Hi, I’m Charlotte, founder of Minus.
My relationship with glasses has always been a bit complicated. My dating app bio literally reads “looking for someone to help me find my glasses after I’ve taken my contact lenses out”. I’m guessing you joke about your bad eyes too.
I’ve needed glasses from about age 13, and since then my prescription has deteriorated to -9.5 in my right, and -8 in my left. I’ve heard ‘you’re not due for an eye test’ so many times from my (ex) optician, and then gone through the rigmarole of explaining why I’m coming back in.
After most appointments, I’ve had a little cry on the way home. Which I told myself was really stupid, and why am I upset about my eyes getting worse?
I’ll always remember someone in my family coming home from an eye test, absolutely devastated because they needed glasses and couldn’t go on to be a military pilot - something they’d been working towards in the cadets. This rule has changed now but the RAF still go by “whatever role you're applying for, your spectacle or contact lens correction must not be greater than -7 diopters or +8 diopters in any meridian”. Which for safety reasons I understand.
And then there was the time that I slipped getting out the shower because I couldn’t see that the floor was wet. I practically surfed on the shower mat across the bathroom before landing and cutting my arm open. I got patched up on the way to work at a chemist. This experience was a little scary as I live on my own and I really don’t want to be found unconscious and naked in my flat!
So when you think about it, glasses wearers actually have to put up with quite a lot. Not to mention the expense of glasses and lens thinning. Plus the shocking choice of frames that we can actually wear when we combine our thicker lenses.
Which has lead me to create Minus - a collection of specs that I actually like, and don't feel stuck with. When I set out, I started researching how many people actually have high prescriptions. The impression my optician had always given me is that I'm a super rare creature, and it's mainly because of genetics. But as it turns out, this is not strictly true. About 4% of the UK population have a prescription of over -6, and this is due to more than double by 2050. High myopia (short-sightedness) is actually a huge global health and economic concern, which some are calling an epidemic (backed up by reports from The WHO).
As well as genetics, near work (e.g. reading, texting), and time outdoors seem to play a big role in deterioration, particularly in child development. The situation is extremely bad in countries with intense school systems like China.
So the problems go way beyond having a super limited choice of frames that work with thicker lenses. These topics quickly became my focus throughout this project, that I want to advocate through the brand in the future. I don’t have all the answers at this very moment, but I want to help and work out what those are, hopefully bringing you along with me.
Charlotte Dickinson, founder of Minus