I personally have had some sort of corrective lenses for my vision since the 2nd grade. Aside from many stupid injuries due to clumsiness (countless), I am a fairly healthy person. So when something goes wrong with my body, my first reaction is irritation/frustration. Then curiosity.
So if I have to suffer through glasses/contacts for the rest of my life (yes I know surgery is a thing, but I’m not there yet) then I need to know how it all works. From the science side, your eyes work like a series of lenses that take in different amounts of light and focuses them into the pictures we see.
More exactly, light rays enter the eye through the cornea and get bent so that they can pass freely through the pupil the opening in the center of the iris. The iris works like a shutter in a camera. It has the ability to enlarge and shrink, depending on how much light is entering the eye.
After passing through the iris, the light rays pass thru the eye’s natural crystalline lens. This clear, flexible structure works like the lens in a camera, shortening and lengthening its width in order to focus light rays properly. In a normal eye, the light rays come to a sharp focusing point on the retina where all of them are captured and processed into light impulses through millions of tiny nerve endings, then send these light impulses through over a million nerve fibers to the optic nerve.
So all lenses, in eyes or not, work by the distance between the lens and focal point and that’s determined by the curvature of the lens. That’s why all it takes is a slight adjustment of distances to focus a camera lens.
Unfortunately we can’t do that with our eyes. They do a lot of auto focusing on their own, but when the shape of your eye, the shape of the lenses in your eyes changes, it can’t auto focus on it’s own. I have myopia, more commonly known as near sightedness. This happens when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too curved.
So in order to correct this change in shape you need some sort of corrective lens in front of the natural lens to adjust that focal length so that the light is focused directly on the retina and everything is crystal clear.
Now as a 28 year old, I know all of this and I understand all of this, but if you would’ve tried to explain this to little 2nd grade Dani, it would’ve gone right over my head. Even just telling me that there was something better than the vision I had was suspicious. In my mind, I could see just fine no matter what anyone told me. But now over 20 years later I don’t remember anyone explaining to me how glasses work, what I do remember, very vividly, is the intense feeling of awe and wonder I felt when I put on my glasses for the first time and walked into the waiting room. I looked out my doctor’s window at a tree. When I looked at that tree and I could see every single leaf on it, I could see them each individually moving in the wind. That memory has stuck with me and the feeling always will.
At this point you can probably guess where I’m going. In the gospels there are quite a few different stories of Jesus healing the blind. The gospels mention these types of stories at least 5 times, but there could be some overlap since many stories are retold in different gospels. But clearly it’s a main point all of the gospel writers wanted to mention. And for years as I was going through religious education or when I listened to homilies or when I was hearing talks on retreats, I heard the same thing over and over…
Person of authority: “When we hear this story in the gospel, we must understand that Jesus is healing their physical ailment, but he’s also helping them to see the truth of the situation, to remove the blindness from their hearts. As you listen, think about your own life and how you are blind to the truths of this world. Pray that you may have your blindness removed.”
If I can have that much awe and wonder at seeing leaves on a tree, I am so excited for the beauty and amazement that is coming for me when I am able to more fully see the glory of our God.