I was two years old when I got glasses for the first time. The story goes that when we left the eye doctor wearing my brand new glasses that I pointed at the trees and said “Mama, look. The trees have leaves.” I do not remember this but I believe it. I know what trees look like now with my contacts out, a lot like shapeless blobs.
Apparently in 1977 glasses for little girls did not exist. My father drove to every eyeglass store in town but only dark brown frames could be found. I was young enough I didn’t care. Growing up I had two very minor eye surgeries. I remember after one of them, my doctor put an eye patch on my teddy bear so we’d match.
A mean kid in junior high thought it was funny to call me fish eye. I’m not entirely sure what that meant. I think he wanted to be mean but didn’t have a large enough vocabulary to come up with something more creative. A year later a friend and I decided it would be cool if we got matching glasses. Odd I know but that’s middle school for you.
After about 18 years of wearing glasses I’d had it and contact solution became a part of my daily life. I cheered the first time I got to wear sunglasses. I wear a pair now almost all the time in the car partly for sun glare and partly as a continued celebration.
I’ve thought about getting lasic surgery but the cost and hassle are barriers I haven’t leapt and doubt I will. I’d like to and I’m grateful to have the option if it ever becomes a priority.
Very few people in Rwanda wear glasses. I don’t think its because their eyes are all better than mine. Medical care is limited in Rwanda. Glasses, hearing aids or braces are luxuries. I think the little guy in this photo is just playing around. He probably was just mimicking the Americans who had descended. It is not that he’s a child who can’t see. I hope so. This perspective is the kind of thing that makes you see…better than brand new glasses.