THERE are many things people take for granted. The more essential and seemingly natural it is, the more it is assumed as a right that cannot be taken away. Life, health, and the birth of a non-defective baby are often seen in this light.
But perhaps something that many people really consider a given is sight. Because it is used to see everything else, it is the one thing that cannot actually be seen in itself -- short of looking in the mirror and seeing its agent, the eyes. For sighted people, the eyes are not only used to read, watch television and look at things; it is also used to navigate movement of the body. Most importantly, it helps us comprehend the world around us. For, the sighted have a different ontology from the non-sighted. This matters, because the world is largely designed and given interpretation by the sighted, for the sighted. And although political-correctness labels the non-sighted as "differently-abled", for as long as the world is not designed to cater to different disabilities, blindness will remain a disability; and sight something to be valued, cherished, and protected.
To teenage girls, the politics of ability and disability couldn't be farther from the concerns of their everyday life. School, exams, friendship, love, and being "in" with the "It"-group are, happily, the usual trials and tribulations of a teenager's life. To lose one's sight, to be blind and to have to adapt to a mismatched world, is not right up there in their list of life's paths.
This carelessness and ignorance is partially responsible for the coloured contact lens craze now afflicting the young. Primarily of course, it is driven by fashion -- a contemporary, transitory (and often illusive) interpretation of what is beautiful. Beauty is something that few humans would eschew; and in reasonable doses, vanity or pride in one's appearance is not a bad thing. But when that beauty comes at the cost of possibly bartering away such a precious possession as sight, it is crucial to take a step back and assess one's priorities. Contact lenses, whether coloured or clear, for decorative or corrective purposes, are medical devices that must be prescribed by medical practitioners, and must be accorded the respect and carefulness of medication. If one is unwilling or unable to do this, one should abstain from imbibing in it; more particularly with cheap, unregulated knockoffs. Those inclined towards coloured contact lenses must be educated on the risks. For, beauty can come at a price; and blindness should not be the price anyone is willing to pay.