I Believe This Is What You Call A Rite Of Passage

I was in 6th grade when I got glasses for the first time. There was a vision screening at school, and even though I knew I’d been having trouble seeing the board, I did NOT want glasses. So I tried my hardest to listen to everyone in front of me in the screening line and memorize the letters on the chart. Unfortunately, when it was my turn, the lady who was administering the test asked me to read the letters backwards. I was not anticipating that particular hitch in my vision test giddyup, so I left the testing room in tears – and with a referral for an appointment with an eye doctor.

About two weeks later I picked up my first pair of glasses, and the main thing I remember is walking outside the eye doctor’s office, looking up at the sky, and saying, “MAMA! THE LEAVES!” I had no idea that I’d been missing all the crispness and definition and color that the nature had to offer, and for the next week or so I walked around thinking, Well. Would you look at that. Football games were the biggest revelation of all – because I could clearly see the numbers and the names on the backs of the jerseys. It was spectacular.

My prescription has basically stayed the same over the last three decades, and I’ve been a consistent contact lens wearer since I was 14. I feel like a little bit of a pro when it comes to being nearsighted, and my check-ups at the eye doctor are typically a pretty routine affair (save an unfortunate run-in back in 2004 with an eye doctor who jacked up my prescription real good). About five years ago, though, my eye doctor started asking me if I was having any trouble seeing up close, and I couldn’t say “no” fast enough. I WAS READING JUST FINE, THANK YOU. She assured me that I probably had a few more years before I noticed a difference – something about nearsighted people not losing their up-close vision quite as quickly.

Sometime last fall, though, I noticed that the up-close stuff was just a smidge blurry. Just the tiniest bit. Initially I thought that maybe my contacts were dirty, so I took them out, and while it helped, there was no denying that I was stretching out my arm a little more when I needed to read fine print. I was usually okay if I was reading a book, but if I was looking at the dosage instructions on the side of a medicine bottle, for example – well, let’s just say that it was a challenge. I love denial in all its forms, though, so I just told myself that I didn’t know why in the world those pharmaceutical companies had started using such a small font.

The nerve.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the eye doctor for a check-up, and after all the initial questions and tests and whatnot, the technician pulled out a piece of card stock with some words printed on it and said, “So. Are you having any trouble seeing up close?”

And listen. Nobody’s ever played it cooler than I did in that moment. “Nooooooo,” I answered. “I’m doing great. Still reading just fine!”

“Good,” she replied, holding the piece of paper in front of me. “Would you mind telling me what you see on the very bottom line?”



So I looked at the words, and I tried my best to decipher them. I really did. But it was like I was in 6th grade all over again, still wishing that someone was in line in front of me so that I could try to memorize whatever they said. I could make out bits and pieces of the words, but as I bumbled my way through those three lines of text, I basically ended up crafting a lovely little short story about a girl in a pretty green bonnet.

For the record, I’m fairly certain that the words “girl,” “green,” and “bonnet” were nowhere even remotely near that piece of paper.

The doctor sympathized when she read the technician’s notes, and she told me that I was officially at +1.0 level as far as up close reading. She made an adjustment to my contacts prescription, hoping that it might give me a little bit of a boost when I read, but I am here to tell you that it did not make one iota of difference. She said that I could move to “progressive” eyeglasses, which are apparently the step before bifocals, or – HELLO, 40s – I could pick up a pair of reading glasses if not being able to read fine print really started to bug me.

Oh, I was bound and determined that the not being able to read fine print would not bug me. It would not beat me, and it would not bug me.

Last night, however, I was at Walgreens, trying to make sure a certain kind of lipstick didn’t have an ingredient that seems to aggravate my skin, and when I finally found the ingredients on the side of the tube and figured out how to open them, I had to work like the dickens to focus and cipher what in the sam hill those blurry letters were saying. I stretched my arm out as far as I could, then tried to prop up the lipstick and then back off from it a little bit, but it didn’t help. Still blurry. So do you know what I did? I marched right over to the Foster Grant display at the edge of the pharmacy and borrowed a pair of reading glasses so that I could see what I needed to see. Those glasses worked like a charm, I might add.

And when I walked out of the Walgreens, I knew that the list of lipstick ingredients had ushered in a brand new component to my status as a 40-something – whether I liked it or not.

Which is why I spent some time trying on these at Steinmart today.

