The Disillusionment of Wearing Contact Lenses: A Personal History

“This whole glasses/spectacles shebang is a conspiracy”: An ageing Donald Trump not knowing where to place his signature for a renegotiated Paris Agreement (everyone should use his poor vision to make him re-sign the same instrument, whatay fun.)

I distinctly remember when I was first informed by my friendly UniCare eye doctor (saying ophthalmologist hurts my tongue) that I would require these spectacle things. Innocent boys of 5 years of age used to run around the sandpit in our apartment complex playing “catch & cook”, a glorified, NRI version of “cops & robbers”, when someone decided it was a good idea to make the chubby kid the denner, and then throw sand around when he came to close.

I was the denner.

The sand went into my eyes.

Egads, tears! Egads, loss of all social reputation with lassies!

So I ran up home, and the parents’ conclusion was that it would be useful to ensure no permanent damage had resulted from the fast one my fast friends played on their very, very slow and non-athletic friend.

Verdict: Glasses. -0.25 power on both eyes.

First pair of spectacles: Round, plastic, Harry Potter frames. With those horrible neck slings.

First nickname: Nerd

Current nickname: Nerd

When I was informed by the ophthalmologist (see, what is this word), my memory is of my mother breaking down into tears. She feared her young one would be excluded and called names by his friends (he was), and also feared he’d look ugly (he doesn’t).

But society attaches a peculiar stereotype to those who are accompanied by these magical glasses. Aside from the names: “Four eyes”, “Bug”, “Nerd”, “Loser” – all, common occurrences, everyone now believes you read a lot. Or, that you used the computer for too long and therefore got glasses.

Or that carrot will help you get rid of your glasses and cure your genes. What logic, I say.

To minimise the effect of this stereotype, picking out the set of spectacles suited to your face shape and size is crucial. Especially with your first pair. Think of it like a wizard’s wand.

“The glasses choose the nerd, Mr. Rao”, said NRI Master Sridharan

“I didn’t choose the nerd life, the nerd life chose me”, replied 6-year old Tejas, instantly making it into meme folklore and the thesis submission “Meme-History: Thug Life”, by SocialMediaAsocialRecluse at LensesUniversity

That first pair of spectacles will define your identity for the rest of your life. Merely because you will grow so comfortable with that particular shape on your face, that picking your next set of spectacles is an exercise your mother dreads – you’ll shoo away anything that looks remotely “stylish” or “cool”, because you had these beautiful round glasses first up.

I’m still teased for my first pair.

Nonetheless. My power increased rapidly, which meant that we kept paying to change the lenses on my frames. Eventually, after browsing through racks and racks of spectacle frames, and looking at how responsible their young one was behaving, my parents rewarded me with the luxury of buying rimless, light spectacles.

I hated those. Worst decision I made in my life. These rimless things were usually made of metal, so the nose-pads and the nose-bridge had limited cushioning/no protection of any kind. When a ball hit me in my face in 7th, I came home with a massive scar across my nose, right where the cartilage begins.

Tough times.

What sucked more was the effect it had on the swarms of girls who were chasing after this ladies magnet. The number went from 1902348045698432082 to 0 in an instant. While a lot of individuals have a thing for guys who looked older (and yes, rimless frames do, apparently give off that effect), 7th Grade girls really aren’t the crowd for that.

The name-calling goes from “Nerd” to “Bigger Nerd” i.e., “Academician”

As I grew older, I begged that my parents provide me an opportunity to wear contact lenses. My mother used to wear them prior to her LASIK operation, and urged them to allow me to experience the same feeling. Of not being frightened and doing permutations of “how to explain new spectacles to mom” when the basketball is flying toward your face.

They obliged in the 9th Grade. I’ll never forget it.

I went from Tejas Rao, serial nerd, to Tejas Rao, resident rockstar.

I kid, I kid.

But what social status these lenses gave me. I could experience vision without wearing glasses. And people could see my full face. Finally, an opportunity to flaunt the eyelashes I’ve inherited from mom instead of dad.

The only downside to this was that I couldn’t take naps on the bus. I was always scared the lenses would dry up supremely quickly and lead to some disaster. I eventually came to my sense, prioritized appropriately, and diligently slept on the bus daily.

As I relocated to University, I decided to return to wearing glasses, mostly because I was worried with how unhygienic and dusty hostels are. Didn’t want more foreign substances on my eyes. As such I would have been wearing silicon because of Bausch&Lomb.

Soon, my glasses became a huge portion of my identity. People stopped recognizing me for the swagger of my walk, but began to recognize me because of the bright blue colour of the temples on my spectacles (don’t be ignorant, learn the parts of your eyeglasses here).

So, this month, when my mother placed an ultimatum and forced me back to my lenses (by informing me I look better in lenses), I found it tough to let go of the spectacles.

Then I was on the basketball court early in the morning one day, and my glasses slid down my nose and fell onto the court. I had to bend to pick them up. I thought about how many times I would have to repeat this exercise over the course of my life.

Lenses it was.

Although I subsequently bought amazing spectacles on Lenskart. But more on that sometime else.



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