felt partially responsible for my dwindling vision. This was reinforced by my mom constantly nagging me to read in well-lit rooms, take computer breaks, and eat carrots. Ah, Asian moms and their paranoia! To this day I feel a little queasy standing in front of a microwave.
I can’t exactly determine why my glasses became a trigger. I definitely believe it had to do, in part, with my fear of damaging them and the disappointment I felt with having poor vision. Nonetheless, keeping my glasses pristine became a harmful coping mechanism for my anxiety.
High school was the peak of this trigger. I compulsively inspected my lenses under a bright fluorescent light with a magnifying glass. I washed and wiped the lenses down in a specific manner and timing. Despite never being reckless with my glasses, I had believed that there were permanent scratches on the lenses. I forced my mom to get the lenses replaced several times (total understatement). I refused to wear them and tried to dispose of them. Looking back, I am both amazed and grateful that everyone involved put up with my demands.
During one of my episodes, my optician suggested that I try out contact lenses. I have been wearing only contact lenses for over five years now. Wearing them has eliminated the glasses trigger, but I still struggle with other material triggers which cannot be eliminated as easily.
As great as contact lenses are, they come with a lot of drawbacks. Your eyes dry out if you wear them for too long. They are fairly expensive. You can get infections if you don’t keep them clean. Fortunately, I rarely experience discomfort and I have never experienced infections despite wearing them over 10 hours and replacing them monthly (supposed to be biweekly).
It’s terrible, I know! In the end, your eyes are being depleted of oxygen. Knowing this, I still could not bring myself to confront glasses until now (dun dun dun).
I did a full eye examination on campus because I had no time to go to my family optometrist in Toronto. Walking in, the optometrist immediately asked me, “Where are yo glasses gurl?”. Too embarrassed and lazy to elaborate on my mental illness, I simply told her I forgot them. She totally gave me this “WTF? Who forgets their glasses?” face. At the end of my appointment, I found out my prescription increased significantly and that I was at high risk for retinal detachment because of it (no bungee jumping for me ever).
I left the office on a sunny day with extremely diluted eyes and a glasses prescription. If you saw some girl that day walking around flailing her arms and squinting, that was me. The university is stingy as fuck – they won’t take ten seconds to convert a glasses prescription to a contact lenses prescription. Instead, you have to set up another appointment and fork up more money (as it is not covered under the health plan). They also make it seem like you are doomed for all eternity if you don’t purchase glasses or contact lenses from their store.
Fortunately, my family optometrist did the math for me online. With the two prescriptions, my sister suggested that I also get glasses because they were free. She reassured me by saying, “You don’t have to wear them all, just keep them there in case of an emergency”. So I decided to order both glasses and contact lenses online. I will admit, it was fun picking out frames.
When they arrived in the mail a month ago, I avoided opening the package with my glasses like the plague. One morning, out of curiosity, I decided to try them on. It’s hard for me to explain, but it was very difficult – almost painful. A lot of memories came flooding in and instinctively, I inspected the lenses for scratches. After wiping and sanitizing them, I finally put them on my face.
I tried standing up and I almost fell over! After not wearing glasses for over five years, my eyes had a lot to re-adjust to. I had an awful headache that day and I kept comparing my glasses prescription with the online order to make sure it was correct.
So far, I have only worn my glasses three times, twice at night. I still compulsively check and wash them. Slowly, my eyes are adjusting. I don’t think I will ever wear them permanently. All that matters to me right now is that I am confronting them.
P.S. If I am buried or cremated with my glasses on, I will haunt errybody!