Getting New Glasses with Thyroid Eye Disease
Last updated: April 2023
I do not wear glasses all the time. I primarily need them for seeing details far away. My physical symptoms of thyroid eye disease (TED) progressed, and because I did not often look at myself in the mirror with my glasses on, I was taken aback when I finally saw myself wearing them. I picked out those frames before I was diagnosed with TED, but now suddenly everything looked different - somehow the frame’s shape brought more attention to my already prominent eyes and the lines underneath. Additionally, my face shape appeared to have changed throughout my journey with TED. My jawline now looked less defined, and my face in general looked more square. These glasses looked like they were made for someone else. They just were not right.
I waited a long time for surgeries that would help correct the damage caused by TED. I knew they were on the horizon, and I didn’t want to get new glasses during the waiting period. Looking in the mirror was very upsetting in general. Why put all that stress on myself when I might look different in a year and want new glasses again? So I waited until after my surgeries were over.
Shopping for a new pair of glasses with thyroid eye disease
I knew that getting new glasses would be challenging. After my surgeries things were certainly better, but I didn’t look exactly like the old me before TED. My relationship with mirrors was still complicated. I knew there would be a lot of time looking at my reflection, so I prepared myself emotionally. I reminded myself that it’s okay if the styles I had previously liked weren’t the right fit anymore. I encouraged myself to try frames that I might not have gravitated towards before. I picked out one of my favorite outfits. I took extra time to curl my hair and do my makeup. I wasn’t focused on looking pretty - I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel confident.
As I perused the displays, a staff member asked if I wanted help. She seemed nice and genuine, so I briefly explained and ended with, “This feels like a big step for me. I know at some point I’ll get decision fatigue. Would you mind if I ask for your opinion?” She was kind and said she was happy she could help. Though it seemed small, I was grateful for this bit of support.
I surprised myself - I actually had fun. I even took selfies! I do realize that perhaps one of the reasons why it was easier than expected was face masks were required indoors at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I could not see half my face, so there was a literal barrier between me and the full experience of seeing myself in the mirror. I left with a pair of glasses that I liked, but after taking the mask off, things looked different again. Sure, I still liked the color, but perhaps I should have opted for a different shape? Oh well, it was still a positive experience, and there was always next time.
A second pair of glasses
I was fortunate to be able to get a second pair later that year. This time, my husband came along to help, and again, I was grateful for the extra support. Once again, I did my hair and makeup, and I chose an outfit I loved. I made an appointment in the afternoon when my eyes generally felt better and were less puffy. And once again, it was fun. I felt good about myself. There was a wider selection here, and I found a dozen frames that I liked. We narrowed it down to three, and my husband asked if we could briefly step outside with the frames so I could take my mask off and see how they looked without it. The kind and very chill staff member said, “Sure, not a problem!” Outside we went, glasses went on, I looked in the mirror -
Then I had a moment. The person looking back at me was not who I expected. “It’s okay,” I told myself. “Take a breath.” I did still like the frames. Things were just different. We went back inside, and I pulled my husband aside. “I need help. It’s been a lot of mirror time, and I’m maxed out. I just had a little moment. I’m okay, but can you pick? All three of these are fine with me.”
The associate asked what we thought, and my husband handed her the frames. “Great choice! I love these for you!”
A good fit for now
In the end, I loved my glasses. I’m continuously working on my complicated relationship with my reflection, but I’m glad that I have a pair of glasses now that feels like a good fit. They feel right for where I am now. Sometimes seemingly simple things are actually big steps in the healing process.
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