I'm seeing the world through new eyes, having just come from my annual eye examination and contact lens fitting. I had expected the doctor to tell me that I needed stronger lenses because I've noticed a slight blurring of vision over the last couple of months. But Dr. Truong, whom I adore, gave me the surprising news that my eyesight has actually improved considerably since my last visit, to the point where my lens prescription is now a good deal weaker. That's why my vision was blurry-my contact lenses were too strong.
He didn't offer an explanation, and I didn't ask; I was just happy to hear that my astigmatism is no longer a problem, and I can now wear daily disposable lenses instead of the more expensive ones I've used for the past couple of years. Dr. Truong was as tickled as I was, which is why I adore him. He's always cheerful, enthusiastic and empathetic. He did offer a tongue-in-cheek theory: "Your new haircut makes you look 10 years younger, so maybe your eyes are behaving that way too. You are getting younger." I love that man.
My first eye doctor was also a pleasant, likable sort. Dr. Tofukuji prescribed my first pair of eyeglasses more than 40 years ago, when I was an 8th-grader. Back then, we used to have annual vision tests in school, and notes were sent home with those who didn't make the grade, suggesting that parents follow up with a visit to the ophthalmologist.
(Side note: You're an old-time local if you remember not just vision and hearing tests in school, but uku checks as well. The teacher would give each of us two brand-new pencils, and we'd use them to search through each other's hair for nits and lice. I don't recall anyone ever finding any.)
When I was 12, I was given one of those notes (for glasses, not ukus) and my parents acted upon it immediately. My dad said he'd gotten his first pair of glasses at around the same age. "I didn't think I needed them, but then I looked at a tree and saw individual leaves for the first time."
I thought that was silly. How can you not see the leaves on a tree? And then I walked out of Dr. Tofukuji's office with my first pair of glasses - gold-framed granny glasses, very hip for the time - and looked at a palm tree. Sure enough, it was an eye-opening experience, pardon the pun. I had never seen the details of the fronds before. I was amazed. Up until then, I thought faraway objects were supposed to look fuzzy. That's how you knew they were far away.
I've worn corrective lenses ever since. At first, I only used my glasses to read the blackboard in class or watch the living room TV from the dining room table. Later, I needed them for driving, and for the past 20 years or so, I've worn contact lenses throughout my waking hours. Every few years, I've had to get stronger lenses. This is the first time my eyes have changed in a positive direction.
So I have my own theory: Cutting off 15 inches of hair affected my inner balance as well as my outward appearance. Maybe the weight of all that hair was putting undue pressure on my eyeballs, tugging at them from the inside.
My best friend Robbie had a more logical explanation. She suggested that my improved vision might have come about when I made some drastic changes to my diet a few months ago. I think she may be right. I'll have to ask Dr. Truong what he thinks.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying my new outlook. New hair, new diet, new vision . . . I feel, well, renewed. Oh, did I mention my new bra? I recently went to Perfection for a professional bra fitting and the results were positively uplifting. But that's a whole 'nother column. Stay tuned.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.