Through the Looking “Glasses”

“How wonderful the world looks when you have new glasses!” Those were my words as I tried on my new and modified eyeglasses. As I tested each eye individually, covering each eye by my hand and focusing on something by the other, I recalled the routine I was told to follow by my optician, and a whole history of optics and opticians came crashing upon me.

As far as my memory goes, I had my first eye test when I was in the second grade. My parents took us for a collective check up on our eyesight. Mind you that those days we had no computer, no SpaceToon and no MBC 3. We only watched cartoons between 4 and 5 on Syria or/and Amman terrestrial channels and it wasn’t before some yeas later that we had our fist video game, a huge black thing with joysticks called Rambo. The thing had an actual photo on Rambo on it and looked like the hood of a black old Dodge. Yet, I somehow managed to do what my little brother who spends half of his awake time watching TV, playing video games or using the computer didn’t do. I ended up wearing glasses.

I can’t remember much of that first time I went to the optician, taking turns with my brothers doing the eye test, but I vividly remember what the optician said when he first saw me. “This one looks like she needs glasses”. Well, he seemed to know his work very well, but what he didn’t know that I, in my perpetual quest for denial, made a point of memorizing the letters on the eye test board as quickly as I could, leaving him no choice but to announce that there was nothing wrong with my eyes, seeming everything but convinced.

I wasn’t to realize the consequences of my little trick until 3 years later, when a second visit for the optician was called for. This time there was no tricks, and perhaps the only thing I remember was my mother’s worried reaction as the optician told her I had a “lazy eye”, meaning I was longsighted only in the left eye, and that I should’ve been diagnosed earlier. Thankfully, it turned out that it wasn’t as serious as my mother seemed to fear, but I had to see a specialized eye doctor. The optician referred me to Dr. Khaled Abu Al-Ghanam, to whom I’m still grateful until this day.

After I saw the doctor, he explained the situation to me and my parents, told me I needed to wear eyeglasses and said I needed to train the “lazy eye” by covering the other eye with a bandage for at least one hour a day and the whole day on Fridays. Thankfully too, I was a good kid and followed his instructions.

My first glasses had a transparent pink frame and had plastic lenses in order to minimize the damages of any possible acts of clumsiness. Looking back on the “glass” eyeglasses I broke over the years, I think it was a pretty good idea, because if I did that as an adult, there’s no telling what I might have done as a kid.

The first day I went to school wearing my eyeglasses I didn’t feel any embarrassment or need to take them off at class, or so I recall. But I gather that my parents were concerned that I would, when my teacher said something that made it obvious to me that she was instructed to watch me and make sure I don’t take them of. I don’t remember what I answered her but I do remember I was a bit puzzled because I had no reason to take my glasses off. I also remember when I was going home in the school bus, wearing my glasses and thinking that it’s not so bad! Everything looks just fine, I didn’t even feel I was wearing anything over my eyes.

Yet, the thing no one told me and I didn’t realize until I saw a family videotape that dates back to at least 10 years ago, is how funny I looked with my glasses. You see, I had quite a tiny figure that even the eye doctor was shocked when I said I was 10 years old. My face was tiny too, with a rounded shape and an olive-toned skin darkened by the summer sun. So, you can imagine how I looked with a pair of relatively big pink plastic glasses hanging on a relatively small nose. I was like detective Conan, plus the ponytail and minus the big shoes.

Anyway, I’m really grateful I wasn’t aware of my outer appearance back then. 3 years later, when I was around thirteen, I paid my last visit to doctor Khaled, which was the happy ending of a series of visits over those three years, in which he told me that even though my left eye hadn’t completely went to being normal, I no longer needed to wear glasses. Long story short, we went to buy donuts afterwards.

I can’t remember when I was told I needed to wear glasses again but only for reading and such activities. From then until this day I still go to the optician every once on a while for checking up. I hope I’ll pay such visits to an old friend of mine whom I haven’t seen for over 10 years. He’s called the dentist.

Back to the present, with my excessive use of computers and bad sleeping habits, it should’ve been no surprise that my eyesight had deteriorated and that I needed new glasses. Well, I went back to the old lazy-eye training routine, green-tea soothing pads, more sleep, maybe soon I will need new glasses, in sha’a Allah, only with thinner lenses I hope.

Originally Posted on Saturday, October 11, 2008  on


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