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Nina Bahadur Headshot

The Very, Very Real Struggles Of Having Very, Very Bad Eyes

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My glasses prescription is a fun party trick to reveal: -12 in one eye, -13 in the other.

Cue the gasps.

I almost always wear glasses, so the next question is, "Why don't you have contacts? Do they make those strong enough?"

They do make them strong enough, and I do own contact lenses -- as of one year ago. I just prefer wearing glasses. This is, apparently, a controversial statement.

glasses

From what I've gleaned, from people's reactions, TV shows, and everyday observations, I'm not supposed to like wearing glasses or feel confident or pretty with them on. We think of glasses as nerdy-looking or unattractive (even though surveys show that the opposite might actually be true), or something you wear when you're really tired or can't be bothered to dress up. The same does not go for men. "Smart" and "nerdy" dudes in glasses are apparently very sexy.

In college, I had my glasses on all the time. I wore glasses to formals, in a cappella performances, on the beach. (I took them off for yoga class, which means I learned to do half moon virtually blind. It was difficult.) And nearly ever time I was dressed up but also had glasses on, someone would ask me, "Don't you have contacts?"

glasses

I didn't. I tried to purchase some when I was 15, but I couldn't put them in my eyes (because touching one's eyeballs for the first time is slimy and confusing and generally terrible), so the shop wouldn't sell me any. I didn't really try again. And honestly, it was hard for me to imagine my face without glasses on it. I'd worn them constantly since the age of seven, all day, every day -- so walking around without the reassuring weight of them felt weird. Plus, I was convinced my eyes were sunken and should therefore be hidden by a layer of glass and appropriately thick plastic rims.

glasses

One thing I will say for contacts: they don't advertise to the world that you have terrible vision the way glasses do. Here are 11 things anyone else with really bad eyesight (and I mean can't see what's going on five inches from your face eyesight) will understand:

1. The panicked first minute of the morning when you can't find your glasses on the nightstand and knock over your water glass while groping around frantically.

2. When everyone tells you about Warby Parker, but they don't go beyond a -10. Thanks for nothing, hipster specs.

3. "How many fingers am I holding up?" (Over and over and over again.)

4. Being told to eat carrots, because they'll "make you see better." I hate to break it to you: They won't.

5. "Are you legally blind?"

6. Picking out the perfect frames, only to learn they cost $400 -- BEFORE the lenses.

7. "Oh my God, my eyes are so bad too! They're like a minus three!" Sorry, those with minor- to moderately-blurry vision, you're just not that special.

8. Being told you might need to wear reading glasses WITH your contacts. Come on, world.

9. "You should get LASIK!"

10. "My mom's friend's cousin's daughter's babysitter got LASIK and now she's blind."

11. People who try your glasses on "for fun" and then talk about how they can't see anything and how totally crazy is that? Yeah. Crazy. Now give them back.