Saturday, November 16, 2013

Life After Contacts

by Specs4ever

Madison sat at her seat at her classroom desk, and squinted at what the teacher was writing on the chalkboard. No matter how much she screwed her eyes up she couldn’t make out a thing. She had chosen a seat only 3 rows from the front, because last spring, in her old classroom, she had noticed that she couldn’t see anything from where she was, closer to the back. But now, after the summer holidays, she couldn’t even see from almost the front of the classroom. She sighed, as she knew what this meant. Her friend Katie had the same problem last year, and at age 12 she had to get glasses. There were a lot of older kids at the school who wore glasses, so Madison knew it wouldn’t be terrible or anything to have to wear glasses, but she still didn’t like the idea.

That night at the supper table Madison told her mom and dad that she couldn’t see the chalkboard anymore. Her dad seemed to think that it wouldn’t be a problem for long, as she could have an eye exam and then get glasses if she needed them. But her mom didn’t seem too happy about it. Her mom had worn glasses forever, and seemed sad that Madison had inherited her bad eyesight. Actually her mom hadn’t worn glasses for year, but always wore contact lenses.
As Madison had suspected her eye exam showed that she was a nearsighted young lady, and would need glasses. The doctor even suggested that with Madison’s -2.50D prescription she might even be happier to wear her glasses all the time, instead of taking them off whenever she didn’t need them, like Katie did. Madison and her mom looked at some of the frames that were on display at the opticians, and Madison found a couple that she liked. But before she ordered the glasses her mom surprised her by asking if Madison would rather just get contact lenses. The idea of wearing contacts didn’t exactly thrill Madison, but she figured that they would be better than glasses, and then nobody would know that she had bad eyes.

The optician explained to Madison that there were a number of options. There were daily disposables; there were 90 day wear lenses, 30 day wear lenses, and also weekly disposables. Madison liked the idea of weekly disposables, and since the optician at the doctors office had a good selection of weekly disposables in the correct prescription, Madison was soon wearing a pair of contact lenses that felt really comfortable. And the best thing about it was that everything looked crystal clear to her when she was wearing the lenses.

Once they decided on contact lenses, the optician suggested that Madison should come back in for a 6 month checkup, so when they left the doctor’s office Madison had an appointment for the following April, just before her 14th birthday. Madison loved wearing contact lenses and soon it became second nature to pop them in first thing in the morning and then take them out in the early evening, after she had finished watching anything she wanted to see on television, and just before she retired for the evening. Her mom sometimes took out her contacts right after supper, and put on her glasses, but Madison didn’t have glasses, and didn’t think she needed a pair because her eyes were not nearly as bad as her moms were. She had taken out her contact lenses one day before her mom had come home and she had found her mom’s glasses and tried them on, but she couldn’t see a thing with them on. But even without glasses Madison could read, and get around without bumping into things like her mom did without her lenses in or her glasses on.

After Madison went back for her 6 month checkup and she got her new lenses she was amazed that everything looked sharper and clearer. One day she looked at her new supply of lenses and saw that the numbers on the boxes were different than they had been. Now instead of -2.50D for power the number was -3.00. The doctor hadn’t mentioned to Madison that she needed stronger contacts, but Madison realized that this was the reason why she could now see everything so much better.

It had now been a year since Madison had gotten her original contacts, and it was again time for another eye examination. This time Madison knew that she needed stronger lenses, because she could tell that everything she looked at in the distance had fuzzy edges, or just couldn’t be seen clearly without scrunching up her eyes. This time the new boxes had -4D for the power, but with her new lenses in Madison could see ever so much better. This time she had asked the doctor what was wrong with her eyes, and the doctor told her that it was normal for girls her age to become slightly more nearsighted as they grew, because their eyes were growing in an oval shape instead of round like they were supposed to. Madison didn’t think anything more about this, and went on with her daily life as she always did. But now she did notice that when she had her contact lenses out she had to bring her books a lot closer before the print on the pages was clear. And she could no longer work on her computer without her lenses in, because she had to get too close to the screen to see things. Now she was taking her lenses out just before she went to bed, and putting them back in first thing in the morning.
The next time Madison went for her checkup, just before she turned 15, the numbers on her new boxes read -4.75D. This time the friendly optician asked Madison if she wanted to get a pair of glasses to wear when she wasn’t wearing her contacts, but Madison just said that she didn’t think she really needed glasses, and the optician didn’t say anything more.

