Popping Out the Lenses

I have not been blessed with good eyesight, but I should not complain because my vision can easily be corrected. It was in fourth grade when I realized that it was possible to look at a tree and see each individual leaf. What a wondrous moment for me—so much so that I can still remember it to this day.

For the next four years, my light blue, plastic-framed glasses enabled me to clearly see the world. Unfortunately, boys did not notice shy girls with geeky glasses and crooked teeth.

So in ninth grade, I convinced my parents to allow me to get contact lenses. I was positive it would be a game-changer.

Back in the late sixties, contacts were not nearly as comfortable as the soft lenses that you all have today. They were smaller, hard, rather than flexible, and could be worn only 8-10 hours per day. If I was planning a late-night activity, I would usually remove them for a while during the day. Very annoying!

I clearly recall the day I got them because I was so excited at the prospect of finally shedding my glasses. The idea of putting a hard, foreign object in my eye scared me, and after several unsuccessful attempts, I was able to insert the first lens. Suddenly, the world around me began to fade. My skin felt clammy, the voices around me sounded far away and hollow, and I felt dizzy. The next thing I know my head was between my knees as the nurse tried to prevent me from fainting.

Eventually I left the doctor’s office able to see without my spectacles. I had to slowly build up a tolerance for the lenses, increasing them by an hour each day until I reached the maximum number of hours of comfort for me.

The vision with the hard lenses was exceptional, but occasionally, they would pop out, and I would end up on my hands and knees trying to locate my missing “eye.” As you may recall, I was not a fan of gym class, so on occasion, I would fake a popped contact so I could return to the locker room and reinsert it. Of course, that would take a very, very long time—so long that I would miss the rest of my class. Oh well!

Many years later, I was grown up, married, and off in Hawaii with Dad. This one particular day I left my contacts in too long, and the next day, I awoke in excruciating pain and could not even open my eyes.

We were staying on the island of Oahu, and on that day, we were leaving for Maui. Dad had to lead me to the plane, and I was allowed to board ahead of the other passengers. I remember having to keep my eyes closed for the next twenty-four hours or so, which resulted in me missing the very scenic plane ride to our next stop. I sat out on a lounge chair at the condo we had rented while Dad acted as my servant.

When we returned home, I decided that despite the fact that my eye doctor informed me that my vision would not be as crisp with soft lenses, I felt that my Hawaiian experience was enough to convince me to switch.

I have been a loyal wearer of soft contacts ever since. Maybe I should return to Hawaii to recapture that missing time.