The optician heated the left temple tip of my glasses in the hot sand to try adjusting it for about the fifth time. And we still had the right temple tip to adjust.
That’s a process I have endured countless times over my 60 years of wearing glasses and it’s still done pretty much the same way, although newer frame designs have helped greatly. The goal, of course, was to make the glasses stay on and not slide down my nose.
There may be a science behind getting glasses to fit comfortably and stay on at the same time but it’s mostly trial and error. And there are the four main points to consider for comfort – the two temple tips (we still call temples “bows”) and the two nose pads. If any one of them is off, you won’t have a good day.
As a kid, my glasses usually needed adjusting because they wouldn’t stay on. I was a typical kid who got sweaty a lot running around with the neighborhood kids. They would slide right down my nose and even fall off.
I got my first pair of glasses in second or third grade. An eye exam proved that I was squinting to read the blackboard because I was nearsighted. I thought it was cool to get glasses. My older brother Dave already had a nice pair of black-framed glasses, so I wanted them, too.
I know I had black frames at some point but I remember most of them were a transparent shade of brown. It was not so much to match my complexion as they were cheap. You could see the support wires in the bows.
As long as they fit and I could see, I didn’t think much about them. My mother had the theory that I needed glasses after I had German measles. The glasses had none of the modern special coatings to protect my eyes from UV or to protect the frames from scratches. I just got used to a scratch in a certain location after a while and would just move my head to see around it.
I misplaced my glasses at times but since I was basically blind without them, I made sure they were near me. Swimming was the biggest nuisance because you can’t swim with them on and the beach was no place to set your glasses down, even in a towel. If you dive in with your glasses on, you realize it just as they get ripped off your face, never to be seen again.
I remember one time camping with some friends on a beach up river. I had put my glasses in a safe spot – a paper bag. The next morning I couldn’t find the bag or my glasses. Now, these were new glasses so I practically plowed the whole beach looking for them. I asked my friends about the bag and they said they burned a bag along with the trash in the campfire.
Another time I destroyed a new pair of glasses while riding my motorcycle on the highway. I turned my head to look at something and in a blink my glasses were gone. I usually wore a helmet but not that time. I found the glasses, nicely folded up in the middle of the lane. Other cars had somehow missed them. Could I be so lucky? Nope, the lenses were hopelessly scratched. The frames were salvageable but were not pristine.
There are many lessons learned here and one of them is to always keep your old pair as a backup. This has saved me numerous times, including when my glasses have been sat upon or broken in two by getting hit in the face by a kickball. Electrical tape can hold the two halves together but it is not a long-term solution.
I could write a book about my attempts at wearing contact lenses but just thinking about them makes me angry. So I had LASIK surgery to eliminate the need for glasses. But by then I had to start using reading glasses and to enhance my work with computers, I bought “computer glasses.”
More recently I’ve had cataract surgery in both eyes, a few weeks apart. You don’t realize how dim your vision gets until you have one eye done and you compare it with the other eye. The view from the repaired eye was much bluer and brighter with more contrast. The view in the other eye was yellow and dimmer.
If you’ve had LASIK surgery, the new lenses for your eyes should be based on a prescription from before LASIK. Who knew? Luckily, the clinic had one from an old eye exam before I had LASIK.
They new lenses worked out well but I still needed glasses to fine-tune my vision. So I bought glasses with “progressive” lenses and a pair of computer glasses. But it wasn’t long after that when I noticed I had blurry vision, later determined to be from dry eye.
My vision is better now that I’m applying eye drops four times a day and taking a fish oil supplement. But since the dry eye affected my post-surgery eye exam, my new glasses have a slightly incorrect prescription which I’m going to live with for now.
So, be careful what you wish for or you could make a spectacle of yourself.