Friday, March 11, 2011

Part 2: Contacts

Since the last posting got such a strong response (meaning any response at all), I’m continuing the story of my ocular history.

I want you to try something for me. Go to your closet and get out a sweater. Color isn’t important, but it should be a scratchy sweater, preferably one made of wool. Got it? Okay, now pull some of the loose threads off of it; if you’re having trouble getting some, use a lint roller or some tape. Now put the threads in your right hand while holding one of your eyelids open with the fingers of your left. Quickly, while you still are holding your eye open, place the threads on to your cornea and lower your lid on top of them. Good! Hold that there for thirteen hours and you’ve vaguely got the idea of what it feels like to wear hard contacts.

Yeah, a little worse than that.

Of course, it’s even worse than that. Contacts make you light sensitive and take a long time to get used to. For my first week wearing them, I wore sunglasses all day and much of the night. I lost most of my eyelashes from trying to force my eyelids open long enough to stick the lens in.
Yeah, that's it!  That's how it feels.

Once on, they tended to slip off. They’d slide underneath my eyelids, requiring several minutes of rubbing or the use of an embarrassing, tiny suction cup to put them back in the right place (assuming I could find the frigging thing in the first place). On one visit to Disney in college, I had to run to the bathroom dozens of times to replace a lens that would only stay in place for five minutes.

Many times they just fell out of my eyes. I visited Cancun once when my lenses were in a particularly suicidal mood. One fell out over the hotel room’s sink, hiding perfectly on the blue pattern of the tile. Later, it fell out at night in a crowded shopping area. I only found it when I felt the telltale crunch of a lens under my shoe.
It was this odd place called "Mexico Magico."  They must have heard about the lens, because it's gone now.

I was tempted to go back to glasses several times, but never did. It was a hard transition to get me on to them in the first place. At first, they just hurt so much, I hardly wore them, and had bloodshot eyes the entire time I had them on. It wasn’t until I broke my glasses in college and was faced with months of blindness that I finally wore them full time.

Funny thing is, I probably only stuck with lenses because of Willa Cather. You read that right: Willa Cather. See, in high school, we read Paul’s Case. Paul’s Case is the story of a young man who is never understood by his family or school. At one point, Paul’s father holds a myopic man up as an example to him.

“[the man] at twenty-one had married the first woman whom he could persuade to share his fortunes. She happened to be an angular schoolmistress, much older than he, who also wore thick glasses, and who had now borne him four children, all nearsighted, like herself.”

My teacher had pointed out that the nearsightedness was a metaphor for being obtuse. And really, who wants to be thought of as obtuse? Now, I’m acute!

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