I’m awkward, and maybe a liar, but not a hipster

About two years ago, I went to a new optical place to have my eyes checked and to get new glasses. Some quick math reveals that I had already been living in Georgia for… erm… three and a half years, by then, and it was my first eye exam in this state. Prior to then, I’d just assumed my prescription was fine and not bothered with an exam. Oops.

But by the time I went in, I was having trouble seeing. I knew I needed an updated prescription. So off I went, and I was introduced to the wonder that was the ocular pressure testing wand and I got fitted for daily contact lenses and it was all very exciting. If you go back and look at that post, you’ll notice that I made absolutely no mention of having my eyes dilated at that exam. This will become important, later.

Anyway. A year after that last appointment, Dr. Eyeball’s office developed an unrequited crush on me. At first, postcards arrived in the mail. “Hi, Mir! We hope you’ve had a great year! We miss you here at Optical Place and you’re due for an exam! WHY NOT CALL TODAY YOU HORRIBLE PERSON?!” (I threw the cards out, of course, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they said.) Then there were emails. And finally, phone messages.

Geez, Optical Place, take the hint: I’M JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.

Rather, I wasn’t. For a while. And then… I started having trouble seeing, again. Sonofabitch. But by the time I called for an appointment—last week—it had been close to two years, and their slightly stalkery attempts to get me in there for a yearly exam had tapered off. They were very happy to hear from me, though, and booked me in for an appointment just a few days after I’d called.

So I headed over there and checked in and signed the paperwork they gave me (yes, I promise to pay you; yes, I understand you won’t give my information to anyone else; yes, that’s still my address; and no, I won’t sue you if you accidentally perforate my eyeball with the glaucoma pressure testing wand) and headed to the Big Wall O’ Frames to poke around while I waited for the doctor. And I discovered something HORRIFYING.

Apparently, we’re all supposed to be hipsters, now. Did you know this? I mean, heck, even Snooki is wearing nerd glasses, so it must be true. The entire wall was filled with oversized plastic frames, most of them black, and I suddenly felt like I was standing there in my acid-wash, tapered-leg jeans, trying to discern which frames would best bring me joy and popularity in eighth grade. (Answer: NONE OF THEM.)

“Can I help you find something?” chirped a perky optician, having just finished up with someone and now coming over with some concern. My panic must’ve been evident on my face.

“I, uh, well… I have an appointment with Dr. Eyeball, and then I’m going to pick out some new glasses, I guess. But I feel like EVERYTHING here is kind of… giant… and hipstery… and I don’t know if you can tell from looking at me in all my unhipness, but I am not actually a hipster.”

This seemed to perplex her, somewhat. “Oh, that’s just the style, now!” she assured me, as if that made it all better.

“Ah. Yes. Well! Let me rephrase: I am not so much digging this style. Can you help me find something that doesn’t look like it’s eating my face?” We looked together for a couple of minutes, and then it was time for my exam. She said she’d see me after and we could look some more.

I went off to see Dr. Eyeball, and explained that I’d been having some trouble seeing, and she flipped lenses around on the big thing you look through while asking, “1 or 2? 3 or 4? 5 or 6?” and within minutes had concluded that yes, my astigmatism has worsened, and I do need a new prescription. While the big metal thing was still up to my face, I’d heard the exam room door open and then close, and when the device was swung away from my face, another perky young woman was standing next to me. I smiled at her, a bit confused, and she… handed me a tissue.

I took it, and stared at it. “Thank you…? Am I about to cry?” Both the young woman and Dr. Eyeball laughed; apparently she was here to put drops in my eyes, hence the tissue. OH. That made more sense. We all had a laugh.

“According to your chart you didn’t have your eyes dilated the last time you were here,” Dr. Eyeball said, flipping through my folder. “So we’ll do it today. You really should have it done every couple of years.”

My mind went back to that exam a couple of years ago. She’d wanted to dilate my eyes, and I assured her that I’d had it done at my last eye appointment, so maybe we could just skip it. Nevermind that my last eye appointment had been upwards of four years prior; I have NEVER had my eyes dilated. Readers, I am a lying liarpants who lies. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear even to me, I have ALWAYS lied to whomever was doing the examining and assured them that I had it done last time! I’ll do it next time! And that is how I came to be 41 years old without ever having had my eyes dilated. And yes, I know that I am ridiculous.

