Oh what gruesome sights we see, when first we practice to perceive

I got glasses about the time I was learning to drive. I didn’t have to, because in that state good vision in one eye was good enough to drive. But as I was very nearsighted in my right eye, and to keep the learning experience as safe as possible, I got the glasses and wore them intermittently, mainly for driving.

I didn’t like to wear them all the time. If I wasn’t wearing my glasses I could read the face of a clock two rooms away; my left eye was pretty good. The right eye, uncorrected, could not fairly say that it was a clock at all, but the left eye would supply the necessary visual acuity and life would go on. One of the strangest things about putting on glasses is that I could tell, by a shift in perspective, that my right eye had taken over. I prefer to be right-eye dominant, but for some untold portion of my life my left eye usually prevailed because it could actually see.

I have a tendency to hunch over books that makes librarians and teachers think I am sleeping rather than reading. I think that’s because my right eye wants to be in control and will encourage me to close in on a book until it can focus and be the boss.

My glasses got a severe scratch and one of the nose pads broke off. I suffered with them, or without them, for a while, until I could get another pair on the insurance plan. I got a nice new pair, put them in a case I got off of one of the other vision impaired in the family, and was on my way. When I got in the car and began to drive I pulled the glasses out of the case, only to find them covered with some fine powder that did not wipe away easily, but either streaked or scratched the glass. I chucked them in the other seat in disgust and never saw them again.

The next time I went in for a vision checkup I was prescribed contacts, or more exactly, a contact for my right eye. The doctor assured me I would find this superior. Once I got the hang of sticking something in my eye on purpose (not too hard if the contact stays clean, excruciating if you fumble with it too much and get it in there with too much finger oil on it), it was a more seamless vision improvement. But the insurance was not going to keep up with the number of contacts I would go through with regular use, so I wore them infrequently. In fact, with the whole bother of putting in a contact, I hardly ever wore them.

Lately I have been noticing that I don’t feel very confident with my night vision while driving, and that even in situations where I think my left eye ought to be able to see I can’t see as clearly as I think I should (or other people can). Also, in the state where I now reside, it is not actually legal for me to drive without functional vision through both eyes.

I made an appointment and ordered some glasses, but while I wait for them to come in (I am getting safety lenses), I have been using my contacts more. One day when I put my contact in, I first saw, as I always do, my own face in the mirror, with each little pore sharply defined, each hair standing out like a cable. Things always look harder, sharper, more stark, with my contact in; the world people with good eyesight always inhabit, I suppose. It always seems balanced between marvelous and brutal when I first put in my contact. With my natural vision, I can see my individual hairs and pores when standing in front of the mirror, but the layering of my right eye’s perspective behind what the left eye declares to be actual gives everything a little less definition, a little softness, so that skin looks smoother and hairs blend into the flow. When I put the contact in, the artistry is gone; hair becomes a hair and another hair and another hair.

That’s normal. That’s what always happens when I put in my contact. Then I glanced at my toilet, and found it had gone from just slightly less than clean to graphically dirty. Rather than looking a little smudgy, it had distinct stains and other deritus plainly visible on its surface.

I was taken aback, and also inspired to make up moral analogies; but I think such are obvious, and I’ll let you draw them out yourself.