I came across a writer wanting advice when it comes to characters that wear glasses. They want to be realistic and write a main character that actually needs them and isn’t just wearing glasses because they’re a “nerd” or to make them look “smart”.
So I’m writing this to help answer their question, since I do wear glasses and I know the great and not so great things about wearing them.
People get glasses because they need them in order to see properly. Their eyesight is poor and they squint a lot because it’s a struggle to see things clearly. Just keep in mind that not every person’s eyesight is the same.
Some only need glasses to read. Others may need them because they are short sighted — myopia, which means that near objects are seen clearly without glasses but distant objects are blurred. The further away the object are, the more blurred they will be. While others need them because they are long sighted — hypermetropia/hyperopia, which refers to people who find it harder to see near objects but are better at seeing objects far away.
I’m near sighted. When I was younger I would have to sit in the front row because that was the only way I could see the black board clearly. It sucked because I couldn’t get away with passing messages or whispering to friends. Sometimes when I had to sit in the back of the class (be it for group projects or partnering up) I would have to ask a classmate near me if I could copy their notes, because that was the only way I could “see”. It was becoming obvious that I had an eyesight problem because I was struggling to see while everyone else was fine. My education was becoming affected and at that point my teacher noticed and had me go to the school nurse to have my eyes checked.
The school nurse confirmed what I already knew. I needed glasses. I was reluctant to get them because I didn’t like change. I didn’t like the thought of wearing glasses, but I needed them. So the first time I got them I was surprise at how clear and detail everything was. It was amazing, like I was watching a HD television for the first time, after being so use to the basic crappy and low definition television. I didn’t realize how terrible my eyesight was until I was able to see everything clearly.
Everyone’s first time of wearing glasses is like that, being amazing at the clarity in their eyesight. Of course, every first timer is also told by the Optometrist that it takes some time for their eyes to adjust to seeing perfectly and getting use to wearing glasses. That is why most people get headaches and sometimes other symptoms like dizziness, sore and tired eyes, and sore ears, nose and sides of the head, because they’re not use to wearing them. It’s normal for your eyes to be tired because they’re not use to seeing things clearly, and they don’t need to be overworked anymore. It also applies to when you take your glasses off. Your eyes were accustomed to the glasses, so when you take them off, they’re back to struggling to see everything.
But don’t worry, after a while though (the adjustment period largely depends on the type of prescription you have and your eyesight condition), you’ll get use to your glasses. It took me about a month or two to get use to wearing mine. During the first stage I was told by my Optometrist to wear them when I needed them (such as when I needed to take notes down from the blackboard or to see something from a distance). Once my eyes adjusted and I felt comfortable I was wearing them more often, and eventually, I started to wear them nearly all the time.
Now, what many don’t know is that there are some pros and cons to wearing glasses, just as there are for many things in life. Some people like to wear contacts instead of glasses, while others prefer it the other way around, and then there are those that use both for different situations.
- Glasses can be irritating for the ears and nose.
- They fog up.
- Not ideal to be wearing for sports or certain activities (such as roller coasters, bungee jumping, swimming, martial arts, skydiving, paintball, etc).
- Sometimes glasses can get in the way of kissing (such as someone’s hair might get caught or your nose might bump into them — but the easy solution is to just take them off).
- They can slide off, especially when looking down.
- Peripheral vision is distorted.
- They can be easily smudge.
- Rain and/or snow will make it difficult to see.
- You have to buy a prescription sunglasses if you want your eyes protected from the sun, especially when driving. Note: Transitions lenses don’t change in the car because the windshield blocks UV rays.
- Hard to fit under 3D glasses, ski goggles, sunglasses and lab glasses.
- Glasses give off a reflection and glare, especially at night (unless you have an anti-reflection coating). It can be annoying if you drive, take pictures or use a computer.
- Fear that they’ll break while you’re wearing them and have pieces of it damage your eyes/face.
- It’s a bit difficult to put on makeup with glasses (most people might not have compact mirrors or are too far away from their dresser’s or bathroom mirror to see what they’re doing and so they’ll need to keep their glasses on). Also, people with long eyelashes with mascara it will streak the glasses, leaving residue that makes it hard to see. But a easy solution is to wait for it to dry before putting the glasses back on.
- Depending on the glasses, they can’t be worn with certain hats.
- Wearing headphones can be irritating, even headbands.
- They last longer.
- Easy to put on.
- Easy to find then contacts.
- Makes a person look sophisticated.
- There are many designs and style of glasses to choose from.
- Can correct astigmatism better.
- They don’t have to be constantly clean like contacts do (and it’s cheaper to clean, as well as easier to do).
- Objects that would damage eyes can often bounce off glasses (such as a pebble).
- They don’t require frequent replacement purchases, and are cheaper in the long run.
- They pose zero risk for infection or eye irritation.
- If in an emergency they can be use to start a fire.
- Those with glasses tend to have an old pair that they can use temporary if their new glasses get lost or broken (and until they can get a new replace).
Your Character and Glasses
Now when it comes to writing about a character that wear glasses keep in mind why they need them and what kind of glasses do they have. Is the frame and style of their glasses Wayfarer, Aviator, Cat-eye, Round, Square, Rectangle, Rounded, Oval or Wrap? Maybe they can’t afford the more stylish frames so they have to get a basic version of one of those? Also, keep in mind the shape of the character’s face because one of the main factors of knowing which glasses to get is knowing what frame can compliment their face.