I decided to try to be a Responsible Grownup and said, “Okay, that’s fine.” Perky Tissue Girl squirted some numbing drops into my eyes, first, and then the dilation drops. Dr. Eyeball checked my ocular pressure and declared me free of glaucoma. Then she said it would be another 20 minutes or so before I was fully dilated, so if I wanted to go back out and pick some frames while I waited, that would be fine.

Back out in Hipsterland I found myself still quite annoyed with the frame selection. What if I don’t WANT black plastic? Or RHINESTONES? (Is that hipstery? What’s with the rhinestones, people?) Or if I want something that just, you know, is proportional to my face? I have a pretty narrow face, anyway, so finding glasses that fit properly can be a challenge even when the world isn’t purposely trying to look like a bunch of kids who stole their grandpa’s glasses. The optician kept bringing out more frames for me and I felt like Goldilocks, all “meh” and “that fits but I don’t like the frame” or “I like the frame but that doesn’t fit” and such. This went on for about 10 minutes, at which point…

… I discovered that I could no longer see. Having never had my eyes dilated before, I always assumed that it just meant things seem really bright. I had no idea it would completely bork my near vision, to the point where I kept picking up a pair of frames and trying to hold it as far away from me as possible so that I might actually be able to focus on it. Of course now both of the opticians were laughing at me and I was still all, “YOU AND YOUR UGLY GLASSES GET OFF MY LAWN.” It was… something. And it was nearly time for the rest of my exam, and I had a couple of pairs of frames picked out as possibilities—one pair much like my current glasses (my pick), and another borderline-hipster pair that I found to be a bit much (which the opticians assured me was just me “out of my comfort zone” and really they were FAB)—so I handed them to the optician and said “Hold these for me, okay?” Then I texted Otto and said HEY HELP PLEASE COME TO THE EYE PLACE I AM BLIND.

The dilated exam wasn’t too bad. I mean, I don’t know what I’d been so afraid of all these years, because it was over in about five minutes. Unfortunately, Dr. Eyeball was all, “Do you know what lattice is?” and I was all, “Sure, I use that in my garden when I grow beans!” and she was all, “Oh, haha, that’s not what I mean.”

Apparently she meant the kind of lattice where your retina is atrophying. (I like my kind better.) It’s not a big deal (so she said, after telling me my retina was atrophying; MAKE UP YOUR MIND, LADY) and is slow-progressing and just requires monitoring, apparently. So now I HAVE to have my eyes dilated every single year. Because otherwise we might not “stay on top of it” and my retina could detach! FUN! (Yes, yes, this is my comeuppance for lying about dilation, I KNOW.) Also, I apparently have an honest-to-God FRECKLE in the same eye. I am completely squicked out by that. I mean, degenerating retina, WHATEVS, but a freckle ON MY EYEBALL seems BAD. It’s not actually. It just—say it with me—requires yearly monitoring, she said, and I’d just started unclenching when she went on to explain that you can develop melanoma IN YOUR EYE and that’s why they monitor it. There was more, but I was curled up in the fetal position in the corner by then.

In conclusion: Take my eyeball, please! Oh, wait. That’s not it.

In conclusion: Otto showed up shortly thereafter and I showed him the two frames we’d set aside, and he liked the pair I liked, and despite both opticians cheering for the other pair, he agreed that they seemed a little… much.

Then I did the only logical thing left to do, which was that I took both frames across the office to the ladies who sit in billing (shut up, they TOLD ME TO when I was in there paying), and first I showed them the hipstery pair and said, “This is the frame the opticians love, but I think it may be a bit large for me.” They oohed and aahed and said, “No, those are fabulous, I really like them, you can totally pull those off!” Otto and I exchanged a glance—at least, I think we did? I was having some trouble seeing, still—and then I put on the other pair and just as I was saying, “And these are the ones I—” both women said, “OH I LIKE THOSE EVEN BETTER!”

