Get to Your Eye Appointment!

Three years have passed since I got my last pair of glasses. I decided maybe it was time to visit the optometrist, have my vision checked, and consider getting new glasses. Of course in terms of pleasure or motivation, visiting the eye doc ranks second to say, getting a root canal. Short of walking around in a blur or in a constant corrective squint, suffering from double vision, or enduring stinging or throbbing eyeballs, who would willingly schedule a visit with the eye doc?

To begin with, there’s the mandatory ‘puff of air’ eye test where you plant your chin on a machine and position your eye a toothpick’s width away from the source of the pressurized puff, then hold your eye wide open to receive the spontaneous blast of air thrust directly onto your eyeball, startling you off your seat, first the left eyeball, and then, before you can gather your bearings, ‘Poof!’ the assault to the right eyeball. The puff of air holds the unique distinction of traumatizing nearly every civilized human being from early childhood through adulthood, a test you can’t get out of no matter the excuse, unless you have fallen into cardiac arrest, because the puff of air checks eye pressure. And then there’s the eye drops, which you can’t get out of either, however, if fast enough, you can slam your eyes shut so the drops hit sealed lids, sabotaging the drops’ ability to penetrate and dilate your pupils. (I learned this from one of our kids.)

They’ve come up with a new test, I learned at my visit this past week, involving a machine that measures your peripheral vision. Per the usual optical assessment machine, you set your chin in the fixed metal chin support and affix your eye on the vision field while holding a clicking device. Once you are in position the technician alerts you that the test has started. A feint blob of pale squiggly lines appears at random places and time intervals on the screen and every time you see it you hit the clicker. All set up and ready to go, I was suddenly afflicted with a nose itch so intense I wanted to yell “Abort!” and pull away to engage in a scratch-and-rub orgy with my left nostril. But the technician has already declared, “The test has started!” and I’m scrambling to get up to speed blurting out loud that I have a nose itch, to no avail. Blood pressure rises as I manage the distraction of the itch against the task of clicking at what I perceive to be the sight of this feint blob of squiggly lines popping up on the screen, sometimes not peripherally, but in the middle of the screen, hey isn’t this a peripheral vision test? Mind overload here. Need to scratch my nose!

I managed to pass the peripheral vision test while also confirming my inability to multitask with a nose itch. This same phenomenon occurs when I’m in the dentist chair. I can hardly hold my mouth open, coping with a nose itch. To my hygienist’s credit, she allows me at first signals of distress to raise upright from my dental cleaning position to scratch my nose. The nose itch phenomenon occurs nearly every time I get my teeth cleaned.

Have you ever considered the bedside manner of your optometrist? Exactly. No you haven’t. Your optician or optometrist is at the other end of the optical machine flipping incremental vision correction lenses or some such thing. The conversation goes like this:

Which is clearer, 1 or 2?
2?
3 or 4?
uh…
3 or 4?
I think 4
5 or 6?
5 … maybe
7 or 8?
8?
9 or 10? Tell me when they look the same
They look the same! (all the while wondering how much your answers have screwed up your glasses prescription and when you can be done so you can scratch your nose.)

I’m happy to report that after all was said and done the tests revealed relatively good news, that is, my long distance vision got a little worse, enough as to warrant a new pair of glasses, but hardly significant since I’ve been legally blind since grade school anyway. Since the biggest E on the sight chart is only readable to me without my glasses at 6 feet away, my distance vision appears to be about 20/800 meaning, without my glasses I can see at 20 feet what a normal 20/20 sighted person can see at 800 feet. Plus I have stage 1 cataracts that appear not to have worsened over the past three years, plus various peripheral specks and floaters and whatnot, ‘incident to age’.

So yeah, I got the drops. Two installments. I know my enormous black pupils probably weren’t bulging out of my eye sockets but my brain had me convinced they were. I tried to go trendy on my new frames, you know, large, round, dark purple or maybe dark red plastic frames like what Meryl Streep wears to the Oscars. Boy did they look ridiculous on me. Maybe I need the glittery gown, hairdo, stage, and jewels to complete the look.

But hey, driving home in those dark plastic disposable sunglasses you have to wear to protect your super-light-sensitive dilated pupils?

I was cruising down Hollywood Boulevard.

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2 Responses to “Get to Your Eye Appointment!”

  1. David Says:

    Uh, exactly why did you tell me that evening I should get an eye exam?

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