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Me, Mytopia and I

As I emerged from the hot shower, the room filled with steam and I reached for the towel (hold on this isn’t going where you think it is...)  I retrieved my glasses which I had left on the side of the bath, only to look down at my legs with horror. Instead of seeing the smooth pins of a model as I’d hoped for, I was greeted with what looked like the limbs of an alopecia patient.  There were numerous patches of hair that I’d missed when attempting to shave them because I simply couldn’t see in that much detail. I cursed my parents for passing on their short-sighted genes and despaired at the thought that I couldn’t even maintain a basic level of grooming without some sort of visual aid.

You don’t realise how bad your eyesight actually is before you get your first pair of glasses and see what you’ve been missing, like making the switch to HD! I got my first pair aged 12, and, after being denied braces and envying my cousins glow in the dark train-tracks for years, I thought that finally here was my chance to look really, really  cool. Sadly I have come to realise that glasses are like haircuts, they’re not always so great in retrospect. I can’t help but shudder when I think back to my purple rimmed square lenses that made me bear an almost uncanny resemblance to Eliza Thornberry.

Stats suggest that two thirds of the UK population use corrective glasses or contact lenses.  Their commonness, however, does not prevent children that wear glasses from being inevitably stigmatised as “four-eyed freaks” and of course no ‘geek’ fancy dress costume would be complete without a pair. Irritatingly for me, there is no substantial evidence for a link between poor vision and a high IQ but it does make me wonder, in a world of 6 inch heels and size 0s, how important is it to be Twenty Twenty?

I’m certainly in two minds about my visual defect. It often gives me a lot of grief. Take the perils of wearing glasses for example. They can’t be worn in the rain as water droplets blur your lenses, and although Elton John maybe able to pull off windscreen wipers spectacles I’m not quite so confident. Standard kitchen tasks can be hazardous. Simply opening an oven makes them steam up and losing your sight temporarily whilst handling hot dishes can be dangerous! And let’s not forget the humiliation factor.  Imagine spending an hour crawling on the floor blindly searching for the things that will stop you from being blind, as your boyfriend watches in fits of laughter before casually pointing out that they were on your head the entire time.  Trust me, after that you wouldn’t be so fond of your bifocals.

So what is the solution? The miracle of the contact lens! The best invention since sliced bread and plastic cheese! Right? Wrong.   First of all it takes months to get over the internal instinct NOT to poke your finger into your eyeball and smush it around. False nails? Forget it, unless you’re asking for cataracts. Aeroplanes and trains and anything with intense air conditioning become your sworn enemy, sucking the moisture out of your eyes and causing you burst into a fit of uncontrollable blinking. Also, I cannot count the number times I’ve had to leave a night early, not because I couldn’t handle my drink (although 9 times out of ten that is the case) but because someone doing a crazy disco hand jive has managed to poke out one of my lenses, leaving me blind in one eye and prone to walking in circles! And of course the thing I dread most after a heavy night out...not the embarrassing photos, not the raging hangover, but those nights I pass out with my lenses in and I wake up with my eyes red and swollen and stuck together like I’m suffering from an anaphylactic reaction. Contact lenses are no miracle solution.

 The ultimate answer of course would be laser surgery. It’s an option I have considered, however the staggering £1500 an eye cost does make me hesitate. Not to mention Final Destination 5 style nightmares about the procedure and what could go wrong, and the even more devastating cost of losing your sight. Besides, at times my short-sightedness has proved itself to be rather handy. I have to confess that there are occasions on which I may have purposefully blanked someone and used the excuse of bad eyesight for the reason I just “didn’t see” them! Also, it would appear that frames have become the next big thing in the fashion world. Megan Fox, Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake all rock a pair and high street giants like Topshop are selling clear lensed specs so that those with perfect vision can share in the latest face accessory. I’ve recently invested in some wide lens tortoiseshell ray bans which I feel definitely give me ‘specs appeal’. It always amuses me that, as with haircuts, when people see you in glasses for the first time they have a tendency to state the obvious. “Oh, you wear glasses/oh you’ve had a haircut.” (Really, I wondered what that was on my face/why my head felt lighter). Even the most iconic movie star of our generation, Harry Potter, is a famous four eyes.  So maybe it is crystal clear that unless you have a few thousand lying spare for laser surgery, wearing glasses isn’t so bad after all. 

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