So. The frames I picked—size-appropriate cat-eye librarianish specs—will be my new daily glasses. As for the hipstery pair… well… the thing is, they kind of grew on me in spite of myself, so I’m getting those as my computer glasses. I can practice being a hipster in the comfort of my own office, without having to go out in public. Just my speed.

Now all I need to do is listen to bands no one’s ever heard of and stop thinking about the possibility of my retina detaching or my eyeball-freckle turning into cancer. HAHAHAHA.


  1. Jen

    Eyeball freckle. Now THAT would be a great name for an ironic hipster rock band. ;)

  2. Susan in SF

    My eyes started feeling like they’d had the dialating drops just READING about them! Glad you can add another item to your “conquered” list and enjoy the groovy new glasses. Hooray for getting both pairs!

  3. Little Bird

    I’d tell you that the dilation thing gets easier, that one gets used to it, but I would be lying. I’m supposed to have it done every year too (different reason), but lack of health insurance turns out to be an entirely acceptable excuse to not do it.

  4. Rachel

    I laughed hard at Mir’s post, but Jen, I full-out snorted to that comment! :)

  5. mandy

    Too hilarious! When I was a kid, my parents were total cheapskates and would only spring for the $38 special – the ones that were approximately half the size of my face. Good times. And by “kid” I mean 10-21. Yeah, and people wondered why I never dated in high school.

    Do keep up on that freckle, though. In 2005 my mom developed malignant melanoma of her eye. Despite treatment, she lost it. But apparently there are some really cool people who make prosthetic eyes… and even sew in blood vessels. Me, if I had a fake eye, I’d go for a glowing wolf eye…..

  6. Otto

    I think I would call the band The Freckled Eyeballs. Maybe a bit more inclusive?

    Opening act: Dilated Pupil, but you’ve probably never heard of them …


  7. js

    You are hipper than me because I had to google what borked and squicked mean ;-)

  8. Brigid

    I, too, was 41 the first time I had my eye’s dilated. I thought for sure I must have had it done before, but no. I went to the dr for what I thought was a change in vision. Turns out I was used to 15/20 and was now 20/25 (I know, I’m unbelievably fortunate in the eye department) and thought things were fuzzy. Ha. Then I sat in the waiting area after dilation as the world got really fuzzy and thought “OH! THIS is what you mean by fuzzy. Nevermind. I’m all good.” (Is nevermind one word or two? I like one, but I’m getting the angry red dotted line.)
    Having freckles in places when the sun doesn’t shine, I know all about the yearly checks. Here’s hoping technology comes up with a better way to look at yours without dilation every year.

  9. StephLove

    Are there going to be pictures?

  10. Mir

    … maybe. We’ll see when I get them back and can actually see what the heck I ordered. ;)

  11. diane

    I’m very nearsighted and have an eye exam every year, and every year they dilate. We may have had a week’s worth of cloudy days, but on appointment day, the sun is shining brightly. Why yes, I looove wearing dorky roll up dark plastic fake sunglasses *under* my regular sunglasses on the drive home.

    Between the dilation, the nearsightedness and not having the contacts in I don’t dare try to pick out frames. I finally got smart and go in the day after the first appointment for that.

  12. Angela S

    I picked out my first set of glasses with dilated eyes and never forgave my mom! I refused to ever pick them out dilated again. Its just wrong!!!

  13. Sharon

    Honestly, I read this thinking I wished I’d thought to tell the eye doctor “Oh, I had my eyes dilated last time.” Although I am glad you had a thorough exam. I have an astigmatism too and any change makes a difference in my vision. Just to be sure I always ask if there’s anything I can do to keep my eyes healthy – eating carrots, vitamins, etc – and the answer is always “No, just a good healthy diet.” I’d like to have more control than that.

  14. Jess

    My eye place actually has this digital imaging thing that is more expensive than dilating (of course) but is actually pretty cool in that they took pictures of my eye that I could see. Plus, no obnoxious drops or anything like that. Might be worth finding a place that does that, if you’re going to have to get it done every year. I hate the drops, and was absolutely willing to pay the $25. My eye place is also a very small, rural practice, so I’m sure you can find a place that does it. I think it’s called digital retinal imaging?

  15. Ann

    Sitting in the OBs office is n

  16. deva

    My last eye exam resulted in a pair of glasses it took me six months to like. Because they are bigger (taller) than my last pair and purple.

