New Age Eyes

Dec 072003
Authors: Christiana Nelson

At age 7, David Shorrosh spins a display kiosk filled with

eyeglasses and carefully chooses a pair to try on.

“Hey, how do I look?”

He looks in the mirror and admires himself wearing a silver pair

of adult eyeglasses but then returns to wearing his own.

Shorrosh remembers being eager when he found out he was going to

get glasses almost a year ago.

“I couldn’t believe I was actually going to get glasses,”

Shorrosh said. “I was in the kitchen when my mom told me and I was

so excited.”

Dr. Johnna Bontadelli, an optometrist for Hartshorn Health

Service, said glasses are being prescribed as often as contacts and

are becoming more popular than they have been in previous years

because of marketing techniques.

“Think about how glasses used to look compared to now,”

Bontadelli said. “Now they are acceptable and fashionable. We are a

slave to marketing.”

Fashionable glasses have led people without vision problems to

wear glasses frames, Bontadelli said, but T.J. Jacobson, a

sophomore criminal justice major, believes contacts have more

advantages than glasses.

“I prefer contacts because they don’t get dirty, they don’t fall

down your nose and you can play sports in them,” Jacobson said.

Amanda Briggs, a junior English education major, also prefers

contacts but said glasses have advantages.

“If I’m tired it’s easier to just wear sweats and my glasses,”

Briggs said.

Since glasses establish that a person has a vision problem more

readily than contacts do, the rising popularity of glasses may lead

to an assumption that vision problems are escalating.

Still, Bontadelli said eye problems are not increasing, but

rather the diagnosis for vision problems is improving.

“Optometrists and eye professionals are doing a better job of

being proactive and putting people in glasses sooner rather than

wait until it develops into something serious,” Bontadelli said.

“We prescribe more reading glasses and bifocals than we used


Like many children, David’s mother brought him in for an eye

exam because he was having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school.

He was diagnosed with nearsightedness, a common vision problem that

means a person can see nearby objects, but has difficulty viewing

objects that are far away.

“If it’s genetic, people who are nearsighted can get glasses

when they are little, around age 8 or 10,” Bontadelli said. “They

wear glasses all the time and their vision becomes worse as they

mature, but levels out after awhile.”

If people can make it past childhood with good vision, they may

begin to have vision problems in college when they are exposed to

large amounts of reading and long hours in front of a computer,

Bontadelli said. The eyestrain during college can result in

problems with focusing on nearby objects, a vision problem known as


Mike Wilson, a freshman physics major, has never worn glasses

and believes that vision problems stem from personal


“I was more of an outdoor kid and people probably have to get

glasses if they watch T.V. and play video games too much,” Wilson


Yet, Jacobson contends that vision problems are primarily


“I’ve worn glasses since fifth grade and both my parents and

both my sisters do too,” Jacobson said. “I don’t think (vision

problems) are because of my activities, they’re just because of


However, vision problems may be a combination of genetics and

participating in specific activities, Bontadelli said.

“There are definitely more reading problems developing because

people are in front of their computers so much,” Bontadelli said.

“If a kid plays a lot of computer games, or something like that,

they are more likely to develop vision problems.”

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