Every morning I get up and, as my father used to tease, “put my eyes in.”I became cross-eyed and far-sighted at the age of 3, so he was only half-kidding. My poor parents had to struggle with getting a 3-year-old to keep these odd contraptions on her face. Instead, I regularly lost them. When my mother would ask where I’d left them, my reply would be to point vaguely off in one direction and say, “There.” They spent a lot of time searching.
By the time I turned 10, that same adoring father decided that his “beautiful” daughter wasn’t going to go through life as a “four-eyes.” It was 1959, and contacts had only been generally available for about 10 years. I admit, it took me a year to stop whining and weeping while getting used to them. Let’s remember that these were the very early versions. They were the size of manhole covers and thicker than the ones we have today. But one day, I looked in the mirror at myself in glasses and never complained again. Vanity is a wonderful motivator.
For years, I was the only child I knew who wore these exotic inventions, which gave me some real swagger.
By the 1970s, soft lenses debuted. I tried them and felt like I was wrestling with cling wrap. My hat is off to those who can deal with them. I also sadly discovered they didn’t correct my weird vision, so I still wear the hard kind.
There is no sleeping in them, even today. For all my experience, it is embarrassing that even today I manage to accidentally wash them down the sink or crack them in half.
I never thought about how long I had been wearing them until a laser surgery nurse told me I would need to leave my lenses off a month for each year I had worn them. I was shocked when I calculated a year-plus without lenses.
I do feel like a pioneer in the field, but was fascinated to learn that Leonardo da Vinci actually came up with the concept of lenses directly on the eye and a German glassblower made the first wearable ones in the late 1800s.
I’ll bet they did it for their “beautiful,” cross-eyed daughters.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.