An oversized pair of glasses rests on someone's face while a tiny person places clear film on the lens.

The Argument for Stick-On Prisms

When I was diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED), I had really bad double vision. My reality was flipped upside down within a matter of weeks and it was all very jarring. The eye doctor I was seeing gave me two options to temporarily fix this problem. One was a prism that could be engraved into the glasses lens so I could see clearly. The other was a prism that I could stick onto the glasses. I chose the latter.

Double vision from thyroid eye disease

Before my diagnosis, I wore glasses casually. I got my first prescription eyeglasses when I was seventeen because I had failed an eye exam at school. My far-away vision was not great but not bad enough that I constantly had to be wearing them. That was until the double vision came in.

I was told that the double vision I was experiencing from TED was likely temporary. I did not want what I was told was a temporary problem, to alter my glasses in the short term. A prism helps correct double vision. The benefit of having it engraved into glasses as opposed to stuck on is that it is easier to clean. The stick-on prism can get a lot of dust on it and it is harder to clean.

Stick-on prism vs. engraved

The eye doctor that prescribed me the prism and every eye doctor I saw after told me I should have the prism in my glasses, not stuck on. But I stuck to my instincts and got the stick-on. I first got it put onto my left lens because that was the eye that was bulging out and had more swelling.

The prism worked! Until it didn’t…

A few months into my TED journey, I noticed a shift in my eyes. The swelling had changed and the double vision had shifted. The prism was not working like it did when I first got it. With my eye doctor’s permission, I moved the prism from the left lens to the right (something that is much harder with an engraved prism!).

For the next year and a half, I had double vision. I wore my glasses with the prism every day. Sure, the space between the prism and the lens was a little dirty more often than not but I was already used to dirty lenses and that was just a minor detail in my daily life.

Prism removal

Then came the dilemma of knowing when it was time to remove the prism from my glasses altogether. Over the summer, my vision had improved and my double vision had slowly faded away. I was hesitant to take it off because I did not know if my double vision would come back. It was not like the prism was hurting my life. No one could see it but me.

After three months of hesitation, I was able to broach the subject of it with my eye doctor. He said if I do not have double vision, I can peel it off. If the double vision comes back, I can just get the prism wet with water and stick it back on the lens. Three months of back and forth to hear that I could take it off and not think twice about it?!

When I got home, I peeled off the prism and placed it in an old glasses case. I cleaned my glasses and put them on. For the first time in two years, I wore my glasses with just my lenses in them. Everything was clearer than I remembered. I was used to seeing one way that I forgot how better it is to be able to see without a prism on.

While I am very grateful for modern technology and corrective support for double vision, I am more grateful for time and healing. And the incredible feeling of finally being able to peel back the prism and put it away. A sign of how far I have come.

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