Sloane Crosley: 'I smile at people I don't know and ignore those I do'

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The Independent Online

When I was little I had perfect vision. Until I went off to university, I was consulted on all things near (the ingredients in a can of soup) and far (street signs). "Yours will go too," my mother would say when I tried on her glasses and quickly flung them from my head before they made me dizzy.

Despite this warning about the inevitable deterioration of my sight, I didn't think much of getting my first pair of glasses at 20 years old. Perhaps this is because the prescription was so weak, I still got to retain some of my smugness when friends would try them on and ask if they were "for show". Because I am a horrible flincher, contact lenses are not an option. I'm always envious of contact-wearers. There are endless reasons to take off ones glasses during the day and as I have grown older, what I don't see has become increasingly pronounced.

If I go into a sandwich shop or anywhere that features "Today's specials" on a chalkboard more than 10 feet away, I have to ask for a printed menu. I smile at people I don't know on the street and ignore those I do. When at home, I often find myself grabbing my "back-up" glasses to search for the better-loved pair I have left on top of my dresser.

Recently, I visited the eye doctor in the hope of being told I need stronger spectacles. "Your prescription is correct," the doctor let me down, "your sight hasn't gotten worse since your last visit."

I wondered if eyesight works the same way a cough does. You're hacking up a lung and then the second you step into a physician's office, you can barely muster an exaggerated throat-clear. Because I swear my vision is getting worse. The other day I was sure I saw something crawl across the floor in my peripheral vision. Because I couldn't see what it was, I went out and bought roach traps as well as mouse traps. This is depressing, I thought, not to be able to tell the difference between a potential mouse and a potential large roach. I still don't know if what I saw was vermin or insect or fuzz. I didn't have my glasses on.

Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)