Madison was becoming a very pretty young lady. By the time she turned 13 she already had a nice rear end, pretty legs and a decent chest size, and as she grew older everything just seemed to fit together. Now that she was almost 15 Madison was constantly being asked out by different guys, but she couldn’t date because her stupid parents wouldn’t allow her to date until she had her 15th birthday. She had gone out with a few guys without her parent’s knowing about it by meeting them at the movies, and a couple of times she had stayed over at one of her girlfriend’s houses so that her parents wouldn’t know that she was going to a party with a guy. She was so sick of her parents treating her like a child.

Finally she was 15, and when Daniel from the football team asked her out she was really happy to be able to finally date. She had wanted to go out with Daniel forever, and it had been really hard to be a cheerleader, where she was riding on the bus with the boys, and not being able to date any of them. But Daniel had understood when she told him that her parents were really strict with her, and he had waited until after she was 15 to ask her out.

Early October rolled around and it was again time for Madison to have her regular 6 month eye exam. She knew she really needed to get stronger contacts again, and she had worried a little bit about this. She had even asked her mom if it was normal for her eyes to get worse so fast, and her mom had reassured her by telling her that the same thing had happened to her when she was Madison’s age. Even though her mom’s glasses were pretty thick and strong Madison didn’t worry anymore, because her mom seemed to see quite well as long as she was wearing her glasses or her contact lenses. After this eye exam the number on her contact lens box jumped by -1.00D up to -5.75D. So far Madison hadn’t developed any astigmatism, and both eyes still required exactly the same prescription. But this time, instead of being given a 6 month supply, the optician only gave Madison a 3 month supply and told her that the doctor wanted to see how she was seeing in 3 months, and if she could still see quite well, then Madison could just phone in and get another 3 month supply. When Madison asked why this was, the optician told her that Madison was right at the age where her eyes might change more frequently for a little while, and she might need stronger lenses again in only 3 months. Madison thought that this was crazy. Sure, her eyes seemed to change every 6 months, but to change enough every 3 months to need stronger lenses just wasn’t right.

Just after Christmas, right around the time where she was supposed to phone the optician and order her next 3 months of lenses Madison and Daniel went to the movies. Daniel wanted to sit near the back, but soon after the show had started Madison realized that she couldn’t see very well from where they were seated. She mentioned this to Daniel, and he found a couple of empty seats a lot closer to the screen. Madison felt a little embarrassed when Daniel suggested that she might need to have her eyes tested, and she realized that he didn’t know that she already wore contact lenses. She told him that she already wore contacts, but that she needed new ones and nothing more was said.

This time the doctor seemed a little bit surprised that he needed to increase her prescription as much as he did in only 3 months. Now the number on the contact lens boxes read -7D. But this didn’t really matter too much to Madison, as once she put her new lenses in she could see very well again. The blur was gone, but it didn’t take long to return.

Now, just before her 16th birthday Madison knew that she needed a pretty decent increase in her prescription. Again, once she got her -8D contact lenses Madison could see perfectly. She passed her eye exam for her beginner’s license with flying colors. And 3 months later when she went back to the doctor she was really happy when the doctor told her that she could order another 3 month supply of the same contacts because her prescription hadn’t gone up enough to get her stronger lenses.

However, the next time Madison went in for her eye exam, her new contacts had to be -9.00D, and the optician told her that the next time she needed stronger contacts they would have to try another brand, because this was the highest power that this brand came in.

