Monday, February 8, 2010

Doctor, My Eyes

Even with my fuzzy vision, I could see that my optometrist had made a mistake last week.

The prescription for the contact lenses he gave me was actually weaker instead of stronger.

He double-checked his computer and shook his head.

"No, that's the right strength. You're sight has improved a little bit in your left eye," he said. "Put in the lenses and I'll show you."

I sensed I was being Punk'd.

detached retina2 I have worn glasses since the 4th grade and contacts since 7th and not once has my vision ever improved between examinations. I have cursed my corrective lenses, lost them, broke them, had them give me nasty corneal abrasions, and did I mention cursing them? A lot?

Even though I have been told I’m a good candidate for laser surgery, I have never seriously considered it for two reasons:

  • My lifelong goal of avoiding operations. Mostly successful at that one. Dang you, fertile loins! You cost me a perfect record!
  • I witnessed My Love’s laser surgery via closed circuit video while simultaneously changing Thing 1’s diaper in the doctor’s waiting room. On both counts – eeeeeewww!

Therefore, if not for the miracle of polycarbonate plastics and hydrogels, I'd be walking around with two corrective Art Deco glass bricks strapped over my peepers.

About 15 year ago, when my then-regular optometrist was on vacation or sick or possibly just putting his newly Lasiked retinas to the test in a poorly lit strip club, his temporary replacement decided my eyesight was not just poor but lopsided. Possibly fearing that I'd permanently pull to the right, maybe to the point of spinning in clockwise circles until I turned to butter, he jiggered with my new prescription to slightly weaken my stronger eye and slightly strengthen my weaker eye.

The result: I was slightly off kilter for the next six months. It was kind of like how I image Keith Richards feels all the time.

I got my prescription fixed before the feeling got too nice.

I'm not sure whatever happened to that fill-in eye doc but I sense he headed up to Alaska and set up shop in Wasilla, you becha!

When I moved a few years later, the new optometrist I had told me I had floaters.

Floaters are like optical space junk -- bits of useless material just kind of hanging around the ether. Most people have some (they look like little twisted and transparent versions of Plankton from "SpongeBob Squarepants") but they are normally cruising your eye's periphery and out of sight. When you have too many of them and they start interfering with your viewing of Gabrielle Anwar's short-short jumpers on Burn Notice, well then, you’re in trouble.

"Do I have them that bad?" I asked him.

"Oh, definitely not. But if they get that bad, let me know," he said. "You're eye might fall out."

Actually he said "your retina may detach" but that's not how my mind processed it at the time.

Back to my current optometrist. A little while back, he showed me a digital image of my eyes and pointed out some vague abnormality.

"If you ever start seeing flashes of light, call me immediately," he said. "Your eye might fall out."

"You mean my retina may detach?"

"That's what I said. What did you think I said?"

"Never mind."

"But the chances of this are pretty small. Maybe 1 in 10,000."

Odds, schmodds.

Thing 1 has an autoimmune disease that only about 3 in a million children in the United States are diagnosed with annually. Given this information from my optometrist, I now panic any time someone unexpectedly flips on a light.

I'm sitting in the chair last week and the good doctor is now holding one monocle after another in front of my left eye.

He's right.

I can see much better with the weaker prescription that the stronger one.

"Sometimes we doctors want to make our patients too happy. We want them to walk out of here feeling like we've made an immediate difference and we overcorrect,” he said.

I then apologized to him for being such a boring patient.

He looked relieved.

His patient before me, he said, was a young person with brain cancer who he’s been working with for more than a year. As he talked his voice wavered and his focus moved to something off beyond the walls of his office.

“Boring is good,” he said. “Let’s get you that new prescription.”

But clarity had already been achieved without them.


  1. May each day be more boring than the next.

    (But dang, now my floaters will be dancing to the SpongeBob theme every time they make an appearance. Thanks!)

  2. So thankful I still don't need glasses - yet.
    You've got a great optometrist!
    Boring definitely sounds good. :)

  3. I meant "last"

    Hmmmm, maybe I need to a new prescription......

