All the better to see you with, my dear


My first personal experience with bad eyesight and, therefore, the need for glasses came in the early weeks of January 1962 while I was in the fifth grade.

Like most everyone else at the age of 10 or 11, I never realized I had anything wrong with my ability to see clearly. As far as I knew, my vision was as good as anyone else’s.

Instead of looking at myself as the one with the problem, I just thought my teacher’s handwriting on the green chalkboard was getting lighter. Maybe her age (she was close to retirement age which, to this tweener, was old — these days, my opinion of age has changed as I’ve gotten older).

And not only was the chalk getting harder to read, it was somehow getting fuzzier. How, I don’t know, but it was more difficult for me to copy down our homework assignments.

To compensate for this problem, I devised a couple of methods to counteract this seeing problem.

First, I would hold my eyes open without blinking for as long as I could. Within a few seconds, my eyes would tear up and I’d squint, causing the clear liquid to slightly magnify the writing on the chalkboard, enabling me to copy down a few lines.

Granted, I had limited success doing this but it worked for a while — and it was discreet; no one had any notion I was struggling.

Soon I made up a second method, but it was more detectable by my classmates and the teacher. I put the thumb and forefinger of my left hand together (fingerprint to fingerprint); then I did the same thing with the right hand.

Once I’d accomplished this, I brought the two sets of fingers together, creating a diamond space in the middle. I could then narrow the space between the thumb-finger combinations, producing a somewhat useful — and clear — image of the writing on the board.


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