And why I brought a new friend home with me.

I bought some +1.0 sunglasses, too. No sense sitting by the pool and trying to read a book with my arm stretched all the way out to Louisiana, you know?

So that’s my big development of the day. I surrendered to the inevitable. With only the tiniest little bit of kicking and screaming. I’ve been wearing the readers while I’ve been on the computer tonight, and HAVE MERCY the words on this screen are crystal clear now.

I’m bet it’s just a coincidence.


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  1. OMG …you always totally crack me up right before I head off to bed!! Thanks for always making me forget the worldly troubles of the day and sending me to La La land in a jolly ole’ mood!!

  2. I have worn bifocals since I was 2.5 years old. Please, do not feel old. When they are needed, they are needed. I know most folks dread glasses –especially reading glasses — but when I see them, I see beauty. And Clark Kent. He was my first love as a wee little girl, because Superman wore glasses to conceal his secret identity. Those chunky, pink plastic frames in 1984 hid my secret identity, too. All these years later, my glasses do. ;-) Enjoy reading with clarity!

    P.S. My 5 year old daughter has reading glasses, too. She has 2 pairs: brown with leopard print on the inside and burgundy with zebra print on the inside. So much fun!!

  3. I do love your stories!
    I remember going through that, only in my haste ( and ignorance), I bought readers that were very cute, but twice as strong as I needed. Did not know about that little number on the side…. Until I went to the eye dr., sure that something was terribly wrong, and he explained it to me. ( oh! No wonder I can’t wear those without feeling sick!)

  4. Congratulations on your rite of passage! :) I, too, was near-sighted for years and was a constant contact-lens wearer. One day I went to write a check and COULD NOT see. That was a reality-check for me. The bright side? My distance vision improved. After going through some transition time, I am now in multi-vision contacts. It took a bit to get used to them, and I still have cheaters for really small print or quilting.

    On a positive note – you can get some really cute cheaters, and they aren’t that expensive. Get more than one pair!

  5. I’ve been in glasses since 5th grade, contacts since 10th (I’m 48 now). Less than a month ago, I got my first progressive (bifocal) glasses and switched from gas perm contacts to extended wear soft (single vision). This means I wear a pair of “cheaters” around my neck at all times. I can’t read my iPhone without them, and even the computer is a bit blurry. I’m actually kind of excited… now when folks want to know what to get me for a gift, I can tell them funky reading glasses and beaded glass chains (there are some beautiful ones on Etsy).

  6. My story of glasses is the same as yours, even to noticing trees have leaves when I left the store. I am 49-teetering-on-50 right now and have progressive lenses in my glasses (my contact years ended with dry eyes that can’t seem to handle them anymore) and love them. Cute pair of readers, by the way.

    • I turn 50 in a week; and after being in denial for a while, I had to admit that I’m can’t see distances anymore–especially at night–and I went to the eye doctor. My prescription isn’t too strong, but I definitely need them for driving, movies, tv, etc. I still can see close okay, but the doctor said I’m at the edge of needing reading glasses too. So it looks like within a year or so I will have gone from never wearing glasses to wearing them practically all the time. I am so bummed out. I take great pride and looking and feeling younger than my age, so this is a blow to my ego. I’m trying really, really hard to be okay with it but I’m feeling really old and unattractive. I’ve had the glasses for a week, and I’m too embarrassed to wear them in public. I’m going out tonight with a guy I just started seeing. I told him I was getting glasses, and he said it’s no big deal; but I am so worried that he won’t like how I look. Am I 50 or 14? LOL.

  7. Welcome to the club! I just joined about a month ago with +1.0 readers to do my cross stitch. Do not need to use them to read just yet but oh my, has it made a difference in stitching! I can sympathize with your feelings on the day you had to wear glasses. Mine was in the 3rd grade (probably should have been 2nd grade but played the denial game well). Felt like I was sporting the biggest goggles ever made. Made the jump to contacts lenses in middle school but early thirties found myself having trouble wearing them. Nothing helped. So I made the decision to have the eyes lasered. Best $$ I’ve ever spent! I was warned that after 10 years there might be a vision change and so after 13 years, I can tell that my vision isn’t crisp anymore (darn that age thing!!). Not bad enough that I need glasses or contacts again right now but it won’t be long. :(

  8. I am right there with you BooMama. I’m still wearing my contacts, but have to have the readers for anything small. At least they make really cute ones now!

