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