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Zoë’s Pet Peeves: Zoë Compares Wearing Glasses & Taking ADD Medication

Zoë's Pet Peeves - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of ADHD

“Just as a pair of glasses help the nearsighted person focus, so can medication help the person with ADD see the world more clearly.”

–Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D., Driven to Distraction


Did I read that right? I better go get my glasses…

Ok, I get it: I AM more focused when I take medication. But to compare downing a controlled substance to donning a pair of glasses, well, it’s an analogy that I’m just not comfortable with.

When researching ADHD meds, I came across this analogy often. It bugged me the first time I saw it, and  angered me again every time it popped up in another book, article, wherever. It seems to trivialize my decision to take a stimulant medication. My decision to do so was agonizing because I don’t take taking meds lightly.

North Americans have become far too casual about ingesting drugs for anything and everything that ails them.

Personally, the decision to take medication to treat my ADHD symptoms was a far graver one for me than that of wearing glasses. (To hear more about my decision-making process around taking a stimulant medication, click here.)

Here’s a short summary of how taking meds is and isn’t like wearing a pair of glasses:


  1. I don’t swallow my glasses.
  2. Wearing eyeglasses doesn’t give me tics or a dry mouth.
  3. I can take my glasses off.
  4. My glasses don’t interfere with or interact with the rest of my body’s chemistry (except for maybe leaving a red mark across the bridge of my nose).
  5. Glasses are cheaper than ADHD medication — WAY cheaper.
  6. No one has an opinion if you’re wearing glasses; lots of people do if you’re on a stimulant medication.
  7. Choosing a style of glasses is nowhere near as difficult as, for some, finding the right medication, in the right dose.
  8. I can share my glasses with someone else; it’s illegal for me to do this with my meds.
  9. The tools developed to test one’s eyes are standardised, well-established, and reliable. Whereas, depending on where you live, it can be tough to find someone to diagnose ADHD, and even tougher to find someone experienced enough to find the right med. With ADHD medications, trial and error can be involved. Through this process, the ADHDer can suffer immensely, for example, with strides forward followed by crashes or side-effects. With eyeglasses, you might require an extra visit to the optometrist’s office to bend one of the arms into shape — but you won’t have your brain bent out of shape.


  1. When I take them off, the effects go away.
  2. Both make me appear smarter. (My meds usually help me to refrain from blurting stupid or strange things.)
  3. I agonized at age 15 over having to wear my first pair of glasses. I felt embarrassed; I resisted; I resented the fact that I needed them to function. Why couldn’t I be perfect? I also resisted being on ADHD medication; I felt embarrassed; ashamed; inferior — why couldn’t I get through the day without a medication? Why couldn’t I be perfect?
  4. In spite of my resistance, both helped me tremendously and I have felt, at times, that I couldn’t function properly without them.
  5. I can share my glasses with someone else, but it might make them sick; ditto for the meds.
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Zoë’s Pet Peeves: Zoë Compares Wearing Glasses & Taking ADD Medication

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). Zoë’s Pet Peeves: Zoë Compares Wearing Glasses & Taking ADD Medication. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Jun 2013
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