  9. Yes! The leaves on the trees! That’s exactly what I noticed first when I got glasses in the sixth grade. I just thought trees were blobby, just like how I had always drawn them. :) It was a REVELATION to see each individual leaf. A wonder.

  10. The “leaves” revelation was mine, too! I couldn’t believe that other people had been able to see leaves all along, and no one bothered to tell me that I should be seeing them, too!

  11. That’s hilarious! My mom realized that I needed glasses when I put hers on and said, “mom! Look at the leaves on the trees!” It’s amazing how just being able to see leaves was exciting…

  12. Sassy!

  13. Happens to the best of us! Could so relate. My discovery of needing glasses and how blind I really was, happened at the age of 5 in 1st grade. After the disaster test at school, it was off to the Eye Dr for me. I was so excited to get my first pair! Silverish cat-eye frames that were so chic and in-style! Then a week later when we picked them up, after being amazed at what others could see, I cried all the way home because I HAVE TO WEAR GLASSES!! By the time the need for bifocals hit, the Hubs and I were on a driving trip and I swear overnight I could no longer read the map with my contacts in (well, he’ll tell you I never could, but that’s another story) Sigh. At least now the cheaters are cute and bifocals don’t have lines; so we can pick out pretty frames. I hear cat eyes are coming back. ;)

  14. I, too, discovered leaves and football jersey numbers as a child when I got glasses! Such an amazing discovery.

    I went to bifocals before my fortieth birthday and after a few years moved to no line progressive lenses. Couldn’t get by without them.

    However, the teeny print on medicine bottles? Totally getting smaller and smaller. Must be a cost saving measure:)

  15. Not too long ago I put a book on reserve at the library and when I went to pick it up, I opened it to find out I had accidentally reserved the large-print edition. My first thought was, “Wow, this is just so pleasant to read!” and my second thought was “NOOOOO!” :)

    I’m quite sure you will easily work the reading glasses into your fashionable-accessories repertoire!

  16. Thank you for that! I needed a laugh today, and that did it! My mother in law put a pair of purple reading glasses from Dollar Tree in my Christmas stocking this year. (I had mentioned not being able to read the medicine bottles up close.) She begged me not to be offended. I wasn’t. Those purple glasses have changed my life!

  17. Seems like we all have lots of company in the “LEAVES!” department! That’s what I noticed in 3rd grade after getting my first pair of glasses, too. :)

  18. Too funny. I work in the eyecare industry so this made me laugh so much! Progressives are not bad! They are really nice. Transitions are too.

    And, there are a TON of super cute (and awesome) readers out there.
    Welcome to the fun club! As if you weren’t in that club already!

  19. Just wanted you to know that you brighten up my day every time I read.

  20. I have been looking forward to cute reading glasses for a long time! I got them last spring and I had a blast picking them out with the help of a good friend. Now I am looking for cute chain to hang around my neck! :)

  21. Just want to say that the writing on the back of those medicine bottles IS getting smaller it IS NOT my 42 year old eyes that are failing.

    Darnit I was hoping that was the case but since reading (while squinting) all the comments that perhaps it may, might possibly be my eyes.

  22. Melanie M says:

    When my eye dr told me the muscle in our eyes that helps us transition from seeing near to seeing far (like reading the newspaper and then looking up at the tv) is at it’s peak when we are 13 (!), I was shocked. Really, Lord? My best vision was when I was too young to appreciate it? I went kicking and screaming into wearing readers and would only wear them in front of my circle of trust friends. Three years later, I care less about what “they” think and more about not getting a headache from blurry vision. I do like the ones you picked out…very fun! Welcome to the club!

  23. My 8th grade self had the same revelation about leaves and grass when I got my first pair of glasses-the depth and detail I had been missing blew me away. I just had my contact lense prescription changed for the first time since I was 27 and that has been 30 years ago. It did help with my close up reading but I still need readers for the fine print. Charming Charlies also has a great selection of fashionable readers. Now, if I could just keep up with them–but I am not getting one of those chain things to put them on and wear around my neck. So, I now have multiple pairs in different rooms in the house and several pairs at work.

  24. I haven’t told ANYONE my secret yet…I get my super cute readers at Michael’s!!
    They have the cutest patterns and they are about $3. They change them up alot so if you find some you like, get a couple of pairs.

