I finally got contact lenses two weeks ago. I also replaced my left eyeglass lenses. Because of the great improvement in my vision, I wanted to write a blog about my newfound appreciation of being able to see the world clearly. However, the origins of my bad eyesight must be revealed before I talk about the beauty of good vision.
The story of my eyes. I’ve told this story numerous times in person, as it reveals a bit of who I am.
Pain. Deception. Cheating. Lazy eye. Secret keeping. The story of my eyes began at age seven. The family and I went to the 99 cent store because the father wanted to buy condensed milk and browse other discounted items. Yes, we fit into the Asian stereotype of being cheap. Being the kid that I was, I went to the toy section. Many of the toys were opened and lying freely around. The fun began when I picked up a toy BB gun and fired it in an open area. No pellets came out.
You must understand that I am a intelligent person. With brains like mine, it’s only logical to play detective and solve the problem of the malfunctioning BB gun. After thoroughly examining the piece of plastic and finding no obvious deformities, I came up with the genius plan. In order to find out why the pellets weren’t exiting the gun’s chamber, I looked through the barrel with my left eye and pulled the trigger. Apparently, the problem was immediately solved. The gun worked.
For a toy gun that cost a $1.06 (tax included), it hurt quite a lot. I clutched my eye socket and squinted til I almost crushed my retina. After what felt like centuries of pain and oceans of tears (not from crying, but from the body’s natural instincts), I played it cool and walked off. The family never knew this incident happened. Not for ten years, anyway.
There’s this problem in my family: everyone wears glasses. Everyone but me. My sister, either 9 or 10 years old at this time, had been wearing glasses for a while now. After she started wearing them, my parents instilled utmost fear into me.
“You better take care of your eyesight Andy. Glasses are expensive.”
“If you wear glasses, you’ll look as hideous as your sister.”
“Glasses are high maintenance and troublesome, take care of your eyes.”
“Do eye exercises every night to better your vision.”
As a little kid, I wasn’t about to let them tear me apart for a self-inflicted wound that left permanent vision damage. My left eye became horribly blurry. I never told them about the incident. This posed two problems that I had to constantly deal with… annual eye check-ups, both the family optometrist and at school. I passed the tests year after year, which must have amounted to over ten separate occasions. How did I manage? I cheated.
There’s a thing about school eye exams. The entire classroom lines up in single file fashion and awaits their turn to read the eye chart. While awaiting my turn, I used my right eye to memorize the entire chart, both forward and backward. When it was my turn, I recited the chart through sheer memory.
Eye exams (as part of a physical) at the family doctor were more difficult to pass. Because of the appointment procedure, I was the only person they were paying attention to. The strategy of stalling became the norm. While measuring my weight, having my mother fill out necessary forms, and other procedures, I would take a peak at the eye chart and memorize it in the same fashion. I would then recite it.
My scheme for the family optometrist was much easier, for I would let them know when I wanted to take the eye exam. In the meantime, I memorized the chart. I wasn’t feeling confident about my memory retention one year and I pretended to fall asleep in the car for two hours while the rest of the family went into the clinic. They didn’t wake me up. Simply brilliant.
So, this procedure went on for ten years. I was 17 years old when a bigger problem emerged: acquiring a driver’s license. Through the years, my right eye was the only one in use. The left eye had become a lazy one, and I was unable to see past eight inches in front of me. I would be driving blind, with only 2-D depth perception. That’s asking to get into a car accident. I had to tell my mother that my eyesight was horrible.
My mother, having the anally retentive personality, almost had a heart attack. We drove to the optometrist where I was forced to reveal the BB gun incident. I told them that my left eye couldn’t see clearly past half a foot. The optometrist gave me the standard testing. The right eye was at -1.5, not too shabby at all for ten years of continuous strain. The left eye was… -3.5. I wasn’t blind after all! The doctor revealed that, because my right eye was so much healthier, it was the only eye in use. In turn, my left eye was never in use and gradually shut down. It actually wasn’t too heavily damage. Phew.
So, I started wearing glasses. I wore them for three years. I hated it. When playing sports, I had to be cautious not to knock off the glasses. They would also fog up when I started sweating. I couldn’t wear sunglasses without being blind, which also included driving a car. I couldn’t lie down while wearing glasses. I also didn’t like wearing them in public, so the glasses constantly dangled off my shirt. My eyes had a difficult time constantly adjusting to good and bad vision.
Enter contact lenses, one of man’s greatest inventions. Now that I am used to them, I can consistently see well. My vision improved from a condensed 300mb VCD quality video to a 1080p HDTV screen. The surrounding environment actually looks majestic now. I can actually see more stars, and they appear more beautiful than ever. Individual leaves in trees and brushes beam out at me like never before. I’m actually able to check out girls regularly now. Life is so much greater when I can actually see.
If any of you have bad eyesight, take my advice. Wear glasses. Once you’re comfortable with vision correction, move onto contact lenses. 1080p HDTV is, in fact, far superior to 300mb VCD video.