Travel to Peru, win my local tennis league and, inevitably, start going to the gym - these had been my new year resolutions for 2020. And little had I known, as I had quickly scribbled everything down on the back of an old book cover whilst on the tube. Of course, we all know now how it all ended. I did not get to travel to Peru (or go abroad at all, for that matter). I hardly played any tennis, let alone joining a league. And no, no gym either (although I am not sure I want to blame the latter on the pandemic alone, as this is a resolution I break every year).
As lockdowns and the various restrictions came, I got more used to a domestic lifestyle. I started filling my time with unhealthy doses of Netflix, Youtube and interesting reads from online and offline magazines, until my poor eyes could no longer bear it. I started experiencing stinging eyes for the first time ever, and my vision felt sometimes blurred.
Finding out I have myopia
On friends' advice, I visited an optometrist (as soon as they had reopened) and found out that I actually have a light form of myopia. This has not been caused by the excessive screen time; apparently, I may have had it for a while.
My very first reaction was to look for a pair of cool glasses, and I cannot stress the word cool enough… because, you see, I live in Shoreditch, home to hipsters and chique geeks, and in my neighbourhood to have the right frames is simply a matter of life and death.
Discovering contact lenses
After a couple of months of me showing off my newly acquired fashionable nerdy look, and as life was returning to normal (or kind of), I started to realise that sometimes my glasses were more an inconvenience than anything else, because they would get in the way of me doing things. For instance, practising any sport (running, playing tennis, cycling, etc.) was almost impossible. My glasses would simply fall off, and after a few attempts to force them on, I would give up and make do without. My friends suggested different frames for when I play sports, but, in all honesty, I didn't think they'd be worth the investment because sporty frames don't do much for the hipster look, which was the main thing for me. So I just decided to go for a more practical solution.
My optometrist suggested I try contact lenses, as she thought they would better suit my lifestyle. As she prescribed my very first box, she listed all the advantages I would get. Here's a few that I can still remember and that I have personally experienced since:
First of all, a better peripheral vision: As lenses sit directly on each eye, they cover every single angle; I can see the whole court and follow the ball's trajectory when I play tennis, so I never miss a hit (that is to say, rarely. I mean, let's admit it, lenses are not magical and they will not make you a champion or a superhero, but they will definitely improve your game).
Increased safety: On a tennis court, glasses could actually prove dangerous and possibly cause an eye injury if a ball hits the glass. Contact lenses don't present the same risk.
Compatible with sports gear: Contact lenses go with everything, so no need to think of what to wear them with.
Additional UV protection: Well, while I have a passion for outside sports, I don't like the idea of my eyes being exposed to harmful sun rays. With many lenses featuring in-built UV blocking,they really are a complete no-brainer! And they can easily be combined with sunglasses.
Dailies, my new best friends
Okay, so, having tried contact lenses, I must say that the whole experience turned out to be positive for me. I never really completely abandoned my glasses. Nowadays, I like to keep both options. I sometimes wear specs, but when I am more physically active, I switch to contact lenses purely for practical reasons. And if you, too, like me, live a life on the go (and who doesn't, right?), then I am sure you will appreciate my more recent discovery: daily lenses.
The first box of contacts prescribed to me by my optometrist had contained monthlies. At the time, I didn't even know there'd be different kinds. Soon, I realised that, although the monthly lenses were still a more sensible choice for my active days than my glasses, they came with a bit of a baggage too. In fact, I always had to carry with me a little case in which I could store the lenses once I took them off and a bottle of solution. I think this may work for some people, but I found it a bit of a faff. Being new to all of this, I was not very practical at caring for the lenses or keeping them clean, and was always worried that I would get it wrong or forget something.
Once again, I turned to my optometrist, who, to my surprise, still likes me and seems not to be bothered by my frequent question attacks. I think she's used to people who discover having a sight problem only later on in life. Patiently she advised I switch to dailies. And that was indeed some precious piece of advice because dailies absolutely changed my life! Personally, I wear everclear ELITE, and I love them because they are refreshingly carefree. I simply put on a new pair each time, and when I'm done, I remove them and throw them away. This saves me plenty of time, and it means I don't need to carry extra items for care with me. Then, on days when I decide to have a night in and spend it with my reading glasses on, I don't have to worry about where and how I store my contact lenses.
Finding out I had myopia could have been a much more traumatic experience had my optometrist not shown me how many different solutions there were out there. I think the trick is not to panic, get professional advice, and find the best solution for your personal needs. Keeping an open mind can help. Because sometimes the first solution you think of may turn out not to be the ideal one, and you may need to try others. Other times, like in my case, one solution may not be sufficient. You may want to combine contact lenses and glasses and use either or according to the specific situation. Whether you live amongst the cool kids in Shoreditch or not, don't just follow the trend, do whatever works best for you. Trust me, I did.