    I managed to get them right before the big hipster glasses came in (which, I have hipster taste) and now I like them, but my experience in the beginning with them makes me hesitant to ever WEAR them. AND.. I fell asleep in them, so they are currently VERY LOPSIDED until I can get to the optician to straighten them out. (I mean, they sit higher on one cheekbone than the other lopsided).

  17. Kate

    I have a freckle too! My eye doctor made the connection between colon cancer and freckles. But, I will tell you, I have a very strong genetic link to that kind of cancer. Both my father and his mother had colon cancer, and I’m happy to now have 2 ways to avoid getting the horrid disease — get my eyes and butt check regularly!

  18. Korinthia Klein

    I am fairly new to glasses and it’s taken me a while to get used to them, but when I decided to embrace the new look I wanted choices, so I get a lot of frames online at places like Zinn Optical and Eye Buy Direct. I’ve gotten lots of things that are cheap but cute and I can change things up.

    Freckle on the eyeball is too weird to contemplate.

  19. Em

    Numbing drops! Now it all makes sense! I thought my eyeball felt that way because of the dialation, that the light sensitivity made me not be able to feel my eyelids? Well, numbing drops makes much more sense. Now I know (and knowing is half the battle. GI JOE! Sorry.) I want pictures too. I did get hipster frames last time. Though prior to that I had gone 12 years without new frames. I kind of like them and the benefit of having thick, nerd glasses is that they hold my thick, nerd lenses (not ironic or fashion conscious. Just necessary so I don’t drive off a cliff because I didn’t see a whole canyon or something). Mostly I wear contact lenses so I am be all cool in my glasses all alone at the end of the day which is usually the only time I am cool anyway.

  20. Melissa C

    The billing ladies at my eye doctor’s office picked out my last pair of frames too! I had it narrowed down to one particular style, in two colors. I was leaning towards the bronze-ish / brown-ish color, but I was willing to try the green just for fun. They liked the brown, but almost jumped out of their chairs and clapped when I put on the green. So yeah…I have green glasses. And you know what, I think they were right! Love those ladies. :)

  21. bonuela

    dilated eyeball chosen glasses? been there done that and counted the days til i could afford new ones.

    eyeball freckles? got ’em.

    but wait folks, that’s not all. i also get whiplash from snapping my head back during the “puff test” for eye pressure. yes, i am so afraid of a puff of AIR that i need to have my eyes numbed and a giant poker pressed up against my retina because that is NOT scary?!?!?

  22. Crista

    DH had a detached retina last year and *believe me* you do.not.want.
    Your cat eye glasses sound awesome! Can’t wait to see them :)

  23. Kati

    I have an eyeball freckle, too! Freaks me out when I think about it, so I don’t. And now that I think about it, I’m waaay overdue for a dilation as well. (Not 41 years, but at least 4 or 5…) Welcome to the eyeball freckle club, Mir.

  24. EmmaC

    I, too, have stories re: eye doctor and how I accidentally ended up with a pair of hipster glasses while in the throes of dilation. Which have now grown on me. Sneaky hipsters. If you haven’t watched this Brian Regan skit about visiting the eye doctor, you should now take a coffee break and do so:


  25. karen

    …and you know we’ll want to see the pics of this.. .spectacle. :-)

  26. Christine

    My eye doctor always warns me that with my visions being what it is (or something), I’m at increased risk for a detached retina, so I should “be careful of head injuries.” Because, what? I would not avoid head injuries without that added incentive? Also, I make my husband come with me when I pick frames, especially since I tried to pick sunglasses and he actually laughed at me when he saw them. I thought they evoked high school in a good way, but apparently not…

  27. Heather

    Wait, what am I missing? I’m 39 and have never had my eyes dilated. Thanks for the reminder — I need to make an appointment.

  28. Kathi

    I too have an eyeball freckle, that my eye dr has been monitoring for years. I did NOT know it was being monitored for melanoma. Thanks.

