As someone who calls herself Veronica with four eyes on the internet, it should come as no surprise that I wear glasses. I’ve worn them since I was around three years old and do not take them off unless I am sleeping or washing my face. I love my glasses and am grateful that I have access to quality prescription lenses that allow me to make the most of my usable vision. Since my glasses look different than traditional glasses with clear lenses, I sometimes get questions from curious strangers, friends, children, and even medical professionals about different things related to the appearance of my glasses, and today I will be sharing how I respond to questions/comments about my glasses, along with tips for how to answer these questions. Please note that these answers are based on my own personal experiences and that individual responses may vary- though feel free to use these answers in conversation!
“Shouldn’t you be able to see with your glasses?”
I have low vision, or vision loss that is not corrected by glasses. Just like crutches or a walking cane do not make someone walk perfectly, glasses do not make my vision 20/20 or “perfect”, but still help me tremendously with being able to process visual information.
Another thing to consider is that glasses do not correct all forms of vision loss, especially for conditions that result in limited peripheral/central vision, floaters, heavy visual static, poor contrast vision, and other low vision characteristics.
“Why are your glasses scratched in the middle?”
I wear lined bifocals for reading, meaning that my lenses are split in half lengthwise- the top half is for seeing things that are far away, while the bottom half is for reading. These are two different prescriptions, and I find it more comfortable to use lined bifocals over progressive/no-line bifocals that put the reading lens in a different location. So the “scratch” is intentional!
“Why do you wear dark glasses?”
I have photophobia (sometimes also called photosensitivity), which means that my eyes are extremely sensitive to light. Being in bright environments is physically painful for my eyes, and sharp white colors can be disorienting for me to look at as well. My glasses have a dark gray tint that makes it easier for me to read and navigate indoor and outdoor spaces and they do not change color depending on lighting- they are always the same color.
Tinted glasses are also a popular choice for many people who live with chronic migraine, traumatic brain injury, or other conditions where bright lights can be a trigger. My glasses are not meant to hide my eyes, as they are still visible through the lenses of my glasses, rather to protect them from bright light.
“Are you wearing sunglasses inside?”
I wear tinted glasses that remain the same color regardless of external lighting and they are not polarized, so I can look at screens without having to tint my head- most sunglasses are polarized and affect the wearer’s ability to interact with screens. I wear the same glasses from day to night, and the tint is light enough that I can wear them at night without getting disoriented in the dark.
Because my glasses strongly resemble sunglasses, I have to get them approved for remote testing accommodations and have them listed in my Disability Services file, since students typically are not permitted to wear tinted glasses when working with proctoring software. Since these are prescription glasses that are medically necessary, I also wear them in my state-issued ID and university issued ID photos, since I would always be wearing my glasses when using these IDs.
- Seven Unexpected Disability Accommodations For Virtual Learning
- Testing Accommodations For Low Vision Students
“What is your prescription?”
A lot of people associate low vision and visual impairment with strong glasses prescriptions or high-powered lenses, and I’ve worn glasses with a high level of prism in the past to manage double vision, though I often got vertigo easily and had to have eye surgery to decrease my reliance on prisms. My prescription is a lot weaker than a lot of people expect because a lot of my vision loss cannot be corrected with glasses, and I prefer to wear a more lightweight prescription that doesn’t hurt my eyes after long periods of time. I treat this question as more of a yes/no and tell people that yes, I wear prescription glasses.
It’s worth noting that several people may choose to wear glasses without a prescription for style or to protect their eyes, or they may wear tinted non-prescription glasses as well. Conversely, some people with low vision may not wear glasses at all because their vision loss is not corrected by glasses. Both choices are valid, and I have no problem with people wearing so-called “fake glasses” unless they are doing it with the intention of harassment.
“Do glasses even help?”
I sometimes have people ask why I bother wearing glasses if I still can’t see well while wearing them. However, my glasses absolutely do help and make a huge difference with improving my double and blurry vision, as well as allowing for me to read large print sizes. In my case, glasses absolutely help with these things, and there aren’t any tasks that are made easier for me if I take off my glasses, except running into walls.
“Can I try on your glasses?”
Absolutely not! Just like someone should never touch a person’s mobility aid or service animal, I do not let people touch or try on my glasses, as they are extremely important to me and I cannot risk having them get damaged. Having someone else try on my glasses also leads to the inevitable comments about how my vision loss is more or less severe than they were expecting, which means answering more questions about my prescription. If someone is interested in seeing what tinted glasses are like firsthand, I recommend that they check out non-polarized tinted glasses available online or at the optician.
“Can you take off your glasses for me?”
The answer to this question is always no, unless I am having my passport checked at the airport or my eyes checked in a medical setting. I don’t like taking off my glasses in bright environments and prefer to avoid unsolicited comments on the appearance of my eyes as much as possible. Also, as I mentioned before, there are no tasks that are made easier for me if I take off my glasses.
“I get it, I’m blind without my glasses too!” or “I’m legally blind, if I’m not wearing my glasses”
People often share empathy by relating their own experiences to the experiences of others, and often don’t make these comments to downplay my experiences with low vision. Still, I found these types of comments very frustrating when I was a teenager, and sometimes would snap at people telling them it just wasn’t the same. A much better response and the response I use now is to tell people that how they see without glasses is similar to how I see with glasses on, or that I am legally blind with glasses on.
“You look different without your glasses”
You look different without my glasses too! This is typically my response when people see my passport photo or a rare picture of me without glasses.
“You would look so much prettier without your glasses” or “what about contacts?”
I’m not sure if I would look prettier, but I know for sure that everyone around me would look much uglier without my glasses, since they would essentially look like giant blobs with no distinguishing features. I like the way I look with glasses and am not a candidate for contact lenses, and I would much rather be able to see what others look like than think about what I might look like without the tool that lets me see them. Without my glasses, my eyes hurt from bright light and get tired very easily- and that’s not a good look!
Other tips for responding to questions/comments about glasses
- I love humor and jokes about vision loss, but recognize that others may not pick up on it or may feel it is okay to make offensive jokes about vision loss in response. I recommend giving a serious answer to a question first, and then maybe making a joke afterwards, instead of giving joke answers first
- I use the term low vision to describe my vision loss in this post, though others may prefer to use different terms to describe their vision such as visually impaired, legally blind, blind, vision impaired, or similar
- While the term “four eyes” has been used as a way to make fun of people for wearing glasses in the past, I have reclaimed the term as part of my website name, where the URL is my name spelled with four I’s- Veroniiiica.