+ Square Faces - Recommend oval and round frames. Glasses with temples that are center set or that connect at the top of the frame. Butterfly shaped glasses. Avoid geometric and square shaped frames, as well as low-set temples or color accents on the bottom of the frames that draw emphasis to the chin.
+ Oval Faces - Recommend square, rectangular and geometric shapes which add angles to soft curves. Avoid frames that are too large for your features..
+ Oblong Faces - Recommend tall frames help create a shorter face. Broad glasses with an accented top rim or decorative temple that adds width. Avoid small frames that are out of proportion and short frames that accentuate face length.
+ Round Faces - Recommend angular and geometric frames that sharpen facial features. Rectangular and horizontal styles makes faces appear longer and thinner. Upswept frames that draw attention to top of face. Glasses with temples that connect at the top of the frame add length. Avoid small frames that are out of proportion and short frames that accentuate face length.
+ Diamond Faces - Recommend upswept styles like cat eyes that emphasize the cheek bones. Oval frames that maintain balance and rimless styles that allow cheek bones to shine. Avoid narrow frames that draw attention to narrow eye line.
+ Heart Faces - Recommend bottom-heavy frames that add width to lower face. Styles with low-set temples to draw attention downward. Narrow, round frames that soften the forehead. Avoid top-heavy styles that draw attention upward. Decorative temples that accentuate the broad upper face.
+ Triangle Faces - Recommend semi-rimless frames that accentuate the upper face. Top-heavy styles styles that balance the width of the jaw. Frame bottoms that angle inward. Avoid low-set temples that widen the jaw and narrow frames that are out of proportion.
Be Aware Of Your Characters That Wear Glasses
Most writers tend to forget that there are issues that those specific characters can face because they wear glasses. For example, what if your character is cooking a stew? As they are stirring the pot it wouldn’t be surprising to see that their glasses start to fog up, causing them to be temporarily blind until they move away. It can also happen when it’s winter and your character is turning on the hot water to take a shower. That will cause their glasses to fog up, just like their bathroom mirror and windows. Or maybe the character is outside and it’s raining, which will make it difficult for them to see things clearly.
Another thing that all people with glasses experience is that they sometimes can’t see where they put their glasses when they took them off, even if it’s out in plain view. They either find someone to help them or they have to pat around to find them. Other times they’re so experience in wearing glasses that they’ve designated a spot where they always put their glasses when they take them off (or they place their glasses on top of something bright because their glasses are dark and doing so will make it easier to find). But that’s depends on your character’s eyesight. You need to know what kind of poor eyesight they have in order for you to know what their limitations are.
Also, if a character was transported into an alien world where eyeglasses are unheard of then don’t be surprise that they’ll attract attention for wearing them. It’s not just the character with glasses that you have to keep in mind but the characters around them as well. How would they react to your character? Are they the type that like to try on people’s glasses? Do they find the glasses the character is wearing strange because nothing like it exist in their society/world/time period?
What if your character is learning how to fight with swords, daggers or any other type of weapon? Glasses can sometimes get in the way when it comes to certain activities. If a character had to roll on the ground to get away from a swipe of a sword, they can loose their glasses like that. Or their glasses can get knock off and break. It also gets in the way if they had to swim.
Is your character absent minded? Or are their glasses so lightweight that they forget they are even wearing them? If so, then they might have a habit of forgetting they are still wearing their glasses when they are about to shower or go for a swim. Is your character always aware of their own glasses, so much that they put their glasses away when they’re doing activities that can cause them to break? Did they learn how to fight or do things by relying on their other senses because they know that their eyesight is poor?
Also characters that need glasses find them important because they are the only thing that keeps them from being practically blind. It’s not surprising that many people who wear them are very protective of their glasses, especially when they don’t have a spare. So definitely keep that in mind when your character is in another world or time period where glasses are rare or don’t exist. The last thing they need is for their glasses to be lost or destroy because they’ll be miserable without them.
There’s a reason why I listed the pros and cons for wearing glasses. It’s moments like that, where the writer has to keep in mind about their characters that wear glasses. It’s not only realistic but another way to bring your character to life. It allows the readers who don’t wear glasses to understand more about those that do, and those who do wear them to feel a connection with that character, to sympathize with them.
The same can be said for those that wear contacts lenses. So here’s the pros and cons for them. Remember to keep these things in mind if your character wears them when you write your story. And always research what you don’t know!
- Need to learn how to put them on and to take them off.
- Needs to be cleaned regularly.
- Can’t sleep with them in.
- Hard to find if lost.
- Can’t open eyes completely underwater.
- Can cause irritability in smoky rooms.
- Can be costly buying contacts and solutions.
- Need to renew prescription yearly.
- Can be easily tear if not careful.
- The eyes can become dry out when wearing them.
- It can cause damage to the eye if a speck of dirt is between the lens and the surface of your eye.
- They get uncomfortable after wearing them for a long time.
- Beware of getting an infection if lenses aren’t clean properly.
- People who have a history record of recurrent severe allergic reactions or eye infections may not be suitable to wear contact lenses.
- Can’t wear if the environment is dirty or dusty.
- Need to be careful when putting makeup on, especially the eye makeup.
- No one can tell you’re wearing contacts (it offer natural eyesight without distortion, glare, or poor peripheral vision).
- No additional weight on your face, and no readjusting like you have to so with glasses.
- Perfect for sports and other activities.
- No need to worry about them getting in the way when you’re kissing and being intimate.
- Can customize the contacts by making them colored
- The field of view is larger
- No fogging
- They will not fall off easily.
- Can still see if it’s raining or snowing.
- Easier to put on makeup.