  29. Frazier

    Can I plug Warby Parker eyewear? They are an internet business and offer lots of hipster- (including a monocle! yikes!) and non-hipster- options for frames, sell complete Rx glasses for $95 and donate a pair to someone in need for every pair you buy. I am not related to the Warbys or Parkers, don’t own stock, and don’t receive anything in return for my plug, I’ve just had good experiences with their service, and I like their mission.

  30. bryan

    I have a freckle on my eyeball, and no one has ever mentioned that it would be a problem.

  31. suburbancorrespondent

    I need a picture of the hipster eyeglasses, because I have no idea what you mean. Are they different from the small nerdy/geek frames that have been popular for the past few years? I just cannot keep up.

  32. Midj

    DH had an eye experience this week also. Called in the middle of Wednesday to ask if I knew what sudden floaters meant. I Dr Googled and saw it wasn’t a big deal as long as you’re not seeing flashes of light. Well, while walking Carson (big white dog) that evening, he kept seeing flashes of light out to the side. I have a friend who is an Optometrist and I immediately texted her and my kids’ pediatrician, both of whom had their kids in my daycare for years. Consensus, call his eye doctor immediately. Dr was great, put him through several eye tests over the phone and scheduled him to be seen before hours the next morning. Luckily the flashes stopped and no evidence of detached retina. Chalk it up to aging and vitreal detachment. Yay. One more thing to look forward to. He was dilated and went back to work. Good thing he only drives around town for a living. OY!

  33. Jessica

    Oh goodness, I hate dilation. I do it, because I have thick corneas which creates anomalous readings as though I have high pressures and they want to check to make sure I don’t have glaucoma (which I also have a family history of), but I hate it. I have what I call “anime cat eyes” for HOURS, and I am not kidding. I cannot see for hours. I wear my sunglasses everywhere I go, because even inside with most of the lights off, I am blinded by lights. It’s crazy, and I hate it. This last time, they used these super special ones that they SWORE wore off sooner. “Yes, we can use these,” they said, “because you have light-colored, blue eyes and it will wear off sooner. It’ll be great.” Four hours later, I finally went into work, still blind, because I needed to do stuff and couldn’t stay at home, blind, all day. Did I mention that I was blind for hours?

    I still make fun of my husband’s dad for wearing glasses like that the last time they were in style, so…I don’t think I’ll be getting them any time soon. They remind me WAY too much of my glasses from childhood, which I hated (big and plastic). As soon as I was old enough to pick my own, I’ve only chosen metal frames, and they progressively got smaller through the years. (Not John Lennon or FDR small, though.) I’m never going back, and you can’t make me. ;~)

  34. ste

    I’ve never had my eyes dilated, either. And I’m almost 35. I figure with my mangled cornea, I don’t want to know if anything else is bad! Do we get to see the new specs?

  35. Jeanie

    I am a glasses-wearer, also, and have an exam every year. I do this because I get bored with my glasses after wearing them every day for a year and am more than ready for a new pair by then. Choosing frames can be overwhelming, but I found my go-to frame is Prada I can always find one I love. They do tend to be on the expensive side, but a little sleuthing around on the computer generally will result in finding what I want without having to mortgage my house. I’m looking forward to seeing photos of you in your new lookers, Mir.

  36. addy

    My turn next. Apparently there are words on those green signs along the highway. Huh, who knew?

  37. Brenda

    I hate hipster glasses. I do not understand why we want giant face-eating glasses. I can understand a solid frame in a smaller size, but a friend of mine got huge black frames and I think they look ridiculous. I wore huge round plastic frames when I was younger; I do not care to repeat the look. It wasn’t good then, it won’t be good now. My current glasses are half-framed, and they’re a good look for me. I would be willing to try a cat-eye plastic frame, but only if they weren’t too big. At least now you’ll be able to see clearly! Also, we obviously need to see these new glasses. Just sayin’.

  38. Sandee

    I have worn glasses since the age of 4 and used to have my eyes dilated every year. I was so thrilled when, in my 40’s, I found an eye doctor who has the digital mapping machine. I was more than happy to pay the extra money to NOT have my eyes dilated. Check into it – it’s worth it!

  39. kapgaf

    Can’t wait to see the pictures : I actually had to wear a hipster pair for 24 hours (broke my glasses and the optician lent me a pair so that I could read ) and I swear I looked like and ageing Clark Kent…..

