I Can See Clearly Now: A Memory of My First Glasses

I was eight years old, maybe nine, when I realized what it was like to see. It is a moment imprinted in my memory, as clear as if it happened yesterday.

For a while, I had not been able to see the blackboard in school. Well, I could see it as a blackboard-shaped dark grey thing that I knew was a blackboard. My teacher would write things on it – I could hear the chalk against the board, and listening to her talk and reference things that were supposedly written there. But I couldn’t see it. Instead, I would lean to my left and ask AB, my best friend sitting right next to me, and then write down what she said in my notebook. She was my translator, the interpreter of knowledge.

I remember that, the leaning over and AB whispering to me. And I remember that it never occurred to me to ask for help, or to tell a grown-up that I couldn’t see the blackboard, even though I had previously been able to see it. It just felt normal. I couldn’t see it, but AB could. We were different in so many other ways, so why not this?

My teacher must’ve spoken to me, spoken to my parents, but I remember nothing of it. I don’t remember seeing the eye doctor and getting tested. I have a vague memory of choosing the glasses, but I could have made that up because it’s logical.

What I do remember is bringing my glasses to school, the hard case safely tucked into my schoolbag. I remember feeling very shy about wearing them on in class, leaning forward so my hair would hide what I was doing when I put them on. And then I looked up, towards the front of the class.

And in that moment, everything changed.

I could see the words on the blackboard. Thin white lines made by the chalk as my teacher wrote. I could see. I could see the words on the blackboard. Everything about my life shifted because I could see the words.

It was incredible, amazing, miraculous. There are no words to describe the moment when you can see where before you couldn’t. This little video of a baby seeing 20/20 for the first time. It shows exactly what it’s like.

I remade the gif because unnecessary &quot;many gifs&quot; annoy me. Send your upvotes here because he posted it first but one gif is better for mobiles <a rel="noreferrer nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://imgur.com/gallery/lzjih">http://imgur.com/gallery/lzjih</a>

I have friends who also got glasses when they were children and who tell similar stories. Of realizing that there are leaves on trees, that grass is composed of little individual blades.

Unless you have existed in a world that’s blurred and thought it normal, I don’t think you can imagine the shock and the delight of that moment when your world becomes clear.

I don’t remember ever being shy about wearing my glasses after that first moment. Why would I be — they brought my world into focus.

Did you get glasses as a child? What was your moment of clarity?


Joyce said…
I got my first pair of glasses the summer between first and second grade. I too remember the amazement of realizing there were individual leaves on trees and the whole blades of grass thing. (The grass wasn't quite as amazing, as I spent enough time sitting/lying on the ground to know it wasn't just a fuzzy mass!) :) I wore contacts for years until my allergies made them uncomfortable. Then I had RK surgery (before lasik). Now I'm a bit the other direction...farsighted, so I'm back to glasses. :( I really miss the contact lenses...
Knitika said…
I had congenital cataracts, and I also couldn't see the board. Some teachers would place me at the front of the class, although sometimes I had to get out of my desk and walk closer to actually read what was written. Other teachers paired me with a student who would read the board to me. I had cataract surgery when I was twelve, which at the time meant removing the lenses and, six weeks later after my eyes had healed, correcting the now-atrocious vision with glasses or contacts. I was so happy to get those really thick glasses and finally be able to see right, though the kids at school were delighted for the new reason to tease and mock me. My dad still tells the story the first rainstorm after I got my glasses, when I looked outside and was astonished to see raindrops. "You can SEE rain???" I gasped.
ten said…
Seeing rain, snow... but my best memory my dad engineered for me, by taking my glasses away the first time after I got them that the family drove out to our stargazing spot. He gave them back once we got there, and I finally discovered what the fuss was about. Even with glasses, it was many years before I could see wild animals when he pointed them out - I just never looked in the right place.
Anonymous said…
I don't remember my first pair of glasses...we are a near sighted family so I was probably tested regularly and got them before my vision got too bad. But my prescription was increased twice a year all the way through elementary school. And I do remember the excitement for the clarity on the drive home with my new lenses.

Now I have contacts and reading glasses. If I want to see something small very clearly I take out my contacts and look at it about an inch from my face.

Kaz said…
I was 12 when I first got glasses, which ended I don't know how long of fighting to sit at the front of the classroom because I just could make out what was on the board if I was at the back... I must have been a tad naive, because I was so excited by the glasses, and then getting to school and being called 'four-eyes' - that was a nasty shock... The next nasty shock was about five years ago realising that computer screens and books were beginning to be an issue, and having an optometrist who looked like she was maybe 12 inform my blithely that the deterioration I was experiencing was common with older age groups...she's a bit lucky that she'll have half a chance of getting to an age where she might experience this...I just managed to not thump her. So now I juggle two sets - couldn't come at bifocals yet!!
Anonymous said…
I was 14 when I got my first pair of glasses and remember it like is was yesterday. The world changed that day and became a much clearer place. The first thing I remember is everything on the walls at the opticians coming into perfect focus the instant she put my glasses on me and that she and my mother in an instant looked older! When we walked outside I was absolutely stunned by what I could now see: the leaves moving on the trees, the individual blades of grass and the little flowers on the bushes in the parking lots planters, and actually being able to see the faces of the people who were walking across the street! The most memorable though was the vividness of colors:It was as if I had been transported from a world of monochrome into one of technicolor! Truly amazing!