Madison still hadn’t ordered a pair of glasses, even though the optician had been a little more persistent every time she got her new, stronger contacts. Now there wasn’t a thing that Madison could do without her lenses in, and even walking around her room was practically impossible. So, she never took her contacts out, and sometimes even fell asleep wearing them when she was reading in bed. This often resulted in Madison removing and rewetting her lenses the first thing the next morning, She knew she shouldn’t fall asleep wearing her lenses, and every time she had to go a day with her eyes still sore from wearing her lenses all night she would promise herself that she wouldn’t ever leave her lenses in all night again. She knew she really should get herself a pair of glasses, but she had been helping her dad clean up the basement, and she had discovered a box containing a number of pairs of her mom’s old glasses. After seeing a few pairs of what her mom had to wear when she was younger Madison really didn’t want to wear glasses.

Madison knew that her mom had a pretty strong prescription and had worn glasses since she was around 12 years old. And Madison had talked with her mom about their poor eyesight so Madison knew that her mom had a lot of something called astigmatism that Madison didn’t have. But it still shocked Madison when she snuck back down into the basement after school a couple of days later and she tried on some of her mom’s old glasses. She really couldn’t see very well though any of them, but she was amazed at how thick the glasses were that she could see through the best. The lenses in that pair had to be almost ¾" thick, and Madison knew there was no way she would ever wear glasses that looked that thick. What Madison didn’t realize was that with a contact lens prescription of -9.00D made her glasses prescription anywhere between -10D and -10.50D. Her mom’s old glasses had a prescription of -10.25 x -1.00 x 90 in one eye, and -10.50 x -1.25 x 80 for the other eye and they were in the old CR39 plastic that lenses of the late 70’s were made from. And the frame sizes of the late 70’s were pretty big compared to the frame sizes of today, so the lenses were quite a bit thicker than the lenses would be in her glasses if she did get a pair to wear. Then the pair that Madison figured was her mother’s next pair was even worse looking. They were not as thick, but they had a circle in the center, and looked really funny. Madison could tell from looking through the lenses of the glasses which pair probably came next, and that pair also had a circle in the center. The pair that Madison figured came after that pair still had what looked to be a circle, but the circle was not quite as obvious. The next 3 pairs were the same type of lenses.

Madison also found an old prescription slip from her mom’s optometrist, and that slip, which was dated May 14, 1984 read -16.00 x -2.50 x 90 and -16.50 x -3.00 x 75. Madison did the math, and realized that her mom would have been 22 at that time. Madison felt that this was likely the prescription in the strongest pair of glasses that she found, and her guess would have been correct. Madison should have realized that there had been a lot of advances in lens technology since her mom had gotten the glasses with the myodisc lenses and the superlenti lenses in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but she didn’t think about that. She just knew that there was no way she wanted to wear glasses that looked anything like the 6 old pairs of her moms that she had found in the box.

So Madison went another 3 months without getting a pair of glasses. But she didn’t feel that her eyes had gotten any worse since she had gotten her new contacts, so she cancelled her 3 month exam, and ordered enough of a supply of contacts to last until her 6 month exam. She was a typical almost 17 year old girl. She partied with her friends, staying out until all hours of the night. She went to the late show with her friends anytime there was a new movie playing, and ended up at a coffee shop talking to them until the wee hours of the morning. And she fell asleep wearing her lenses a few more times. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to her when she went for her checkup and the doctor found that not only did she require a stronger prescription, but she had seriously been over wearing her contact lenses.

Madison was devastated at the news that she had to quit wearing her contact lenses for at least a month. She felt that her life as she knew it had ended. The lady optician that she had been helped by for a number of years didn’t offer her a lot of sympathy either, and Madison felt that she was saying, "I told you so." But she didn’t say it out loud, and she was very helpful when it came to ordering the first pair of glasses that Madison had ever ordered. Because Madison now had a glasses prescription of -11.25D for both eyes the lady suggested a fairly heavy black rectangular frame with wide temples – "to hide the thickness of the lenses my dear." And she suggested a lens option called a 1.74 hi index plastic. Madison didn’t know what this meant, but when the optician told her that this was what her mother now had, Madison knew that the $250.00 extra these lenses cost would be a necessary expense. The doctor hadn’t wanted Madison to wear her contacts at all, but Madison told him that she didn’t have a pair of glasses to wear, so he told her that it was very important that she only wear her lenses for school, and when absolutely necessary. The optician had a pair of -10.00D contacts in a different brand that she felt that Madison could wear until her new glasses came in, so she fitted Madison with the lenses, and Madison was allowed to go.

