I have been a glasses wearer for over 22 years now – and a fairly unapologetic one at that. If it seems odd to you that someone would need to apologize for wearing glasses, this is most likely due to the fact that glasses are now extremely common (or even dare I say, “hipster”), but there was a different time when “four eyes” and “goggle head” insults were swirling around like leaves in a New England autumn. I think it’s because glasses weren’t as common for kids.
That said, during my 8 years as a front-woman and later TV contestant, there was a lot of pressure to shed or modify my eye-wear because of the fear that glasses would keep an audience from connecting with me. I do understand this line of thought: glasses are in actuality a physical barrier that sit between the wearer and the audience, but I figured that the glasses by this point were just an extension of me, so take it or leave it.
Now, after 10 years of stable but bad eyesight, my eyesight has started to decline a bit again and this has led me to actively try and improve my eyesight and get my eyes in healthier shape.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that eyesight is all genetic and there’s no use working on it. That’s what kept me from trying for so many years, but now I am learning new things about eye health and using my eyes how they were designed to be used. Like…
#1: For every 20 minutes of close up work, look for 20 seconds at least 20 feet away. Then every hour, make sure to get up for a few minutes and give the eyes a break and move your body around.
Man! If I had only know this when I was a 7 year old devouring a book a day without taking any breaks!! Or those really long handwritten exams we used to take where I was writing furiously and didn’t look up for 2 hours. This is where the genetics come in – my friends eyes did just fine, but my myopic genes or whatever started activating. Pew pew pew! But I still have an opportunity to help my eyes now by shifting habits. So I am going to look out the window now. 1…2…3…4…5…
#2: For people with very high prescriptions, large and dark glasses frames can decrease your ability to use your peripheral vision, which is an important part of healthy sight.
Aha! So I will need to switch up my frames. This feels like a tough one because I’ve really gotten attached to my current dark big glasses – they feel like a security blanket friend. I have had these for almost 4 years now and the tape and glue that holds them together is a sign of my loyalty. Lastly, these frames have seemed to gain public approval and even symbolize a part of me, so now that I’ve fought to keep these big frames on my face, it is a bit of a bummer to have to let them go for smaller, more inconspicuous ones that will allow me to exercise peripheral vision while look more like a Benjamin Franklin granny.
#3: Many eyes need sunlight to reflect into the eye at some point each day.
My eyes need me to go outside so that the natural sunlight – in all its magnificent glory – can reflect off of objects and into my eye and do what it was made to do. I find that unless I work hard, the vast majority of the light that refracts into my eyes if from a manufactured screen or a lightbulb and my eyes were made to get some sunlight in there too. **NOTE: this does NOT mean looking into the sun or doing anything dangerous, one must always take proper care to not hurt the eyes by doing anything that strains or burns them. When in doubt, learn more before attempting anything that seems potentially dangerous to you**
So, all of these words and 3 far away eye breaks later, I’m writing this as an ode to my thick dark glasses and to the journey to come. Thick dark glasses – I will miss you. Healthy eyes, welcome home.