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The eyes have it

A female Asian optometrist wearing a lab coat, and an Ethnic girl are indoors at an optometrist's office. The optometrist is putting glasses on the girl's face.

A female Asian optometrist wearing a lab coat, and an Ethnic girl are indoors at an optometrist's office. The optometrist is putting glasses on the girl's face.  

Behind the thick glasses are strong, smart and lively individuals who do not fit into any of the stereotypes spread about them

Scanning through our marriage album, I told my wife, “Those big, beautiful eyes could be the reason for your high myopia.” Starting from the sixth grade, she had worsening short-sighted vision and when it increased to a power of -14, she underwent a laser surgery. She used to share stories of being an object of ridicule for her classmates and others.

People with spectacles have always been the butt of jokes and mockery. The thicker the glasses, the blunter the jokes. I am sure every class has a student who is called Chashmish, Kannaadi or equivalent in the local language. Such students are usually ignored for stage performances such as drama and dances. If at all they are chosen, they perform a funny part or are forced to remove their glasses on the stage. Rarely does the spectacled student gets a chance in outdoor sports and athletics. Interestingly, modern science says children with myopia need to spend more time outdoors to strengthen their ocular muscles.

Screen stereotypes

Movies have played a major role in the stereotyping. The transformation of an innocent citizen into an aggressive hero begins with the shedding of his spectacles. Have we ever seen a heroine wearing glasses? Most comedians wear one, often in a funny shape and attitude. The nerdy college professor withbig eyeglasses, the hero’s asinine sidekick with a thick glass, the scientist in the lab with a round glass, the doctor with wide-framed specs who removes it to disclosesad news, and so on.

Are we aware about the many difficulties faced by people wearing specs? Riding a motorcycle or a stroll when it rains is a nightmare.

Sipping a hot cup of coffee or walking out of an air-conditioned room or vehicle leads to fogging of our glasses, blinding us.

Myopia or short-sightedness, the most common reason for wearing glasses, is on the rise. The tendency to develop it is partly related to our genes. If one or both parents had childhood myopia, the child stands a higher risk. Both my sons are bespectacled. Statistics indicate a two-fold increase in the number of patients requiring spectacles in the past 40 years. China has reported an 80% prevalence of myopia among its children. The increased exposure to gadgets early in life and limited exposure to the external environment have been touted as important reasons for this increasing incidence. I believe there is an increased need for sensitivity and consideration in the way we treat these children without being judgmental. They can be stronger, smarter and livelier than we presume.

rishiortho@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:07:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-eyes-have-it/article31876189.ece

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