I come from a family of people where glasses, glaucoma, blindness, color blindness, cataracts, and eye surgeries are reality. To say that my biggest fear is an eye injury or going blind is an understatement. In my mind, eyesight equals freedom. I see color quite vividly, even though I'm severely nearsighted and most of my memories are remembered through the color of my surroundings over how I felt when I experienced them. Visual messages are important to how I interpret the world and I try to make sure I take care of my eyes as best as I can, since genetics have dealt me an interesting deck of visual cards.
I've worn glasses for as long as I could remember. I remember my first pair being red plastic rimmed glasses, with Lucy from the Peanuts engraved on the side arms near the joints. They were awesome but I remember not wanting to wear them, being called "four eyes" is no fun no matter how stylish your specs are.
Moving into middle and high school wire frame glasses were all the rage in the 90s but our insurance at the time allowed for only plastic rims. Still expensive but outdated, I used to dream of the day when I would be able to afford my own glasses. I had plans for my style when I was all grown up. Funny enough I now buy the same large plastic (hipster) frames I wore as a kid and was made fun of for. Funny how fashion changes. For me, contacts were never an option. I hate touching my eyes. As a child I recall my father wearing the glass contact lenses. I'd imagine what would happen if they shattered... it freaked me out.
Being an athlete and being relatively blind was not a great combination. From middle school through college I played "blind". I recall feeling my way around the volleyball and basketball courts. I used my spacial awareness and developed my peripheral vision to a point where I earned double digit assists, steals, and points in many games. Yeh I could've worn rec specs and at times I wore a glasses strap on my plastic frames during games, but it got glasses fog up and they jostle around on the bridge of your nose, so lame. I left my glasses in my locker during games and practices. Playing "blind" was my best choice, though once again I'd fantasize about how much better I would've been had I been able to see.
So when I had kids, I figured that I'd pass some sort of myopia or visual impairment to my children. I mean both my husband and I wear glasses so the odds were in their favor (or not in their favor). I wasn't even shocked when my oldest came home and informed me that she could not see the smart board... (Mind you she brought this information to me at THE END of the school year, like kids do.) So I scheduled an eye doctor appointment for her and her sisters as soon as possible.
I wasn't expecting any good news. In fact we visited Zenni Optical prior to our visit to prepare for their new life. A life filled with pushing frames up by the bridge, wiping hand prints from lenses, and possibly figuring out what to do at special events where photos required a glasses-free face. My middle child asked, "Mom, can you fly planes if you wear glasses". I told her to my knowledge, probably not but we can always check Google. In my mind, I told her to erase the possibility of that dream forever... the cynicism was strong within me.
Our optometrists were amazing and very patient and caring when dealing with the girls. But I wasn't prepared for the news... What a surprise! Two kids had 20/20 vision. When the optometrists said this, I burst into tears in front of them. I couldn't hold it together. Vision was such a problematic part of my life. My poor vision defined a large part of who I was and how I saw myself that it was all I knew and all that I'd expected to share with my kids. My oldest unfortunately did not luck out, she needed glasses, she got her mom's eyes. But fortunately for her, wearing glasses is really cool now. Like it's an accessory that even "seeing" people use to enhance their appearance- go figure. So we went to Zenni Optical, my favorite site for enhancing my sight (nerd humor).
Zenni is great for adult frames. I've bought all of my glasses there after losing a $400 pair of glasses somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. I get lenses and frames for under $30. And to top it off I've gotten so many compliments from glasses I've bought on the site. I'm a self proclaimed evangelist... I've referred people there, the site is amazing. From the wonderful shopping experience to the anticipation of receiving glasses in the mail, I wonder how brick and mortar glasses stores are still in business.
But I learned something new about Zenni. What I didn't know was the selection they had for kids and teens was really impressive! My daughter had the best time picking out her glasses for the upcoming school year. And I promised her that if she didn't lose them, she could buy two more pair for the new year. She's so excited to return for school in the fall with her stylish new specs. And in an era where glasses are "cool", affordable, and even super stylish, I can't help but feel better about the genetic hand I've been dealt and passed on to my kid.
It's really important to provide "organic" experiences by taking your child places that will stimulate their 5 senses.