Friday, 9 November 2018


As the day approaches when my first cataract operation will forever change the way I see everything, I find myself surrounded by an Autumn of wondrous colour. For a while now I’ve been attempting to manipulate photographs which demonstrate the blurred world in which I exist without glasses, and the ones I’m attaching to this article may give you some idea of how beautiful it can be at this time of year.

I was five when my poor eyesight was first noticed and the only remedy was the device I still use: glasses. For a young child wearing glasses is a burden because it immediately attracts unwanted and often cruel attention. In the nineteen fifties the choice of frames was severely limited. They were provided by the NHS, ugly and unflattering, the only concession to one’s youth being the choice of colour: blue for boys and a hideous shade of pink for girls. From the outset my lenses were thick and heavy, and inclined to break the moment they fell off onto unforgiving playground surfaces. When this happened at school, a friend would be delegated to take me home because I couldn’t then and still cannot see to cross the road without my glasses. When I was nine my exasperated mother marched me to the optician where I was prescribed a set of ‘games glasses’. These were blue (no concession for girls) round-eyed things, even heavier and not a million miles away from the ones John Lennon subsequently sported, at which point – of course – they became fashionable. Eventually even these broke!

Me as a bridesmaid, 1970!
As time moved on and fashion changed, opticians introduced ranges of non-NHS spectacles; trends were set and prices began to rise. The sixties saw heavy dark frames which grew enormous in the seventies and early eighties, changing shape many times over subsequent decades. Metal rims grew in popularity and colours exploded. One of my favourite pairs was a huge, clumsy-looking affair which from today’s viewpoint when I look back at photos of myself wearing them, appear hideous!

I’m looking forward, not to the operations on my eyes, but to the difference it will make to my life – from waking up in the morning (presently attempting to find out the time and more often than not getting it wrong) to reading a book before going to sleep. Eyesight (poor or otherwise) is a gift, one which we take for granted, but without which our world – and the way in which we inhabit it - would be a very different place.


  1. Oh yes! I know that Steven will relate to this as he has keratoconus and can't see more than 3 inches in front of his face without his special contact lenses. And now wears glasses for driving and reading (and a Loup) for close work.
    For me, vision problems didn't begin until I was in my late 40s, so I'm new to the annoyances and never had to endure bullying at school, for that, at least. Once digital and audio books became widespread and more affordable, I was able once again to read or listen to books with pleasure rather than frustration.
    Thinking of you for Sunday!

    1. Thanks so much for this Ellie. Steven has adapted incredibly well by the sound of it to his condition, and it's amazing the things they can do with sight now. I appreciate your own 'annoyances' with sight deterioration in your forties, as the same thing happened to M and he was not happy at all! I will, of course, be reporting back as soon as I can :))

  2. I feel rather guilty really having been blessed with perfect eyesight until a few years ago. The ravages of age have taken their toll though and I had to fork out nearly five quid for a pair of instant glasses from Boots (Number Ones!) a few years ago. These are only just adequate now and I'm thinking I may have to splurge another fiver on a pair of number twos.
    So, you can imagine how humble and thankful I feel having read about your vision history Prue.
    I hope all goes well on Sunday - I'm sure it will - and sending big hugs your way.

    1. I love this, Hugo! Please don't feel guilty - I've never really noticed my defective eyesight as a problem, having lived with it all my life I've adapted (as they say). Many thanks for your kind wishes...