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Tuesday, 28 August 2012


By Lyn Burnstine

When I was a small child just beginning school, my parents and teachers were puzzled that my reading and arithmetic skills were not progressing in keeping with my command of the spoken language. Finally, my second-grade teacher, after moving me ever closer to the blackboard, suggested that I might be having visual difficulties.

It’s hard to believe now that it could have taken them that long to conclude that I couldn’t see beyond the end of my arm.

So I was taken for an eye exam and glasses. When the glasses were ready, my mother took me to the optometrist’s upstairs office to pick them up. The doctor put them on me, led me over to the second-floor window and said, “There, what do you see?”

In my seven-year-old, full-of-wonder voice, I exclaimed, “Oh, Mommy, it looks just like a picture!”

My poor mother wept then and for years to come as she repeated the story always adding, “The poor child had never seen anything clearly in her whole life except in a picture!”

Lyn, with first glasses

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


My brother had a similar reaction to his first pair of glasses. He was astounded by the individual leaves on trees. He had only seen trees as solid blocks of green.

Lyn - Neat story.
The closest I can come to relating to this, was after cataract surgery, when I was astounded that the world had not become gray and dreary. It was still bright and cheery! - Sandy

Lyn, I had my first eye exam after I told my mother I could
see the blackboard twice.
Eye surgery came next.

I have been working on a post about my similar childhood experience with extreme myopia. My amazed reaction was the same as that of the brother of commenter Dani. It was a miracle to me.

I walked out of the eye doctors office with new glasses at age 8, and was amazed that I could read the movie marquee. Good memories, I looked a lot like you.

An eye doctor told me recently that such incidences happen a lot. It happened to me in the third or fourth grade too, and the teacher finally sent me to the nurse's office to have my eyes checked out. I did so poorly that the nurse asked if I knew the alphabet which, of course, I did.

Just like Dani's brother,I was amazed to see individual leaves on the trees, not blocks of solid green.

I posted that photo on facebook, and a lady said "Where did you get that picture of me?" I guess all little girls looked like that in 1940--pigtails with ribbons and round glasses.

Glasses have been the bane of my existence since I had my first pair at age 11. I have astigmatism so everything is a muddle when I don't wear them. When contacts came out I thought, great, but my eye doctor said no, so here I am still wearing glasses, but I insist on a new pair of frames every other year.Hang the cost!

It certainly shows how far we have come in the field of medicine - I think. I think of you seeing clearly for the first time - it must have been amazing.

Lovely story and beautiful photo. Is it your friend or someone else? Anyway fits story so well Lyn. I found out I needed glasses when a family group went with great excitement to see Shirley Bassey here in Melbourne! Not many big stars came here back then in the 60's. They were all stunned when over coffee later I said I couldn't see her very well. We apparently had the 'best seats in the house' according to everyone else. So off to optometrist I went and have worn glasses ever since.

Stroppy, that was me in 1940, age 7, right after I got the glasses. My father was a professional photographer at that time, so I was tired of him always testing out his new cameras on me--thus the sober face.

Hi Lyn,

My daughter, Carol, was exactly like you. She saw very little until she got her first glasses at age 7.

We went to the Optician to pick out her glasses and her eyesight was so bad she really couldn't see the frames.

She picked out the ones she thought she would like but when she got them she cried her eyes out because they were not what she expected.

BUT, her vision was so improved by the glasses she forgot all about what they looked like and never took them off, except to sleep.

I love your picture. It is so

I marveled so when I read this. My oldest needs only reading glasses to see, so we picked them up as we could find them. But he was forever losing them. Finally in second grade I got a letter home telling me he wore corrective lenses. I called the school and told them to seat him up closer. He loses every pair we buy. The secretary sympathised. Seems her brother had the same losing his stuff issue. When the school called her mom about it, she told them to get the kid a white cane! Eye issues? Yikes!

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