Glasses v. Contact Lenses

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Eyechart through glasses, Kettle Mag, Lauren Allen
Flickr / Ken Teegardin
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Four Eyes. Specky. Sir Specs-A-Lot. I have been called all of these on numerous occasions since I started wearing glasses at the age of five. This was the early 2000s, so it’s not hard to imagine how awful and gawky a lanky redhead looked in a pair of specs. Fast forward six years to when I got my first pair of contact lenses at 11-years-old, and this opened up a whole new world that I hadn’t experienced before. I could do cartwheels in the playground without the dinner ladies running over to warn me about falling and breaking my glasses. I could dance on stage for my dance school and actually see who was in the audience. But with the option of either glasses or contact lenses came a myriad of pros and cons for both. So with ten years of experience under my belt, I’ve listed the upsides and downsides of having options to deal with the most common impairment of them all.

Glasses: PROS

MORE CHOICE: There’s now so much more choice than the typical ‘NHS specs’ style that little kids like me had to put up with if we had a glimmer of hope in reading the blackboard. Cat-eye, Rayban style, round, square, pastel, brights, matte black. THESE OPTIONS WERE NOT AVAILABLE TO ME. Instead I had to put up with this:

 Nice, huh?

ALTER-EGO:  With the likes of Justin Timberlake and Emma Watson rocking their specs on the red carpet, wearing glasses has become a whole lot cooler. As an adult, I love my glasses, but as a child wearing glasses was just about the worst thing I had to endure. Now, I get to change how I want to look or portray myself on a daily basis, whether I want to trick people into thinking I’m super smart and professional or if I just need an extra something to hide behind.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Snapchat filters are soooo much more fun with a pair of specs on.

Glasses: CONS

‘CAN I TRY YOUR GLASSES ON?’: No, is the answer to that. No, because you will undoubtedly then proceed to ask me how you look in said glasses … I CAN’T SEE. You’ve taken my vision away and you now exist as a blurry, colourful blob. You probably look like Velma from Scooby-Doo.

SUMMER AND GLASSES DO NOT MIX: This is for two reasons. 1) You can’t wear your glasses and sunglasses at the same time. Yes, there is the option of prescription sunglasses but that means carrying around two pairs of glasses on the off-chance that the British summertime may experience that rarity called ‘the sun’. And I refuse to wear transition lenses. 2) When that mystical ball of fire does make an occasional appearance, it has been known to make you a bit warm and sweaty. A sweaty nose is the Achilles’s Heel of all glasses wearers because it means you spend the entirety of the day prodding your glasses back into place, only to glide down your honker about two minutes later.

Contact Lenses: PROS

Image credit: Flickr / n4i

ADVENTURE TIME: The idea of breaking my glasses makes my stomach feel like a tumble dryer. Rewind to little 8-year-old me cartwheeling through the school field being shouted at by dinnerladies, and this comes as no surprise. With contact lenses, I can go swimming and still be able to see. I can jump out of a plane and not risk my glasses falling into the nearest mud pile. I can go for a run or to the gym without sweaty nose attacking me. I don’t do any of these things, but IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITES!

DON’T BE JELLY: Contact lenses are really weird and should not work but they do (praise the Lords). Essentially, they’re a small piece of jelly-like plastic with some form of visual magic pulsing through them that you have to place directly onto your eyeball. I can’t count the times I’ve been asked by friends if they can watch whilst I put my lenses in. Apparently, it’s amazing. I am also; I am a swift and magnificent magician with my squidgy fake eye skills.

ONIONS: This one is a bit scientific so I had to Google this one. Anyone who only wears glasses or does not need any form of visual aid (and is a fan of onions), will know that cutting onions ready for your dinner can be excruciatingly painful and a breeding ground for your mascara running down your face from all the tears. Contact wearers do not have to experience this horror-show. As I understand it, there are chemicals in the enzymes of the onions which squirt out into the air as you cut into them, and can get into your cornea due to the enzymes now being air-borne. Contact lenses sit in front of the cornea, which is also the part of the eye with the most nerves and therefore lenses block the enzymes from reaching the most sensitive area. Having lenses in our eyes means we produce more tears, meaning that these enzymes are also washed through our tear ducts before they get a chance to cause any irritability. Cool, huh?

Contact Lenses: CONS

NIGHTCLUBS: Dry ice, smoke machines and cigarettes. It’s hard to have a night out without encountering at least one of these beasts. All of these are evil. Upon entering a nightclub, I’m fine for a good two or three hours. Any longer than that, my eyeballs are pretty much crusting over at this point. These works of the devil suck any moisture that may have once existed out of my eyes, thus meaning that my lenses have nothing to keep them moist like they so desperately need to. So my bag contains the essentials when on a night-out: phone, purse, keys – and a teeny bottle of eye drops, transforming me from 21-year-old to 84-year-old in the space of a lipstick.

Image credit: Fabric Nightclub

MIA.: Last October, I went to a wedding and ended up waking up the next morning with my lenses still in, or should I say lens. My left contact lens was perfectly fine sitting there in my eye, albeit a bit dry, but it was still good. My right one, however, appeared to have checked out, but I was pretty sure I could feel it round the back of my eye. This happens quite a lot, people with 20/20 vision, so don’t panic just yet. I did my usual, of closing my eye and swirling my eye lid around a bit to get my eye moving, as usually it will appear in the corner of my eye and I can drag it out, rinse it out, and pop it back in. Suddenly, I couldn’t feel the lens anymore, but it also hadn’t fallen out as I couldn’t see it either on me anywhere or in the bed, which has led me to conclude that I have now had a contact lens in the back of my eye for over six months. Now you can panic.*

*As a fellow contact wearer this was my main worry when I went over to contacts. The optician assured me, " Don't worry about the lens slipping behind the eye - this is impossible." So, get your glasses back on and search harder! :) Ed.

 

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Third year student of English Literature at University of Greenwich. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram below smiley