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. Sometimes when I had to sit in the back I would ask a classmate near me if I could copy their notes and they would kindly let me see it.
I knew I needed glasses but I was reluctant to get them until my eyesight started to become a bigger problem for me: it was interfering with my education. The first time I got them I was surprise at how clear and detail everything was. It was like watching a HD television for the first time after being so use to the basic crappy and low definition television.
Everyone’s first time 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 wearing glasses and getting use to wearing them. That is why people get a headache when using them at the start because their eyes are trying to get use to not being overwork anymore. They could finally relax now that you have glasses.
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.
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. Or maybe it’s raining and it’s making 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!