…at Girls Who Wear Glasses. This little poem by Dorothy Parker said everything there is to know about why I hated wearing glasses as a young woman. Often I just went without them. I found that I had the ability to sort of squinch the muscles in my eyes to see normally, although after a day of that I’d have to hide in the privacy of my own home and gratefully put the glasses back on. (I will say this for Sarah Palin: she’s made wearing glasses cool again.)
Before that, I hated wearing glasses as a child (and I’d been wearing them since age two) because of the taunting. “Four-eyes” was the popular chant, but in all fairness, that applied to both girls and boys with glasses.
I so longed to wear contact lenses, but I was totally put off by the concept of poking a piece of glass in my eye, and I’d heard horror stories of what damage they could do. And then came the miracle of soft contact lenses. Although it took some practice, I wasn’t so put off by putting something in my eye that reminded me of a tiny piece of Saran Wrap.
I’ve now been wearing contacts for about 30 years, and in that time I’ve seen so many improvements. It’s quite amazing. Lenses you can wear overnight. Lenses you can dispose of, instead of having to laboriously clean them. Lenses which can correct all sorts of vision problems, rather than the simplest ones.
I no longer care so much about the aesthetics of the whole thing, I now hate glasses because I can’t stand to have them on my face. I don’t like the way they feel. You constantly have to adjust the damn things. I tolerate sunglasses as a necessity, but you don’t have to wear them all the time. I don’t like waking up and pawing through the stuff on the bedside table to find them. I like waking up wearing contact lenses that you can sleep in, which allow you to see normally the minute your eyes pop open.
But last week, I ran into an unexpected problem…this is the primary cause of my Week From Hell. It’s been a year and a half or so since I had an eye exam, and so for several months now I’ve been wearing my glasses since I ran out of contacts. My optometrist’s office, to their credit, is religious about you having an annual exam before renewing your prescription for either glasses or contacts. So I dashed in on Tuesday morning for the exam, expecting to walk out as usual with one complimentary pair of contact lenses while I waited for the six-month supply to arrive. But during the exam, no matter what they did, they could not get my right eye to correct. Taking another look, the optometrist said, Aha! No wonder! The problem is, you have a pool of blood on the retina in your right eye, near the macula. I felt like I had been thrown into a telephone pole. Instant panic.
I’m bleeding in the eye? Macula? I didn’t know what that was but somewhere in the recesses of my brain I dredged up the term “macular degeneration” which I thought means inevitable blindness. (In some cases, it does.) So the exam came to a halt, and I was referred to an opthamologist, whom I saw the next day. For three hours. Sometimes it helps a lot when you’re faced with unexpected medical emergencies to focus on how cool the technology is. And the tests they did and the equipment they used were indeed fascinating. I was mostly amazed by the cameras which take pictures of the retina, all the way through the eye.
So next Wednesday, they are going to inject a drug into my eyeball to try to stop the bleeding. I’m not too scared, because I don’t think it will hurt. You don’t have any feeling on the inside of your eyeball, and they will deaden the cornea before sticking the needle in. Nevertheless, there is a huge Ick Factor here, wouldn’t you agree? However, I’ve learned that the unendurable is in fact endurable when the alternative of doing nothing leads to sure and certain disaster.
Another of the fascinating issues is that there are two drugs they can use, one of which is not approved for use in the eye. The other drug is, but it’s ten times more expensive. I had another jolting experience as a result of this…I had a heart to heart talk with my insurance company about whether they would pay for this treatment. The answer was yes, they would pay for either one, even the one that is “off-label”, whatever the doctor decided, and they offered to voluntarily call the doctor and say so. What? Insurance companies normally top my personal list of the Axis of Evil, and here they are saying yes without saying no first? Actually offering to help ease the way? Hmmm. It appears I’ll have to revise my list.