Madison’s guts were churning for the whole week before she got the call that her glasses were ready. She just knew her glasses would be really thick and that everyone would stare at her and maybe make jokes behind her back about how blind she was. But she knew that she had to wear her new glasses no matter how awful they looked. The new brand of contacts that she had been given to wear whenever she had to were really not as comfortable as her old brand had been. And she wasn’t going to be able to even try any other brands to see if there were any better ones for her until the doctor told her that she could go back to wearing contacts.

Madison was surprised when she saw her new glasses. The optician showed them to her before she took out her contacts, and the lenses were not as thick as she thought they would be. Yes, they stuck out behind the frame a little bit, but the wide temples hid that nicely. She took out her contacts, and put her new glasses on. Something was wrong. Everything looked weird, and oh so tiny. She mentioned this to the optician, and the optician told her that this was normal, and she would get used to it in a day or so. Madison headed for home, driving ever so carefully.

Her dad came home first, and he complimented her on her new glasses. Even though it was a compliment from her dad that made her feel a little bit better. And her mom told her that her glasses looked very nice when she saw them on her a little bit later. After supper she headed over to Josie’s house to return a book she had borrowed, and Josie even told her she looked good wearing her new glasses. Josie had said though that she hadn’t realized that Madison’s eyes were that bad, so Madison knew that her glasses looked strong.

Madison dreaded the next day at school. But she had told a number of her friends that she had to wear glasses for a while. And some of her friends had gone through the same thing, so they understood. Madison had broken up with Daniel at the end of the previous school year because Daniel was going away to College. She had not found another steady boyfriend, and if the truth be known she hadn’t even really looked, as she knew she was going to be going away to university the year after next herself, and there were no guys around that interested her enough to go steady with any of them. So she wasn’t worried about any guys giving her a hard time about her having to wear strong glasses.

There was a bit of a fuss when everyone saw Madison wearing glasses for the first time, but it wasn’t any more than Madison had expected. By the end of that first day her glasses became an accepted part of her. She wasn’t as happy with her vision through the lenses of the glasses, because things just didn’t seem as crisp and clear, but she felt that she had no other choice.

When October rolled around Madison was again having a hard time seeing distant objects. When she was driving she sometimes had to guess at what the street names were when she was in unfamiliar territory so she knew that another increase in her prescription was going to be a necessity. She had been back to the doctor after 3 months, and was disappointed that the doctor had not allowed her to go back to wearing contacts, but now after 6 months without wearing contacts she really hoped that she could go back to them.

This time at the doctors there was a lot more "Which one is better? This one? Or this one? It almost made Madison scream ‘Just pick one, because they all look about the same." Finally she settled on one lens for each eye, and when the doctor checked both eyes together things seemed pretty good, so she selected that pair of lenses. She had been given a choice between red and green, and she felt the red was a bit better, so that is the one she went for.

"Can I get contacts again Doctor?" Madison asked.
"I don’t think it would be a good idea yet Madison. When you blink does it sometimes feel like you have something in your left eye?" he asked her.
"Yes, it does. Sometimes it feels like I have an eyelash I there." Madison replied.
"That isn’t an eyelash Madison. It is a little bump on the white of your eye just next to the cornea. Until that little bump goes away I can’t put you back into contacts, as that is right where the lens would sit on your eye. Whenever you feel that there is something in your eye it is because that bump is slightly inflamed. Wearing contacts would just make it worse," the doctor said.
"When will it clear up Doctor?" Madison asked.
"I was hoping it would have been gone by now. There is no way of telling if, or when it will go. I can’t cut it away, because it is likely scar tissue from the damage your contacts did to your eye, and if I try to remove it, it will come back as even a bigger scar," he replied.
"Does this mean I might never be able to wear contacts again?" Madison asked with tears in her eyes.
"That is a possibility, but we won’t give up just yet," he said.

