By Annabel Owen


You probably think I’m one of those people who complain about everything but I swear I’m not. I just hate wearing my glasses, they make me feel goofy and my face feel big and heavy and stupid. People say that glasses make you look smarter; but I certainly don’t feel it. My mother would tell me to be thankful that I can still see at all; “At least you’re not completely blind,” she would say, which makes my insides churn with anger because only people with perfect eyesight say things like that. She also says “You’re lucky because you look good in glasses! They suit you, you’re very beautiful yadda yadda yadda,” which is also the kind of thing only your mother says because she has to.

I’m the girl that will just about walk past her own father if I don’t have glasses on. I’m the girl that leans over your desk for the third time like, “What does the third line on the board say?” I’m the girl that will crash into walls because there’s no sense of distance or educated judgement. I’m the girl that regrets reading books at night with only the light of a glitter lamp. You know when you go to get your eyes tested and there’s a big white screen with black letters in different sizes for you to read out? I’m the girl who can literally only see a white screen; no letters, nothing. I see blobs and blurs, and if I’m not in a familiar place then I feel extremely vulnerable.

I think having been born blind would be so much better than if you had the blessing of sight, but lost it later in life. Not that either of those scenarios is desirable, but if you had to choose. Knowing what it was like to see and missing that ability would be worse than never having known it at all. But then again, I’ve never actually asked a blind person their opinion on the topic.

The worst part is; who knows how long my sight was bad for? Was I born with bad sight? Or did it develop over time? When it’s all you’ve ever known, how do you know that there is something wrong?

The first time the idea that I might need glasses was sprung at me was from a bimbo substitute teacher in year 5, who after the fifth time of me asking what the number on the board was, suggested that perhaps I should get my eyes checked. At first I denied it. “No, I’m fine I’m just a bit far back,” I said, and she let me move closer. But after that seed was planted in my mind, it was evident that there was indeed something wrong. I can imagine my parent’s hearts sinking as we sat in the chairs at the optometrist’s, devastated that they never knew. Guilt, fresh and true. I was just happy that I was going to be ‘ fixed’.

I remember clear as day (excuse the pun) the time I put my very first pair of (very daggy) glasses on my face. I was in Garden City shopping centre with my mum and my friend Tia – for moral support of course – and I was nervous. 10 year-old-me wasn’t very con dent, but I shyly slipped the frames onto my face and I couldn’t believe it. I could see people’s faces; their expressions, their wrinkles, the colour of their eyes. I could see the rows of bakery goodies lined up on the counters. I could see the names of the shops and even some of the things inside them, and from such a distance! It was a miracle. I remember coming home and walking outside exclaiming “Mummy I can see the blades of the grass!”

But wearing glasses gets in the way. For a start, peripheral vision is not a thing. Secondly, swimming is a big issue. Carnivals at school were a nightmare, and going to the beach wasn’t really my favourite thing to do. It still isn’t, but that’s got nothing to do with eyesight. Aside from looking lame, wearing them just makes general daily activities all the more dif cult. If you’re not convinced, here’s a list of things you can’t do with glasses on:

• go on carnival rides where you twist upside down

• play sport without a lame “glasses strap” that encourages bullying

• have a shower (I’ve tried, they fog up) • do a cartwheel
• have sex

• wear sunglasses (unless you pay for expensive prescription ones – but I’d rather not)

That’s why I wear contacts pretty much 24/7. I don’t personally know the guy (or girl for that matter) that invented contacts, but I would like to give a special thank you and small applause to that person, because I don’t know what I would do without them. Contacts are literally my saviour, because they make me look and feel like someone with 20/20 vision. Quite phenomenal for someone who can’t even read a book 30 centimetres away from their face.

But if I’m telling secrets; I always feel like I’m cheating myself a little bit; like I’m hiding a huge part of myself away from everybody. I feel utterly shocked when someone looks at me in disbelief on the rare occasions I do wear my glasses and exclaims “You wear glasses!?” like it’s completely ludicrous for me to require visual aid. Being visually impaired is part of who I am, and whether or not I like it; I’m stuck with it.

Having said that, people who wear glasses when they don’t need them have always baffled me. Yeah, baffled. The world is a strange place. When we are young, we long to be old. When we are old, we long to be young. When we are single, we want to be taken. And when we are taken, we want to be single. When I was little, wearing glasses was lame. If you wore glasses you were called names like ‘four eyes’ and ‘nerd’. But now that we are older, even people who don’t need visual aid wear glasses in order to look ‘smart’. I could never quite understand that, being someone who can’t see at all without aid. Why would you wear them if you don’t have to? I guess we always want what we can’t have.

But you know what? I’m someone who has experienced this world in a way that is blurry, scary, and unknown, yet I’ve also been blessed with the ability to see it crystal clear, easily, (only somewhat expensively) and precise. My eyes do not work properly, yet somehow I can still experience sight like a normal human being. I can see the blur, but I can also see the clear. So when I look at something through lenses, whether it be my glasses or my contacts, I fully appreciate, admire, and take in what I’m looking at. I study it, and I smile because I’ve had the pleasure of viewing it. And it’s in that way, that I can see clearer than anybody else.