Ocular Misadventures


Hot on the heels of my post of a few weeks ago about the explorations in the deepest, darkest parts of my colon, I’m going for another doctor related post.  It’s what we Boomers do – talk about our visits to the doctor.  ZZZzzzzzz…

Last week I went for my bi-annual eye exam.  I went to a new O.D. Everybody in the office was very nice and extremely friendly. Everybody told me how happy they were that I chose their practice. I was immediately suspicious.  This is Atlanta.  Nobody in a customer service position here acts like that.  Must proceed with caution.

I don’t like going to the eye doctor anyway.   I hate the inevitable “gives you farsighted vampire eyes unable to read or be in the sunlight” drops to dilate your eyes.  And I always seem to get the techs who were former Abu Ghraib interrogators.  They position the eye dropper 4 feet above your eyes and then squeeze.  You endure the agony watching the drops fall and fall and fall before they plop into each eye stinging the crap out of them.  I’m sweating now just thinking about it.

But last week, I was offered a choice.  I could have the normal “Guantanamo Bay Special” eye drops or, for $35 extra, a new procedure that takes a picture of the inside of your eyeball.  No drops, no sting and no vampire blindness.  They could have charged $135 and I still would have signed up.  Don’t tell them that.

After the pictures and some other odd tests (“Click the buttons when you see the shimmering lines appear.” WTF?), we moved on to what is second only to the eye drops as my most stressful and anxiety ridden part of the eye exam.  I like to call it the “Is it better here or (sound of lens clicking) here?” conundrum.

They put this huge mechanical contraption in front of your face that looks like the old big binocular machine that was at the U.S. Grand View Hotel on Rt 30 in Pennsylvania back in the 60’s.  You’d put a nickel in and you could see three states and seven counties.  Only I don’t see three states and seven counties from the OD’s contraption; just lines of random letters of different sizes.  Downer.

Then starts the incessant, relentless questioning.  Can you read the third line down?  No?  Then they spin the dials and flip things around.  Can you read line three now?  Is it better here or here? Over and over and over…

At this point, I have line three memorized so it wouldn’t matter if they put a hood over my head.  I could recite line three in my sleep. This whole process could use a little more creativity.  It’s really easy to cheat.

They continue to madly spin dials and flip lenses.  “Can you read line three better with #1 or [click] #2?”  Sometimes the answer is obvious. But most of the time it pretty much looks the same to me. But they want an answer.  They’re insisting on an answer.  Now. Dear God in heaven….I can’t tell a difference!  My hands start to get clammy, my respiration gets shallow and I feel my heart pounding in my teeth.

I try to stall for time.  I ask them to see #1 and #2 again.  They’re not happy with me.  They’re starting to speak in clipped phrases with tight lips and a slight Brooklyn accent.  They aren’t going to take “I can’t tell the difference” for an answer again.  I think might wind up in the cornerstone of some new building or at the bottom of a river if I don’t come up with an answer.  Fast.  I desperately try to figure out if #1 is truly better than #2.  I blurt out an answer. “NUMBER 2! IT’S NUMBER 2!

I need a Xanex after we are done with the binocular machine.

Satisfied that I’ve been beaten into ocular submission, the doctor puts my eyeball pictures up on the computer screen.  I perk up.  I’m an anatomy geek so it’s very cool to see the inside of my eyeball.  He says my optic nerve looks great.  He says my macula looked perfect. In both eyes.  He says that I have the eyeballs of a 20 year old.  I’m thinking, “Yeah I do!”

Then he says, “Except for the cataracts that are starting. See the cloudiness?”

Yeah, I do.  Shit.

So I need to be careful when I’m in the sun.  Aside from the sunscreen I have to slather myself with to prevent skin cancer, age spots and wrinkles, now I have to wear polarized sunglasses all the time to protect my eyes from the evil UV rays seeking to destroy my vision. This will “delay” the development of the cataracts so that I probably won’t need surgery for 10 years or so.

