Today I’m off to get laser surgery in Florence and I. Am. Freaking. Out. As you can tell from this terrible photograph of me. The facial expression? Anxious meets trying-to-look-pretty-for-the-internet.
Poor eye sight is one of my most defining features. I’m pretty sure I tumbled out of the womb with bad vision.
When I was a kid, my mum would shred me a new one because I couldn’t tell the time on the kitchen clock. Then she realised I couldn’t see the clock hands and, stifling a pretty hefty sense of guilt, took me to the optometrist where I refused to pick a pair of glasses. The shop was closing and I’d already abused the saleswoman by yelling “if you love them so much, why don’t your wear them?” when my mum grabbed the closest pair of kids’ glasses and dragged me home.
They were maroon. I still have them, I think.
On my first day of school with my new specs, my teacher sat me on her lap and told all the other kids not to make fun of me. It was the ’90s and my classmates clearly belonged to some genetic super race because I was the only one with glasses. I was the only non Australian too…
My sports teacher and principal said it was safer for everyone if I participated in sports as little as possible. My hand eye coordination was deplorable, but I still caught plenty of balls… in the face and once I ran into a cricket bat in mid swing.
The years passed and I never made peace with my glasses. It didn’t matter how expensive or sleek or stylish the frame were, I looked like a dweeb and since Seth Cohen hadn’t made being a nerd cool yet, I avoid wearing my glasses. I developed a habit of walking with my eyes glued to the ground. I was so worried someone would see me, wave and I wouldn’t wave back because I couldn’t make out their face.
Then in high school I discovered contact lenses and I was saved. Well, not saved. Almost a decade of poor eye sight has contributed to making me the clumsiest person in existence. I have terrible depth perception. Wearing contacts has only made that worse, so now when I wear my glasses, I constantly miss the bedside table. Hello broken iPhone screen, I’m talking about you. I also still walk with my eyes on the ground. I can’t shake the habit.
A couple of years ago, I ripped a layer of whatever coats my eye bulb off by accident. My contacts had become dry and I had tried moving them. I was at university and had to catch the train home with one eye the size of Quasimodo’s.
I have had countless eye infections. Spent endless hours in the Catch 22 situation of being too blind to see where I left my glasses. I’ve become intimately familiar with what it feels like to have sand in your eyes when you actually don’t. And I can poke myself in the eye without blinking. Every cloud, silver lining, right?
If all goes well, by tomorrow I can throw my glasses, contacts, eye drops, cleaning cloths and sprays at a cat (figuratively of course) and it scares my socks off!
What if I’ve traded a mere inconvenience for real problems? I’ve read that few people end up with 20/20 vision and some people even have to wear lighter contact lenses or glasses afterwards. I can just imagine my eyes saying, “nice try. We’ve gone all these years not doing any work, do you really think we’re going to start working on our own now?”. What if my eyes dry up and I need drops forever and can no longer go outside without sunglasses? What if the giant laser headed for my cornia misses?
On top of all that, I wonder how much of me will change. My self consciousness, my experiences at school and my behaviour in public have been determined by having glasses. I wonder, will I approach the weekend as a confident coordinated sports siren who looks everyone dead in the eye? We’ll just have to find out! Oh goodness!