Should I wear glasses or contact lenses?
Weddings, parties, funerals, interviews or a first date… What would you wear as your optical correction of choice?
Speaking from Personal Experience
Imagine the situation… A young lady, mid 20’s, educated and working. What’s the next big thing on the agenda? Finding her prince charming of course! This was me, many moons ago. I am sure many people will recollect their own personal memories (or trauma’s) of trying to find their ‘perfect one’ but try equating in the extra burden of needing spectacle correction. In my case specifically, I was short-sighted and couldn’t see anything clearly, without glasses, beyond full arm’s length! I have many stories that would amuse the average non-spectacle wearer and spectacle wearers alike but one is worth mentioning because it made me take drastic action after a much embarrassing situation.
The Night Out
In my mid-twenties, one of my cousins threw a lavish birthday celebration in central London. The setting was exactly as represented by British movies of the City Banking District, with tall, smart, educated and gorgeous people mingling in the finest of clubs. I was working in Buckinghamshire at the time, so I dragged one of my girlfriends with me to London (to find me a husband, of course). My friend and I looked fabulous with our figure-hugging dresses, heel’s, pristine hair and clean, simple make-up, where a stroke of genius eyeliner made us look like supermodels (none of the contouring, high lighting and Kim Kardashian make-up of today). Unfortunately, in all the rushing around, I forgot to pack my Contact Lenses and the only mode of clear vision, was my small, metal, fairly non-descript and boring spectacles. Not a grave disaster, I thought. At least my hair was straight and I packed my best high heels (far more important when you’re twenty-something). So, what did I do in this situation? Well, I think I made the same decision as every other ‘Bridget Jones’ type woman out there, and I went without my glasses. So what if I couldn’t see properly? The guys could see me and I looked hot. Nothing else mattered. To cut a long story short, the ‘Look’ worked. My rather over-protective cousin-brother wasn’t too happy having to look out for me, but with the help of my friend, I managed to dodge him and walk straight into the strong arms of a tall, muscular guy! Bingo, I found my husband… or so I thought.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
The next few hours I spent giggling and laughing with the man of my dreams. My cousin came up to me to check if I was ok. He was concerned that this guy was standing a bit too close to me. I, on the other hand, didn’t think he was standing close enough. My cousin gave me a look of concern. “Are you sure?!” he asked me. I told him to stop acting like my father (imagine the Soprano’s) and give me space. I was grown up and ready to make my own life decisions. Anyway, the evening was drawing to an end, so we exchanged numbers (and, yes; we did have mobile phones back then), and with a peck on the cheek, we said our goodbyes. In the taxi home, my friend and I were already talking about wedding outfits.
Over the next few days, My Hero and I were constantly on the phone, talking and texting. We planned our next meeting and I couldn’t wait to see him again. After the longest week ever, another Saturday came along and My Hero and I had our first date. He was travelling from Kent and I lived in West London. We decided to meet in the middle and just settled for dinner and the movies. I made the effort to look ‘effortlessly pretty’ and this time I made sure to wear my contact lenses. I parked up in the car park and Hero was already waiting for me. Like a gentleman, he walked to my car to take me to the restaurant. It was a dark evening and this tall, dark, perfectly formed silhouette was walking towards me. I remember the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as if it were only yesterday.
After the feeling of not being able to breathe properly, I soon caught my breath back and my feet were firmly back on the ground when I could see My Hero properly in the lobby lights. OH MY GOSH….. Who was this man? And more importantly, what has he done to my future husband? The body was still tall and fit, but how did I not notice his hair (he had a bald patch….. in his 20’s), his skin? and those teeth? They were so big. I thought that I found my perfect man, John Abraham, but with the clearest vision, the reality was that I found 50 Cent (no offence to 50 Cent, but really, not my type).
My dream, at that moment, had fallen apart. This is a typical scenario of…
“…you should have gone to Specsavers”
That night, the previous week, in the dimly lit club, I should have worn my contact lenses! Poor lighting and poor vision led to a poor life decision. How I managed to get out of that date, is a completely different story which I won’t bore my readers with.