You can run but you can’t hide from a body that has been around for 60+ years.  Some wear and tear is creeping in.  It happens to all of us who are lucky enough to stick around for this long…

Aging gracefully my ass!

16 thoughts on “Ocular Misadventures

  1. Thanks for the reminder. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor. It’s been two years. Crap. Which looks better? This…click…or this? “You’re the professional, Doc, you tell me which looks better, dammit.” I hate that, too.


    • Yeah – why do they put all the pressure on us?? Ugh… My new Stepford OD (“Welcome to our office! We’re so glad you’re here!”) said that I need to come back every year now since I have “issues”. Ugh… On a happier note, one of the days Doobster, please repost the piece you did on getting glasses. I think that was one of the first posts of yours I read and it really did make me laugh out loud!


  2. Ugh I just went to the eye doctor as well and was informed I now “need glasses no matter what” (whereas before I could wear them if I wanted but didn’t need to). Supposedly my astigmatism has gotten so bad my eyes can’t make up for it anymore. Aging is truly no fun.

    p.s. that “which is better, number 1 or 2” always freaks me out, too!


  3. I had my annual eye exam last week, so I can relate too. However I worked part time for an ophthalmologist for about three years back in the late ’90s, and get the “which is better” thing now. The big contraption is called a phoropter and the tech or the doctor will enter your current prescription into it. By clicking the lenses either one higher or one lower and asking you which looks better they can determine the correct power for each eye. It’s my understanding that when you get to the point where you can’t really tell a difference, then that is the stopping point. This time when I did it I noticed that some changes made the letters smaller and darker, but not necessarily clearer. Other changes raised the letters up in my vision, but didn’t improve clarity. It’s all a very subjective process. Don’t sweat it though. We’re not being graded. Thankfully. 🙂

    And my ophthalmologist told me that I have “age appropriate” cataracts. I’m hoping that’s the only thing age appropriate about me.


    • Love your attitude! Let’s make a pact never to be age appropriate if we can help it. Thanks for the “inside scoop” on the big binocular machine! I think one time I actually did answer the question wrong and got the wrong lens prescription. That was embarrassing! I had to do it all again. Oh the shame…


  4. This was so funny.
    Because I’ve been wearing glasses since I was about 10 years old, I’m very familiar with the eye exam since I’ve had to do it every year since then. You captured the “better here or better here” query exactly right. I used to worry when it didn’t look any different with either choice thinking that something was seriously wrong with me, but now I just shrug my shoulders, say “it’s neither here nor there” and let them figure it out.


    • I’m amazed that Rocco the OD Enforcer didn’t take you for “a little walk” with that “it’s neither here nor there” answer! You’re OD’s must be more mellow than the ones we have here in Atlanta! 🙂 Thanks for the smile!


  5. I too hate “which one is better”. i never know! here’s the upside on cataracts. I have had poor distance vision most of my life–bad astigmatism. Cataract surgery was covered under insurance, along with most of the cost of new lenses implanted in my eyes. I no longer need glasses…and my doc under corrected one eye, so i don’t need reading glasses. I see better now than I did when I was 10 years old. Finally, an upside to aging!

    Love your sense of humor! I am your fan.


    • Very much an upside for you! I’m jealous – I’d LOVE to get “new eyes”! The eye doc said that it will probably be about 10 years before I would need surgery. Maybe I can him to push it up about 9 years? Thanks much for smiling at my silliness and your kind comment!


  6. Yup I have slight cataract developing in 1 eye. Sigh. I do wear sunglasses everytime I go outdoors. Even on cloudy days.

    In some dumb way, that’s another reason why I blog, do art sometimes and take beautiful pics: I may see less at the end of life!


    • Sounds as if you are doing everything you can to see more for as long as possible! Kudos! And remember, you can get the cataracts removed when they get “bad enough” (whatever that means!) With all of the aging Boomers, I bet they’ll be able to do it faster and cheaper and better very, very soon. I’m certainly counting on that!


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