I have now been involved in the optical industry since I was fifteen, which is the last thirty years. In that time I have seen glasses change from a thing that you had to wear but most people hated, to a fashion accessory that people can’t do without. When I started in optics people would be devastated when they were told that they needed glasses for either distance, reading or both. If they wore glasses they would take them off when they went out socially, even though their vision would be blurry. Blurry vision was an acceptable trade off rather than someone seeing you in a pair of glasses and being asked “Oh my god, do you have to wear glasses to see????” The glasses would be sneaked out of bags to quickly read a menu, then thrown back in as quickly as possible.
People would remove their glasses for their wedding pictures and again walk about with blurred vision on the “happiest day of their lives”. Looking back at the pictures its hard to recognise the non spectacle wearing person who is in them.
Thankfully the optical industry has now changed for the better. Glasses are now seen as a perfectly normal and fashionable part of every day life. When I was a kid I hated wearing my specs and would be taunted by name calling for having them, now when we eye test kids and tell them that they don’t need glasses they are devastated! I don’t know how many pairs of kids glasses I have made with no prescription in them because they want to wear them for fashion. Changed days.
The Hearing industry reminds me of when I started in optics. People are so embarrassed about having to wear a hearing aid and would rather have very dull hearing and miss most of conversations and become very insular rather that admit that the need help with their hearing and agree to wear a device that will assist them. The stigma of hearing needs to change and fundamentally it starts with the name ‘Hearing Aids”. I don’t wear “See Aids” so why do we call them “Hearing Aids”. Hearing loss is no more of a disability than needing glasses to read. Modern digital Hearing Aids are so much for than just for your hearing loss. With Bluetooth connectivity built in they now allow user to stream their TV, music, phones tablets and more directly into their ears. They can make and receive calls when bluetooth connected to a mobile phone. Some have Fitbit chips built into them to measure your daily activity. There are many more features which I will cover in future blogs, but the time has come to stop calling them “Hearing Aids” and realise that they are more of a “Lifestyle Device”. Who know, maybe even one day people will were them when they are getting their wedding pictures…