  40. Kira

    OH, big black hipster frames! I AM LAUGHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. You will have to check out Tre’s new frames in the post I am totally going to write soon, if you want to see why.

  41. Julie

    Whyyyy are all the frames do darn big these days?? And all plastic?? I’m of the hipster age, but with my GIGANTIC perscription and narrow face, I need the smallest frames ever, thankyouverymuch. I ended up going to at least three eye doctor offices last fall just to look at frames. It took me at least three weeks to decide on a pair. You’re so lucky Otto has opinions; my husband thinks everything looks fine, and those are fine, too, and so are those. Doesn’t help that I so blind I have to take a picture of myself to figure out if I even like them – but that does make it easier to text my mom to get a second opinion on them.

    I found out I have lattices as well! I keep looking at my floaters when I get bored.

  42. Arnebya

    I am the weirdo who has never needed glasses who goes to Dr Eyeball annually because…OOOH GLASSES SMART. I leave every year being told I have slight dry eye. I have a pair of +1s (shut up!) that I wear at home, though. I’m safe in my glasses-coveting-weirdness at home. (That is, until I shared it with y’all. Damn.)

  43. Anna

    My daughter did (and should) have her eyes dilated nightly. You know, because she kinda needs her sight during the day.

  44. Melissa

    I’ve been wearing glasses since the 2nd grade. (And for those of you who ARE hipsters, that was the 70’s and it was NOT cool then!) They were huge, plastic and bigger than my head. Not to mention thick as coke bottles. Luckily, the 80’s came along, and my hair was so big,nobody even noticed the glasses anymore. Never could wear contacts, but I had RK surgery (I know, I should’ve waited and had Lasik, but I didn’t. Shut up.)
    And now they’re not really coke bottles anymore, but I still have to wear them. At 43, I have plenty of floaters to go with it too, but no freckles.

    My daughter actually has (what we’ve always called) a birthmark in one of her eyes. She’s had it since the day she was born, but the eye doctors have always told us it wasn’t anything to worry about. Might have to get a second opinion on that….hmmmm…

  45. Brigitte

    Ah, this explains why, when I checked out the Wally-world’s glasses store out of idle curiosity, I was awestruck by the attractive selection and low prices. It’s because they’re secretly the old, out-of-fashion frames, just like how I’M old and out-of-fashion (not that I ever was IN fashion, but you know what I mean).

  46. Amy

    My optometrist also has the optical map machine that you can pay extra money to have used instead of dilation. And absolutely, I always pay extra money to have it done.

  47. birdgal (another amy)

    Mir, you are not alone–I’m nearly 37 and I’ve NEVER had my eyes dilated (and I’ve been wearing glasses since middle school), though I think I’ve had the ocular mapping done that the previous commenter mentioned (it did cost extra money–but it was worth it to me!).

  48. The Other Dawn

    The last time face-eating frames were in style, the optical place ground my lenses so that the centre of vision was in the centre of the frames instead of where my eyes actually were, which placed it halfway down my face and towards the outer corners of my eyes. I unwittingly wore them to work the next day without taking my old glasses and by the end of the day I was in so much pain from my eyes trying to see through the right part of the lenses that I was nearly in tears. I had problems with double vision for years afterwards.

    I do not want hipster glasses. I think one should only be obligated to wear the stupider-looking fads once per lifetime.

  49. MH

    Is Hillary Clinton wearing hipster glasses?

  50. Kelly

    This goes into the educational post category – never knew those things! But yes, my new glasses for computer, books, driving at night… are purple plastic hipsters – and I now love them. I feel artsy in them haha. Like it gives me credibility to being creative. :)

  51. 12tequilas

    So speaking of freckles, I discovered recently that you can have a mole in your eye. I don’t have one, but my 7-year-old son does. They don’t remove it unless it grows, so it has to be…um…monitored.

    We call it “your weird eye dot.”

  52. Kathy Cox

    I, too, was recently diagnosed with a choroidal nevus (eye freckle) and thankfully, one of the leading malignant choroidal nevus doctors in the world is here in Memphis. I got a photograph of mine and they want it to be checked every 9 months. Freaky, for sure.

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