Back in the 1990s, the fashion store chain Maurice’s had a line of accessories called Authentic Dweebie.
I was quite fond of this non-cool little person with the Coke-bottle glasses, and was a big admirer of eyeglasses in general at that time. When I was a kid, all my grandparents, both my parents and most of my aunts and uncles wore glasses. Both my siblings needed glasses when they were still in elementary school, while my own vision was always 20/20. On the other hand, they had straight teeth whereas mine were all crowded, so I got braces instead.
But getting back to the ’90s … just as nerd glasses are popular now, what my sister called “dweebie glasses” were popular then, and I had a pair of round wire frames that I would wear occasionally to feel, well, simply different than I ordinarily did (I certainly didn’t wear them to make me feel smart–or smarter–because I’ve always been plenty of that).
A couple of years ago, I noticed that reading up close was giving me a headache. I got a pair of 1.25X magnifiers from the grocery store and stashed them in my desk at work for when I had to read large amounts of extremely small copy. I didn’t need them for working at the computer or reading the newspaper or even reading regular copy, not for quite awhile. But gradually, as 40 receded in my rear-view mirror, I found myself pulling out those “cheaters” more and more frequently at work. I got myself a pair for at home because they helped me read in bed at night. I would find myself rubbing my eyes and wishing for my glasses at the breakfast table when I was reading the paper, in the car when I had to read a map (as we know, I’m fond of analog paper products), and of course in restaurants when I was perusing the menu.
Before I knew it, I had six pairs of reading glasses: in my desk at work, on my desk at home, on my nightstand, on the breakfast table, in the car and in my purse. They’re all still 1.25X, which is pretty low magnification, but I realize my vision is changing noticeably from month to month and it won’t be long now before I’ll have to get an eye exam and wear glasses all day long. I used to pull them off the minute I put down the book or the newspaper because I got dizzy if I wore them while walking around. I put them on today to check something on my phone quickly, and realized two hours later as I was puttering around doing housework that I was still wearing them, to no ill effect. In fact, I find that I’m more comfortable when they’re on my face, even though my range of clear vision–formerly about 12 to 16 inches–is still only about 3 feet. Seeing things clearly very up close (6 to 8 inches) now requires a stronger magnification.
I know presbyopia is an almost inevitable part of aging and that there’s certainly no stigma to it, but I must confess: I outgrew my dweebie phase 20 years ago and would be just as happy never to have to wear glasses.