icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle



I grew up with a father who was an ophthalmologist, an uncle who was an optician, and a stepfather who imported eye glass frames. I always wanted to wear more than the empty frames they gave me to play with, but I never needed glasses until I was over forty. I bought the inexpensive drug store variety with enthusiasm because I found all kinds of funky, fashion statement glasses to match my outfits. Now, suddenly, I have developed an astigmatism and need prescription glasses. I am in shock, mostly, because of the price: I need two pairs. Bifocals are not convenient at the computer apparently—neck strain. Still, I am amazed and grateful that my vision can be corrected so easily and dismayed that glasses—unless I can get to a Walmart or Costco—are so expensive.

How could this most basic of human needs—to see—be in the greedy hands of a monopoly—Luxottica, an Italian company? Go to this recent 60 minutes exposé:


The earliest pictorial evidence for the use of eyeglasses is Tomaso da Modena's 1352 portrait of the cardinal Hugh de Provence reading in a scriptorium, literally a place for writing, usually religious manuscripts. But that portrait was painted centuries after the advent of spectacles. In fact, they were invented so long ago that historians cannot agree on when they first appeared—perhaps in Ancient Egypt, perhaps China, and only among the royals and priests more than likely. Were women permitted spectacles? Children? And what of the totally blind as opposed to those impaired by aging? They were revered. Consider, for example, the blind seer Tiresias from Greek mythology and Gaffer Gangee from “Lord of the Rings.” It’s an ancient literary trope: blindness as an instrument of awareness and understanding.

What, then, if we decided not to correct our eyes with spectacles? Or if we couldn’t afford to correct our eyes with spectacles?
Be the first to comment