Growing up with terrible vision

photo of a girl putting on eyeglasses
Eliana Marcu/Staff

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Most people wake up and reach for their phones, but I have to reach for my glasses. It’s hard for me to believe that there was a time when I woke up to a clear world. Without my glasses or contact lenses, people seem like mere shapeless, featureless silhouettes and I feel robbed of a crucial sense required to navigate the world.

I didn’t always resent my terrible vision or the idea of wearing glasses. I was strangely excited when I first realized that the numbers and words on the whiteboard in classrooms weren’t legible. As a naive 5-year-old, that meant that I could wear a fun accessory with an added bonus of clear sight.

As the years passed by, my vision got worse, along with my opinion on glasses. I hated that I had to wear them every waking second and that I couldn’t just take them off when I wanted to. Against my better judgment, I would sometimes leave them at home to see how well I could manage with a blurry world for a few hours. But whether it was at school or on a grocery run, I instantly regretted it each time.

My frustration with my terrible vision hit a peak when I was in middle school. Most of us go through our awkward phase during those years, but I felt that my glasses added fuel to the fire. Wearing glasses was no longer a symbol of coolness and intelligence. Instead, it reminded me of my awkward self every time I saw myself in the mirror. You can bet that I endlessly begged my parents for contact lenses so that I wouldn’t have to wear glasses to school again — but to no avail.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when I semiretired my glasses and replaced them with contacts. My parents had finally realized that it’s a little hard for their daughter to be active when she has to focus on making sure that her glasses don’t fall off — despite telling them many times prior that glasses and physical activity just don’t mix.

After I got contact lenses, it was a rare occurrence for me to be in public with glasses. My classmates slowly forgot that I had terrible vision, and I did too for the majority of my day. I no longer had to worry about my glasses sliding down my nose or having to clean my glasses every time they fogged up. I no longer felt self-conscious about my subpar vision.

Something that will never change is that once I take off my temporary solutions, the world is back to being blurry shapes and colors. While I might resent it sometimes, I’ve also learned to accept it. I realized that while it may be inconvenient, it will forever be a part of who I am — and that’s okay.

Contact Zara Koroma at [email protected].