Severe Myopia is not a Party
Last summer, I ended up at a barbecue in an unfamiliar city by invitation of a friend of a friend. I had, at the time, severe myopia (nearsightedness)—I could see objects clearly only within a couple of feet; beyond that, my vision became progressively worse. My contacts were irritating my eyes, so I decided to play it safe and wear glasses.
When I arrived, my one acquaintance was nowhere in sight. I walked around, making small talk with strangers, then headed to a cooler across the lawn to grab a drink. As I leaned down to extract a lemonade, another guest’s hand caught my glasses and knocked them from my face and into the cooler. I laughed, he apologized, and I retrieved my glasses and returned them to the naked bridge of my nose; but now the man’s face was only partially in focus—I had lost a lens.
I bent down to search, and the man stooped to help. We were not successful; it turned out that glass lenses look like ice cubes and probably don’t feel that different when your hands are numb from fumbling around in ice water. We became the biggest attraction of the barbecue, captivating quite a crowd of officious spectators, from which one person inquired, “Hey, did you try looking under the cooler?” I gave up, with assurances from the hostess (who was undoubtedly wondering who I was and what I was doing in her yard) that we would find it later—when all the ice had melted.
And so began what may have been the most socially awkward experience that I have endured since junior high. I had, as I mentioned, severe myopia, so my uncorrected right eye was practically useless. People in the left side of my field of vision had no depth. Is that woman very small, or simply far away? Outside the field of the left eye, anything more than two feet away became a blob of color. I mistook a particularly portly man in a dark shirt for the grill. Outdoor parties inevitably inspire people to form circles; whenever someone to my right spoke, I would need to rotate my head a full 90 degrees to see the speaker. Participating in conversations felt like watching a tennis match.
I am not the most comfortable person at parties where I know no one to begin with; this was unimaginably worse. Half of the time, I could not tell for certain whether people were looking at me, and I constantly felt the need to explain my antics to newcomers. Yes, I know my glasses have only one lens; normally, they have two; it’s in the cooler, with the ice.
That fall I got LASIK. The fiasco at the barbecue was not my sole inspiration, but it helped with my decision. If you have severe myopia (or any other common refractive vision error), try a free consultation. LASIK just might save the party.