Seeing Clearly

I’ve always been near-sighted. From the age of six or seven, I’ve needed glasses to see the blackboard or anything beyond six inches of my face. I got my first pair in the second grade and I hated them. In the late 60’s, there certainly were not many fashion choices for eyeglass wear. Mine were dark brown, too big for my face, and were a source of ridicule (“hey, four eyes!”)…a total embarrassment for me. I even hated when people tried to compliment me by saying I looked intelligent with them, that they gave me character, or – worse yet – that I looked like a schoolteacher. Getting contact lenses as the age of fourteen helped with my self-esteem issues, but deep down I knew the damage was done.

I wore contacts well. First, hard lenses; then soft; then gas permeable ones. Much to the chagrin of medical professionals, family and friends became accustomed to seeing me occasionally take out a lens, do what was necessary to remove some piece of debris and clean it, pop it back in and move on. Over the years, many new pairs of lenses and cases, various cleaning and wetting solutions, and multiple pairs of backup glasses (only for nights and private family weekend) populated my bathroom cabinet.

Suddenly, last year’s pine pollen season threw me for a loop. Wearing lenses became impossible as miniscule specks of pollen became like grains of sand in my eyes. So, there was only one thing left to do…it was time for some type of Lasik or Intralase eye surgery!

When preparing for this type of eye surgery, one must accept the remote chance that blindness could be a possible outcome. Sure, the doctor’s practice brags, “According to our most recent, three-month (stable) data for WaveFront IntraLASE, in over 400 myopic (nearsighted) patients, over 96% saw at least 20/20 at distance with binocular, uncorrected vision. 100% saw 20/32 or better. Almost 80% saw BETTER than 20/20!” But, seriously, are they going to say, “only 20% of our patients were disappointed and/or went blind”? Though a potential disaster was highly unlikely, the concept involuntarily kept crossing my mind as I processed the idea of a laser beam cutting flaps across and then reshaping my corneas…

I calmed myself by thinking about my blue eyes and what they’ve seen over the years; people, places, animals, nature, disasters, books, food, etc. And then I thought of this blog, “Through Jewish Eyes”, and what it means to me. The truth is that my perspectives on the world and the things I’ve experienced through my life have very little to do with my eyes. My lifelong obsession with them actually has nothing to do with who I am and what I care about. Oh, they may cause me to create an initial impression of things, but my beliefs, thoughts, and feelings over the years have been far more trustworthy than what my eyes may have seen.

Sight, for sure is important, but vision is what really matters. I envision a world where people of different religions, races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations can live together in harmony and with tolerance; a world where we each contribute to making it a better place; a world where technologies unite, rather than divide people.

I had the surgery. I don’t need rose- or any other colored-glasses anymore. I can see clearly – up close and further away. But it’s my vision of the future that will require ongoing enhancements to achieve clarity, focus, and results.

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