Rose coloured glasses

retro cat's eye glasses

Remember back in January, when I whined a bit about how much I hate wearing glasses, and how no one other than my immediate family has ever seen me in them?

Well, today I’m changing that. By wearing my glasses in front of, well, all of you, basically. GULP.

See, a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Specsavers, who said they’d read my post about the glasses-hating, and wanted to see if they could change my mind, by helping me find a set of frames I DIDN’T hate.

Honestly, I was a little bit reluctant. “I’d have to, like, wear these glasses ON THE INTERNET?” I asked, incredulously. “And you reckon nothing bad will happen because of that?”

They were re-assuring, though. I didn’t have to parade the glasses in front of the internets if I didn’t want to, they said. And if I REALLY couldn’t find a pair I didn’t hate (“I will never be able to find a pair I don’t hate,” I predicted confidently. Ever the optimist!), well, that would be OK, too.

So I thought about it. And, you know, I REALLY hate my current glasses, so on Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in the Specsavers waiting room, all a-tremble as I prepared to have my eyes tested.

“All a-tremble?” I hear you say. “Is this woman some kind of idiot, or something?” Um, well, yeah, pretty much. But what I also am, unfortunately  is a massive hypochondriac. I say “unfortunately”. It’s not much fun actually BEING a hypochondriac, but it’s even LESS fun telling people about it, because it’s one of those “comic” syndromes, isn’t it? I mean, most people think I’m joking when I tell them I can’t walk into a hospital (or, indeed, any medical situation) without breaking into a cold sweat, but the truth is, I can’t even walk PAST a hospital without breaking into a cold sweat. I’m shaking just thinking about it. I’m not even joking.

retro glasses

To say I’m terrified of medical tests, then, would be an understatement. Eye tests, for me, fall into the category of “medical tests”. Because I wear contact lenses, I have to have them a couple of times per year, and although nothing bad has ever happened to me during an eye test (Other than that one time when they did that “Blowing air into your eyeball” thing, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not prevent myself from SHRIEKING every time it happened…) I still go into each one feeling absolutely certain that the optician will look into my eyes and then announce that I’m either going blind, or that I have a brain tumour. Or possibly both. Happily, however, the staff at Specsavers said no such thing. They were also very kind and reassuring, which was good, because you know the “peripheral vision” test? Where they give you a little “trigger”, and you’ve to look at a dot on a screen, and press the trigger every time a light comes on around it?

I failed that test.

Yup, I failed an eye test. I didn’t even know you COULD fail an eye test, but, of course, leave it to me to find a way. I think – actually, I’m SURE – it was simply nerves that got the best of me. My reactions aren’t great at the best of times, and faced with the instruction to “focus on the dot”, my eyes instantly started roving around, looking at everything BUT the dot, and my finger joined in the fun by pushing that trigger more or less at random. At one point someone coughed outside and I reacted by pressing the trigger. GOD.

So I failed the test. The optician was kind enough to wait until after I’d gone through all of the other tests before she told me this, and when she did, she prefaced it with a great deal of “Now, it’s nothing to worry about at all, lots of people fail it,” but of course, what I heard was, “You are probably going to die soon.” GODGODGOD.

Having failed the first test, then, I had to do a resit, with a second, more thorough one. “This will just take a few minutes,” said the nice lady, handing me an eye patch. Yes, an EYE PATCH. I was going to die while dressed like a pirate! And I was too scared to even make a series of pirate jokes, which really disappoints me, looking back, because if you can’t make a good pirate joke while wearing an eye patch, when can you?

I passed the second test. Hallelujah! I handed over my eye-patch, and went to re-join Terry, (who had been having his own annual eye-test at the same time, and who had naturally passed with flying colours) for the fun part: the choosing of the frames.

Now, as I said above, I was sceptical about this. The fact is, I just don’t like most glasses. And they don’t like me either. My personal style, as you’ve probably noticed, leans heavily towards retro-inspired (or “old-fashioned”, as Terry would have it) looks, and what I’ve found is that most opticians don’t really cater to that market: in fact, last year, when I was buying my current frames, I looked at what felt like thousands of pairs of glasses, and the main thing I noticed was that they all looked more or less the same – either thick black hipster frames, thick black rectangular frames, or thin gold frames with those annoying little plastic nose-rest things, which always leave marks on my nose: awesome!

I did finally manage to track down a pair of (thick, black) cat’s eye frames, but as I said in my last post on this subject, I instantly hated them, and had decided that next time I bought glasses I would just go for the most obnoxiously “retro” style I could find. And here they are!

50s style cats eye glasses

These are by Red or Dead, and I was actually quite surprised to find them in a “regular” optician’s, because so far I’ve found that if you want the retro look from your glasses, most of the time you’re going to have to either go to a specialist, or buy frames elsewhere and then have your prescription fitted. I had been considering doing that, but these were exactly the kind of thing I was looking for: a cat’s eye shape, a non-black frame, a “60s secretary” kind of feel about them… The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the hint of purple in the tortoishell pattern, but having had them for a few days now, I find the purple much less obvious when I’m actually wearing them than it looks in the photo above, so they don’t clash with my clothes – or at least, I don’t think they do…

These were one of a few “retro inspired” frames I found at Specasavers (“Everyone’s looking for that now,” the saleswoman told me, which gives me hope that we might start to see more of them…), but they were the most unique, which is why I chose them. If I had to wear glasses all the time, I might have gone for a slightly “safer” option, but I’m lucky in that I only really need them as a back-up to my contact lenses, so I figured I may as well go for the “60s secretary” pair while I had the chance. (I was also lucky in that Specsavers had these made up for me in less than an hour, which really impressed me: any time I’ve bought glasses in the past, I’ve had to wait at least a week to get my hands on them, so I’d expected to have to go back next week to collect them. This would’ve been hard for me, because this branch of Specsavers nestles between Topshop and Schuh, and I’m supposed to be on a spending ban…)

All of that said, I liked these enough to agree to take some photos in them  (I had to take these myself, and as you can probably tell, I found it pretty awkward, so I adopted a “one pose fits all,” kind of approach. Seriously, you should see the out-takes from this set…), so who knows, maybe I WILL be able to bring myself to wear glasses in public, now that I’ve taken this ground-breaking (for me) first step?

60s style cat eye glasses

[Disclosure: my glasses were provided free of charge by Specsavers. All opinions are my own.]