  25. Now, the readers are so cute, who minds wearing them? Don’t worry, youngster, you’ll get used to it, and look really cute in the meantime! Love to you!

  26. If it helps any at all, I’m 31 & had to start wearing reading glasses right about the time I turned 30. It was awesome. And, yup- I wear my contacts for my near-sightedness too!

  27. totally remember commenting on the leaves when I got my first pair of glasses in the 5th grade!

    And I think the fact that we’ve been wearing glasses all our lives and now will need readers as well, is a little insult to injury type of thing.
    BOO to you 40’s !!!

  28. I remember seeing leaves for the first time, too! I was in the 4th grade. I have worn contact lenses since I was 15. Oh, Boomama……I remember THE eye exam, too. I was so afraid that something was wrong with my sight because I had such difficulty changing my focus from reading the newspaper to watching TV. It would take 3-4 seconds (and a lot of squinting) to focus on almost everything with print. Well, my doc started the conversation with…”you’re 40, now, aren’t you?” My response was “I knew the “A” word (age) would come up!” I started out with 1.50 readers. Just recently, I’ve had to increase to 2.0. I have them EVERYWHERE…..the computer desk, end table, KITCHEN (can’t read some directions/recipes), my desk at work, my purse, and a skinny pair in the saddlebag on our Harley. Thank goodness, they have such cute ones! BTW, I LOVE your new ones! It bothered me, at first, to have to wear contact lenses and readers. I thought, “Maybe I should be picking out a puppy for a seeing-eye dog”. But, at 53, I’m grateful to not have a more serious health issue.

  29. Your stories crack me up! I was just telling a friend how nerved out I get when the eye doctor asks me to read all those tiny letters on the chart – like it’s a test or something. And how I feel so silly when I get the “answer” wrong. She said that was a great example of my perfectionism hard at work. Ha! So maybe you’re not in denial after all, just a perfectionist!

  30. I fought getting the reading glasses too but when I finally got an Iphone last year and could not ready I decided it was time.

    But here is a hint, you will probably need about 4 more pairs of those cute reading glasses, if you are anything like me. I need a pair in about 5 different places so I don’t have to keep using them. Yes I know that make cute things so you can wear them around your neck but since the freshman girls in my small group already call them my old lady glasses I am not going to wear them around me neck, at least not yet.

  31. I love your blog. Makes me feel so normal!! And if I’m not, there’s a lot of us abnormals out there and that in itself is comforting.

    I probably need to go to the eye doctor. Haven’t been since we moved to the ‘Ham in 2008. Ummm. Now that I see that in print – blurry though it may be – I definitely need to go! Do you mind sharing your doctor info?

  32. Terrie Cash says:

    Hi BooMama! I feel your pain beyond laughter. At the sweet age of 45 I was told I needed reading glasses. I bragged so much that I had made it to 45 just needing reading glasses and the Lord obviously didn’t like my prideful attitude. The next year I was given “progressive” lenses. No more comments from me about eye glasses and age.

  33. I started wearing glasses in about the sixth grade, too. I’ll never forget my first pair. They were red plaid! My mother didn’t want me to get them because they wouldn’t “match” anything, but the optometrist told her I was the one who had to wear them and I should be able to pick what I wanted. I’m probably one of the few people who likes glasses and look forward to getting new frames each year. In fact just today I bought a pair of Kate Spade sunglasses (which I’ll have prescription lenses put in) at Nordstrom Rack for $59 that were regularly $165. I’ve long been in the bifocal stage, but with progressive/blended lenses no one but me knows. All this to say, you did the right thing by buying those cute readers.

  34. Jennifer says:

    But guess what? Now you can do that super cool writer move where you take off your reading glasses, put them in the corner of your mouth, and look very pensive. This will come in handy on your book tour. :)

  35. Heavy sigh. The reading glasses. The bane of my existence. I’m up to a 1.5 now, and have a pair strategically stashed in nearly every part of the house. AND I KNOW WHEN SOMEONE HAS MOVED THEM. I draw the line at wearing the eyeglass holder thingie (technical term) around my neck. I. Am. Not. Vain. It just doesn’t go with what I’m wearing. Ever.