  4. My eyes got better this year, as well! So that makes two of us. The one thing I do regret is that I really can't see well with my contacts and reader glasses combo. Regular glasses are perfect, but I hate them since I wore them throughout all of school.

    My Mom has had retinal issues in the past (in fact I think I blogged about it once - or I think I blogged about it). It was very scary. But there's not much to do about it except wait. And that is, indeed, the scariest part.

    P.S. My optometrist asked a few years ago if I had considered Lasik and I said "No" and he said "Good for you!" and with lots more explaining said he had had repeat surgeries yet still had to wear glasses, especially for reading. No Lasik for me, either.

  5. "•I witnessed My Love’s laser surgery via closed circuit video while also changing Thing 1’s diaper in the doctor’s waiting room. On both counts – eeeeeewww!"

    I could see where those experiences would make an impact on you.

  6. I wish my eyes would get better! Much like you, I have been wearing glasses since I was a little kid, and contacts since I was in High School.

  7. PS: This sentence made me laugh out loud, "I was slightly off kilter for the next six months. It was kind of like how I image Keith Richards feels all the time."


  8. I don't know how much eye docs emphasize it, but one's visual acuity on any given day at a given time is variable. Have your eyes examined and a prescription determined on a day when you are tired, have allergy-irritated eyes, have taken one of many medications, are having blood pressure (and therefore ocular pressure) elevations...And I will guaran-darn-tee-you that your eyeglass script will be 'off'. For females, hormonal fluctuations and pregnancy affect vision testing results, as well...Rest easy on this last one, "Mr. Always Home and Uncool". I hope your new specs are good! God Bless, Rev Barb

  9. Nothing should stand in a man's view of Gabriele's short shorts.
    I'm tempted to play a drinking game that either drinks when she threatens to blow something up or when a barely clad female crosses the screen.
    Really just an excuse to drink.
    Cheers to the eye candy.
    See I talked about eyes, right?

  10. I love that the ad banner across the top of your page is for Lasik surgery. I have to wear reading glasses. Adorable, sexy librarian reading glasses that I whip off when the giant fans kick on and cause my hair to fall from its clip and the hard rock soundtrack to blast through my house. It's a burden growing older. Such a burden.

  11. i too, have been myopic since early elementary. and a contact wearer for gah… thirty some-odd years? yikes. i need a white cane and a dog with a harness!

    glad your retinas are still attached. not fun from what i hear.

    but watch too much baseball, and i think you're flirting with disaster!

    thanks for stopping by!

  12. Thanks for a post that magnified my PMS. I laughed at the picture. I cried at the end.

    That said, I've been blind as hell since second grade. Wore contacts for about 10 years and lately just feel like I can't be bothered with them anymore; something about stabbing my half-asleep fingers in my eyes before a 3:30am ambulance call made me long for the 'unfold, apply, and SEE' days of glasses-wearing.

  13. I remember floaters...right after I ate something a tie-dyed bespecalled youth gave me a Dead show once. Maybe he was a future over-corrector.

    glad to 'see' you!

  14. I have now had my 2nd retinal detachment and second surgery for it. the first surgery was in the office back around 1996. this last one, the office sent me to the emergency room and had their associate who was on call do the surgery. I still have 2-4 weeks to go before it will be known if this recent surgery was successful. (the first one was.) when I googled images for "retina detachment", I came across the picture on this page and totally cracked up. why do I find it hilariously funny? I have no idea whatsoever but have the feeling you are as ________ challenged as I am. (fill in the blank with whatever word you please.) also, a word of wisdom... (I learned this about two weeks ago.) NEVER defy a glass wall. if it is thin, both of you will lose. if it is thick, only you will lose. and if you are lucky, a bump on your head will be your worst injury. no matter how you see it or don't see it, trust me on this, a glass door will not mysteriously evaporate into air to please you because you are too stupid to realize that the entry way is that other clear area next to the one that you thought was a clear area and tried to go through. and your eyes that did not bother to tell you to look before you weep will not only punish you by letting you get that bump on your head, one of them simply might fall out.


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