Madison went out to see the optician, clutching the prescription slip the doctor had given her in her hand. She was so upset with the news he had given her that she hadn’t even looked at what he had written. The usual lady was not there, and the replacement optician looked at the prescription. She took out Madison’s file and remarked that there had been quite a change this time.

"What do you mean?" Madison asked.
"You have jumped from -11.25D up to -13.50D. That is an increase of -2.25D," she replied.
"Wow, I didn’t realize it was that much. Can I get any thinner lenses than I did last time?" Madison asked,
‘No, you have the thinnest lenses we can get in plastic. There is a glass lens that is a bit thinner, but it is heavier to wear," she answered.

The optician helped Madison select another frame. The best frame for her prescription was again a rectangular plastic with wide temples, but this time Madison selected a frame with red and black on it instead of all black. She was resigned to the fact that her new glasses would look even thicker and stronger than her old ones had. But when they came in, and she put them on she could see fairly well again, so she was as happy as she could be about that. She let the optician send her old glasses away to be made into sunglasses, as Madison had found that clip on sunglasses not only didn’t look cool, but they were a pain to wear. The optician suggested that for her sunglasses she could choose a cheaper lens, and even if they ended up thicker no one would really notice because of the dark tint, so Madison agreed. When she saw them for the first time she was a little taken aback at how thick they actually were, but she did agree that the dark tint and the wide temples hid most of the thickness.

Madison went back in April for another exam, and while she still didn’t get the doctor’s approval to go back to wearing contacts she was happy that her prescription hadn’t jumped again. She would be starting University in September, and she thought her glasses were as thick as she wanted them to ever be, especially when there was going to be a new crop of guys around.

Knowing that Madison would probably not want to come home for her usual eye exam in October Madison’s mom had gone ahead and set up another appointment for her at the end of August. Madison protested, but to no avail, and she was back sitting in the examining room. The doctor slid the phoropter in front of her eyes, and selected the first set of lenses. Madison struggled to try to read the line of letters that were projected on the wall, but she was only guessing, and when he changed the lenses a couple of times she could see that her guesses had been all wrong. Then he put an even smaller group of letters up, and he had to change the lenses again. Finally he was satisfied, but Madison wasn’t too happy when he told her that she still couldn’t go back to wearing contacts.

This time Madison looked at her newest prescription as she walked down the corridor to the opticians. That wasn’t too bad she thought. Her prescription had only jumped -0.75D in each eye to -14.25D. She again selected new frames for her clear glasses, but she left her old sunglasses to have new lenses put in them at the same time. This way both pairs would be ready before she had to leave for university.

Madison was now beginning to realize that she might be stuck wearing glasses for the rest of her life. She had asked the doctor about eye surgery, and he had told her that she would not be a good candidate even if her eyes quit getting worse. Her prescription was too strong for laser surgery. And he told her that lens implant surgery was not without problems either, so he advised Madison to just wear her glasses as long as they corrected her properly. She didn’t like it, but she realized that she had to.

Madison walked around the campus checking out the university grounds. She was in a dormitory room with 4 other girls. Each girl had their own bedroom, but the kitchen and the sitting area were common rooms. She liked the setup, and was glad that she had chosen to stay on campus at least for her first year. She glanced at anyone she saw wearing glasses, but there wasn’t another person who wore glasses that were as strong and thick as hers were. She felt a little depressed. No guy would even look at her with such strong glasses.

A few weeks after class started Madison couldn’t believe what was going on. She had 3 guys chasing after her. And each one of them had told her that she looked great wearing glasses. Maybe she might be able to find someone who could accept the fact that she needed strong glasses after all. There might just be life after contacts after all.

September 2011

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