When I was little, I was a very skeptical girl who kept everything mainstream and conventional at arms length. I was the stereotypical snooty intellectual, proud of her nerdy ways and her distance from anything current. I shunned all things with no clear intellectual value, and reveled in being non-conventional and different. Unfortunately this meant it would take years before I finally experienced childhood staples like Pokemon, the Harry Potter series, Japanese anime and even the cartoons I idolize now: I will always regret that my close-minded mentality kept me from discovering the sheer epic awesomeness that is Samurai Jack until my second semester of college. My general outlook has grown more open, accepting over the years, and no particular object best exemplifies this change in perspective than my view of the contact lens.
I was first prescribed for corrective eyewear in 1st grade; a pair of round bookish glasses that I wore proudly as an emblem of my snooty bookwormish ways. Back then I was clearly too young to consider contact lenses, but I was certain from the get-go I would continue to wear my glasses proudly even past my death, whereupon I would be buried, glasses included. Into my later teens my fashion-conscious mother would implore me to ditch the old wire-frames and switch to contacts, like my sister had done recently. I would just scoff at the suggestion and rush over to my dad’s side: he still wore the old 80’s style with the lens that cover half the face. To me contacts epitomized useless accessory created solely for shallow appearances. They served the exact same basic function as glasses do, but with the added pain of physically sticking little pieces of plastic into one’s eyes!
Over time little issues with wearing glasses began to pile up. Trying to wear some other form of eyewear, like swim goggles or sunglasses posed problems. When it got cold or humid the glasses fogged up. They fell off when I did anything requiring lots of motion, like cartwheels. I couldn’t see well past the edges of my glasses, so I tripped and fell frequently. With each issue it was clear that the world is designed for those with normal eyesight. Contacts began to sound more preferable to me.
Another issue with glasses came up when I was diagnosed later with astigmatism, also known as double-vision. In astigmatism, the cornea of the affected eye is slightly bent, causing the visual acuity to be different at two different parts of the eye. With contacts this irregular difference in visual acuity can be accounted for accurately; two slight lines help me align each contact with my eye accurately to help correct the visual irregularity. With glasses the correction is not as accurate, and images near the rim of the glasses may appear distorted.
With this diagnosis, my opinion on contact lens dramatically changed from that of an optional fashion accessory to something I truly needed to correct my vision. The many inconveniences that come with glasses has also made me partial toward contacts. Now I can wear headphones, sunglasses, plunge into a pool and do flips (if I could) without a second thought.
Being closed-minded and stubbornly refraining from trying new experiences is highly limiting. This doesn’t mean that one should just openly embrace every idea they come across. I now make it a policy to experience before I first critique, no matter how appalling the subject matter may initially seem: if anything it’ll help me come to understand yet another new way of seeing.