Monday, February 18, 2008


Last weekend we finally put away all the Christmas decorations. We also tried to re-arrange the storage space in our basement. We gathered two full boxes of items to donate to Goodwill Thrift Shop. While going through the containers, I found these old pairs of prescription glasses that I used to wear before contact lenses. I put the glasses into the collection box sponsored by the Lions Club. I think the donations would be given to people, mostly in underdeveloped countries, where prescription glasses are considered luxury items.

I still remember an incident that haunts me to this day. It was during one of the stages in our refugee life in Indonesia when we moved from Berhala Island to Kuku Island, as we were getting off the boat, my Dad handed me his jacket as he had to carry someone who needed help. I accidently turned the front pocket of his jacket upside down and there went his reading glasses into the water. I don't remember if we tried looking for the glasses or the water was too deep to attempt such task. Dad did not yell at me or express any anger over my carelessness. I tried writing to Uncle Ping who was going to sponsor our family to America. I don't remember what I wrote that caused Uncle Ping to respond with a nasty letter. Uncle wrote that how dared I asked him to send my Dad a pair of reading glasses while Uncle already had many expenses as part of the sponsorship. Uncle then went on with his ranting that the family was never kind to his parents and that my family only contacted him now as we needed his help but did not care that he even existed when we were in Viet Nam.

When we finally came to America, my parents pretended that we never received that letter. I think Uncle realized he shouldn't have written that letter and had tried to make amend.

I read somewhere that majority of Asians as an ethnic group are nearsighted. That is true in my family as all four of us (my three siblings and I) are. Last year I learned that my 6-year old nephew would also need glasses. My sister CH commented that she was angry at the adults who did not tell her not to sit too close to the television. I did not say anything at the time, but I thought even if someone told CH not to, would she listen? As children, we often rebeled and ignored warnings from adults. Only when we grow up or something terrible happened, then we regret why we did not obey.

In addition to the glasses, I also found this ancient cleansing and disinfecting system. When I first obtained contact lenses in 1985, it did not work out too good. I experienced irritations, uncomfortable, and my eyes were red most of the time when wearing the contacts. Once a week, usually on Saturday night, I would go through the routine of disinfecting the lenses. First, I put a tablet into the tube filled with solution. Once the tablet dissolved, I would place the lenses in the holder (catalyzing disk), on both sides. I had to make sure to place the lenses in the correct side, the left marked with the letter L, as my left eye had higher prescription. The lenses would remain in the tube overnight. I must remember to take the lenses out of the tube, rinsed thoroughly. The best way would be to place the lenses in the case for a few hours before putting them in your eyes. Otherwise, the chemical in the tablet would cause a burning sensation to the eyes. The first pair of contacts lasted only about six months. When I found the lenses a year later, they looked like pieces of dry skins. I finally gave contact lenses another try in late 1986 and it has been working out pretty good since. Currently I am wearing extended wear soft lenses but I take them out at night. I feel it is unhealthy to keep the lenses in while sleeping. I have thought of lasik surgery as in the last few years, the procedure has proven effective, safe and affordable. Personally, I am unsure of the potential risks and at my age, it might not be worth it.
I have thought of donating this ancient cleansing and disinfecting devise to Bausch and Lomb for their museum. Is there such thing as Museum of Glasses and Contact Lenses? Thanks to the wonderful world of Internet, I found information on Medical Museum at University of Iowa. Under the title "In the Eye of the Beholder: Sight, Illusion, and Disorder", the website provided history and display of items such as trial lenses and frames in 1890, a Chinese version of folding spectacles with case around 1800, and the most important statement "Spectacles have been valued as a mark of intelligence, social status and style since their invention in 13th-century Europe." I feel so much better about wearing reading glasses (or older people glasses) in addition to contact lenses.

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