Always have nice glasses & always carry spare contact lenses!
After this incident, I did order nicer spectacles, and I always made sure that I travelled with at least 5 pairs of contact lenses! At the age of 26, I made the decision to have Laser Eye Surgery (vision correction by surgery). Fifteen years later, I still have perfect vision and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
You see, 30 to 40 years ago, we didn’t really have a choice for Optical correction. You either wore your spectacles or took them off for photographs. If you were really vain, you wouldn’t wear your glasses at all and happily ignore everyone that you couldn’t see. If you were privileged enough to afford contact lenses (CL’s), you could go about meeting and greeting everyone without appearing rude.
Nowadays, CLs are cheaper, they have extended wearing times and you can start wearing CLs from a much younger age, provided the child is capable and has guardians supervising them. Hence, we have more options. In the not so distant yesteryears, patients had to face more compromises with contact lens corrections but today, we have so many solutions in the form of Soft lenses, Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses, Spherical lenses, Toric lenses, Multifocal, Extended wear, Myopia Control, and Cosmetic to name just a few.
In the modern world, it’s good to see that people are confident to wear spectacles, whatever the style. The spectacle frames can be bold and ‘statement-making’, or lightweight and discreet like the Rimless ranges. Since adults enjoy wearing the new ranges of eyewear, the young ones have followed suit and have started to wear spectacles with ease and comfort.
In my days, glasses were ‘nerdy’ and not the ‘in’ thing. I was prescribed spectacles for Myopia or Short-sightedness at the young age of 10. My memory of my first pair of glasses was that the world looked so different. I didn’t know such a clear world existed because I became accustomed to the blurred focus that I was growing up with. What adults forget, is that a child doesn’t know any better than the vision or senses that they are born with. My parents noticed little telltale signs that I wasn’t ‘seeing’ properly. I would sit closer to the television and I would squint at things in the distance. My mother was short-sighted and so arranged my first Eye Exam or Sight Test.
To discern which optical correction is best suited to a person, we have to understand the basic visual anomalies.
Short Sight (Myopia)
In a short-sighted eye, the eye has grown slightly too long or the cornea (the clear outermost layer of the eye) is too curved. Consequently, the light rays that enter the eye do not focus on the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the eye). Instead, the image comes to a focus in front of the retina. This is perceived as blurred distance-vision whilst the near-vision is clear. To correct the short-sightedness, concave lenses are used or minus-powered lenses.
Long Sight (Hyperopia)
In a long-sighted eye, the eyeball is too short or the cornea has less curvature. The light that enters the eye, does not focus on the retina but instead focuses behind the retina. This usually forms a clearer distance image but poorer near sight. To correct this, we use convex lenses, otherwise interpreted as plus-powered lenses.
Astigmatism is another common cause of blurry vision. In the astigmatic eye, the eye is shaped more like a rugby ball (cylindrical) than a football (spherical). The light rays that enter the eye, do not meet at a common focus which results in the distorted images. It is worth noting that astigmatism is not an eye disease, but a refractive issue which requires correction with cylindrical lenses. This type of lens will have two powers. The first power will correct the short or long sight and the second power will correct the astigmatism.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Prisms, in a spectacle prescription, are used to correct double-vision. The double vision is caused by a muscle imbalance in the eye. The prism will help move the image either vertically or horizontally and is shown in the prescription as a prism base UP, DOWN, IN or OUT correction.
As we age, the crystalline lens (the transparent, biconvex structure of the eye that changes shape to allow us to focus at different distances) loses its elasticity and therefore, cannot focus from far to near as well as it used to. From the age of approximately 40 years and onwards, a person will notice signs of poor vision at close up ranges. Reading becomes more difficult and this can be corrected with near vision spectacles, bifocals or varifocals. Regardless of whether a patient is long or short-sighted, they will eventually require extra magnifying power for close work, as the person gets older.
In answer to the main question, ‘What to wear on different occasions’, the answer is actually quite simple. Wear what you are comfortable in. There are no hard and fast rules but the following pointers may give individuals a few guidelines.
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