  36. Those are sassy! Cute color.

  37. Who knew that the trees having leaves again was so universal? Reportedly, that is the first thing I noticed on the way home with my new glasses the summer before 4th grade (according to my mom–I don’t remember it). My husband remembers noticing the same thing when he got glasses in high school. The first thing my oldest son said upon leaving the eye doctor was that he could see the leaves on the trees. My middle son just got glasses, and his prescription is slight enough that I wondered if we had made the right choice to go ahead with glasses rather than wait a year, as the doctor had said we could. Sure enough, as we walked to the car with him wearing his new glasses, he said, “I can see the leaves on the trees.” That was enough to convince me we had made the right choice.

  38. Jennifer says:

    As a nurse…all nurses know when you cannot see the bevel on the needle its time for “readers”. So I hit the Dollar Tree and the 1.0s were great…. so great I tried the 1.5s….so clear…. I bumped to the 2.0 and that was perfect. Now I can see bevel and all when starting an IV…lucky patients !

  39. Welcome! I just bumped up to a 2.0!!

  40. Welcome to the club, Boo Mama! The night sweats could be the next step of initiation to the 40-somethings, and those…well…those are just plain fun! ;0)

  41. Nelson's Mama says:

    The rule of life is: The cuter the cheaters and the more you pay for them – the faster you lose them!

    I buy them at Dollar Tree as someone suggested, also buy them in a three pack/six pack at Wal Mart! I spend untold amounts of time searching for the crazy things…

    You can also find cheater sunglasses if you look hard :)

  42. Kristi Skipper says:

    I fear the day I have to wear reading glasses, because I, too, have worn contacts for years and just don’t like glasses. But, when that day comes, I will do exactly what you did – go out and buy the cutest reading glasses I can find! (If you’re going to have to wear glasses, they should at least be cute!)

  43. Oh girl! I am an eye doctor and if your perscription is in a certian range you can get multifocal contact lenses! My patients love them! No need for readers with these great mutifocal contact lenses! There are some great brands ask your doctor about them! My favorites are Air Optix Multifocal by Ciba, Biofinity Multifocal by Cooper Vision and Acuvue for Presbyopia by Vistakon!


  44. Dreading the day my forty something self has to do this. But, praise the Lord for more choices in glasses these days! I got my first glasses in third grade, brown to “match my hair” my mama said. We added a gold A for spunk! (After we both cried at the eye doctor!) The next pair were blue, yes, to match my eyes. This time, a silver A. The choices were pretty much brown, blue or black “back then”. Two of my four kids need glasses so far and it’s almost fun to pick out the frames.

  45. Mary Feagley says:

    You are NOT alone! Hang in there!

  46. JennyJoT says:

    Just a little tip for you – buy SEVERAL pair of cheapo readers at a Dollar Tree or its equivalent. Then you can put one pair in each vehicle, one on your nightstand, etc. Saves you a LOT of running around searching for your good ones.

  47. I agree with Dawn who posted about needing several pairs. I have reading glasses strewn all over this house. A pair on the bookcase next to my recliner, a pair on my desk next to the computer, a pair in the bathroom, a pair in my purse, a pair in my iPad case, a pair in my knitting bag, a couple of spare pairs in my desk drawer… Also, at the suggestion of my eye doctor, I keep a stronger pair (my daily readers are 1.00, this one is 1.75) with my first aid supplies so I’m prepared for splinter removal on the children.

  48. Oh Boo Mama! I just love you! You’re a couple of years ahead of me, and I tell you what, it’s like have a couple of big sisters paving the way with you and Big Mama blogging about what’s to come in the life of this Mama. And you do it and make me smile all the while. Love it!

  49. I too have been noticing a change in my vision. I was surprised that nothing came up on my recent check-up. But I don’t WANT to go to bifocals!

  50. Oh, girl, embrace the readers. A relative of mine –who might or might not, but probably most likely is my mother– probably has 25 pair to go with every possible outfit in her closet. It’s really quite impressive. Embrace your newest, and most functional, fashion accessory!

  51. I have a pair of Dollar Store glasses in every room of the house……..I can still read a book without them but there are many many many other things I cannot read

  52. Oh – the memories! I was a cheerleader for 8th grade basketball – I couldn’t figure out how everyone else knew that was Jim with the ball! When I got glasses later that year, I finally figured it out. I thought everyone saw the world the way I had Before Glasses.

  53. I love the glasses! Glasses are so helpful to wear while reading. I hope you enjoyed glasses-shopping.