Keep your eyes as the prize

My eyesight is about as bad as a dog’s.

Glasses are probably the most important piece of property I own. Without them, the world is just a hazy blur of colors and sounds. Back in college, one of my favorite ways to relax was taking off my glasses during the walk to class. It’s the visual equivalent of putting on headphones and zoning out from the world: You hear birds, see big blobs of color, and it’s impossible to know or care about what other people are doing and thinking.

Walking around completely detached with a big, goofy, self-satisfied grin is fun.

That’s not a very practical way to live, though. When my glasses break, or I can’t find them, the world is suddenly very large and very mysterious. Unless someone helps, I’m almost completely reliant on memory and my other senses. It’s never fun being late for work; especially because you spent 15 minutes crawling around with your face against the floor or sliding your hand under the couch.

Every May we celebrate Healthy Eye Month to promote vision maintenance. Unfortunately, there are too many ways to damage eyes and make them as bad as mine, or worse.

Protective eye wear is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy. Sunglasses not only help you look cooler, but they keep out UV rays that cause cataracts and eyelid cancer. Just make sure they fit your face: Any version worn in the Terminator movies should be fine.

For “athletes” like me, a sturdy pair of sports glasses is critical, because:

1. A baseball in the eye is not fun
2. Someone accidentally swatting your face in basketball is not fun (plus, you get to look like Amar’e Stoudemire)
3. Colliding midair with someone else and falling on your face is not fun
4. Riding your bike too fast and hitting a tree branch — with your face — is not fun
5. Many more reasons my face would rather not remember: also not fun

You probably shouldn’t smoke, either. Alongside all the other ways it hurts your body, smoking can have unique effects on the eyes, like detaching your retina and blinding you. That’s terrifying. It can also cause blind spots as you age.

Also know your family history, because eye problems and diseases are often hereditary. Almost everyone on my dad’s side of the family wears glasses, except him. He has perfect vision… except for when he needed cataract surgery. Now his eyes “glow” in the dark like a cat’s because of his new lenses.

Speaking of cataracts, there are some amazing new things happening in the world of eyes. Scientists in China recently used stem cells to fix cataracts in children and restore their eyesight. They didn’t need expensive surgery, so it could be the start of an eye treatment revolution.

Meanwhile, glasses are cooler than ever. Celebrities wear them without lenses, just because they’re a fashion statement. They also help in job interviews! Several studies find about half of people think you’re smarter and more professional while wearing glasses (with lenses).

You should still take good care of your eyes, though. While it’s always funny to hear people say “Woah!” after they try on my specs, I’d trade them away for perfect vision genetics in a heartbeat. I’m luckier than many when it comes to eyesight, but the situation could still be much better.

So take care of your eyes – chances are, you won’t see the damage coming. Then you’re stuck ending articles with paronomasias.

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