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It’s A Trap!

As you may know, while I am awesome in many ways, I am sorely lacking in the vision department.  I have worn glasses or contacts for many, many years and that means lots and lots of visits to the optometrist.

As doctor visits go, the eye doctor is minimally invasive and painless.  I’ve also been blessed with some truly wonderful optometrists that I enjoy seeing.  All this aside, I still despise the eye exam.  I would rather have a tooth drilled and donate blood, all while getting a pap smear, than go for my eye exam.  Every minute of the eye exam feels like I’m being set up for some elaborate practical joke.  The pressure to get it right is just enormous.

  1. The Chart.  You know the chart.  I am forced (or, more accurately, politely asked) to take out my contacts, cover one eye, then read as much of the chart as I can see.  Chart?  What chart?  All I see is a blurry spot on the wall.  This is the wrong answer.  You will not be released from the chart exercise until you have correctly identified the characters upon it, or at least given it the old college try.  I am led to believe that they are letters and numbers.  I have been know to read the chart like this:  “A, E, is that a G?, maybe a Z and I think that’s a flower.”  Look, Doctor, you have my history right in front of you.  You know I can’t see anything.  Why must we continue this embarrassment?  Wait, is that a smiley face there?  (No.  It’s a W.)
  2. The Blinky Light Machine.  I’m certain there’s a name for it, but I surely don’t know it.  It’s the one where you stick your face in a machine, stare straight ahead, then click a button any time you see a light flash in your peripheral vision.  I’m surprised that I haven’t yet been referred some manner of psychologist to address the imaginary flashing lights I see.  My brain goes into overtime for this test and my reflexes shut down.  Yes, I saw a light a minute ago, I guess I’ll press the button now.  I’m pretty sure the only conclusion that my doctor can draw from this test is that I’m slow and I see things that aren’t there.  And don’t see things that are there.  I can only imagine the plethora of “WTF”s that must be in my chart.
  3. Which is better?  This is the portion of the exam when I am presented countless choices for my vision improvement and I am in charge of determining which is better.  The first one, or the second one?  Or this third one?  It’s easy at first, then it gets tricky and my blood pressure starts to rise.  Is that better?  Are they the same?  Am I going to say it’s better, then find out that they were all the same after all?  Is this test going to end with the doctor laughing at the freak girl who thought the first one was better, when it was actually the second one?  Of course, that’s never happened, but it could.  About halfway through this exercise, I am just done.  I can’t maintain that stress level for long.  They’re the same, that one’s better, I don’t know, I just don’t know.  Can I please just have my new contacts?
  4. Dilation.  I know I’m not alone here, we all hate this part. I don’t care how many time I have my eyes dilated, I am going to be surprised by the result every single time.  Yes, I know I’ll need sunglasses.  That’s the easy part.  The hard part is getting back to work (since I will invariably go to the doctor on my lunch hour) and trying to read an email.  Dilated eyes will not focus.  They will not do it, no matter how much you will them to, and I am rendered helpless, sitting at my desk, wailing, “I can’t see a damn thing!”
  5. The Conclusion.  At some point near the end of the exam, my doctor is going to do the math and realize that I have made my year’s worth of disposable contact lenses last every bit of three years.  And I will be chastised, gently though it may be.  Yes, I know they’re called thirty-day disposables for a reason.  Yes, I know it’s bad for my eyes.  Yes, I have vision insurance that pays for them.  I also have a full-time job, two kids, a husband and household to run and not a whole lot of extra time to track contact-changings.  Not to mention a deep-seated frugal nature that does not allow me to toss things away if they still work.  I will wear them until I tear them in half, and then I will wear them for two more days.  And while I do appreciate the concern, my favorite optometrist of all time (who, sadly, no longer accepts my insurance) told me that he knew I would not follow the rules, so he ordered me the heavy-duty contacts that can take such abuse.  Isn’t it a lovely thing when we are understood?

I am a reasonable and mostly rational adult and I know that all of these tests are necessary and helpful in order for me to see.  I could not live in a world without my optometrist.  I know they’re not really trying to trick me, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re in the chair and you just do not know the right answer.  It’s a stupid and helpless feeling when you can’t see something that you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to see, and I don’t handle stupid and helpless in any mature fashion.  Perhaps this is why I am the master of making a two-year prescription last five years, through cleverly timed internet contact lens orders and sneaky calls to the doctor’s office.  Oh, I know that they know what I’m up to, but at least I don’t have to read the chart.

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  1. July 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

    OHMYGOD I could have written this post! We are exactly alike in the vision/contacts department! Over here in the UK they mail me new ones every 3 months. THEY MAIL THEM TO me and i still fail to change them at the end of the month! You know that feeling when you put a fresh one in one eye and you are like OMG I CAN SEE! lol
    What freaking chart? Could you at least tell me which wall it is on?
    The last time I went to get my eyes checked they had me take out my contacts, do some tests and then return to the waiting room. Are you serious? My kids had to help me find a chair.

    • July 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Oh, I know, they sent me back out to the waiting room blind, too!! I KNOW they know the state of my vision, is this just a dirty trick or what?

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