The room was candlelit dark—apart from the blinding light directed into one of my eyes. I felt cool fingers pull down on the skin just below my left eye. Oh, how I wanted to jerk back and say, “Hey! You just undid four months of anti-wrinkle cream treatments with that one careless move!” But I refrained.
“Look to the left. Look to the right. Look up. Look down.” These were the words I heard and then heard repeated as my optometrist shifted her focus to the right side of my face.
This was the last test in line for my annual, incredibly long, No End in Sight vision test. I really had to make a note to book half a day for this appointment next year.
So many exams, with large hunks of plastic where you–please put your chin in the tray and look through the lens. It didn’t matter how many antibacterial wipes the staff quickly swished over the equipment. This was flu and cold season. I was bound to walk out of here with something the CDC hadn’t quite been successful in developing a vaccine for.
Exam number one was a test where I peered through a porthole and watched a hot air balloon in the distance come in and out of focus, but the only thing that became clear to me was that I would really like to be on that guy.
Next was the ‘puff of air’ Glaucoma test, designed to measure the pressure in your eye. I wonder if it could also detect the pressure in my head, as I had a bucketload on my plate today and always felt that this particular test was just one most physicians threw in for fun as a Made you blink! game.
The Visual Acuity test has me sweating before I even place one hand over one eye. Reading the eye chart letters seems somehow slightly judgmental when my doctor used to say, “Fantastic! High Five!” and now simply sighs and then clucks her tongue as she puts notes on my chart.
HEY! IT’S NOT LIKE I COULD STUDY!
Cuz I would have.
The Ishihara Color Vision test is the only fun test given, and if a physician truly wants to go whole hog, she will show you up to 38 “plates” within the book that display pictures of colored dots surrounding a number that, to someone without color blindness, appear in multiple different colors.
It’s rather similar to the random dot autostereogram artwork—the Magic Eye paintings—that allow folks to see 3D images while gazing at 2D pictures. If it weren’t for the headache that followed, I could stare at those puzzles all day long.
The refraction test is always one I stumble through embarrassingly. That monster multi-lens device gets swung in front of your head and you’re asked to peer through the glass and read the line of Morse code on the very bottom of the eye chart while the doctor flips through a series of choices. “Do you like A or B … A or B?”
“Umm … could we do them again?”
“A or B? … A or BEEEE?”
“I’ll take A—No wait! B. B. B! Yes, I’ll take B. I think.”
It would be so much easier if she just let me do it myself. It might take me a while to go through the manual and figure out what flips what and how many ticks I rotate through, but it would be a helluva lot more accurate because a massive amount of pressure would be alleviated. I’m itching to say, “Just go see the guy in examining room three and give me about fifteen minutes. I’ll have this all sorted out by then. You’re welcome.”
The test for macular degeneration is one that’s not only challenging to take, but challenging to say. Sometimes I’ll just ask everyone wearing some sort of a uniform in the office about macular degeneration simply to see just how easily it rolls off their tongue. Bit of a twister.
But the test itself is one of quick response and reflexes. Cover one eye, put your chin on the petri dish, and stare at the black dot in the middle of the screen. You’ll see something that looks like graph paper there. It’s called an Amsler Grid—probably after some scientist who loved trigonometry. They give you a handheld device with a button and tell you to stare only at the black dot, clicking the button any time you see something moving, flashing or flitting about on the grid. Well I find this hugely frustrating and nearly impossible as firstly, when someone says, “Don’t look at the pink woolly mammoth in the room,” everyone immediately starts searching for the pink woolly mammoth, and secondly, I’m constantly apologizing to the technician saying, “Whoops! Don’t count that press of the button. I’m pretty sure that was just a floater.”
I fail this test miserably and we all begin to suspect I am either on the irreversible road to blindness or a flea has gotten into the machine. It doesn’t matter. I’m getting used to personally letting down my physician.
The Pupil Dilation test is likely my least favorite, as it renders you nearly incapacitated.
They plop the stingy drops into your eyes, the drops leak down the side of your face and stream into your ears, taking with them half the mascara you applied for the day, and then everyone leaves you to stare into space while the drops take effect. Within minutes you cannot read, and because of the leftover drops in both ears, you can’t even listen to music or podcasts because everyone sounds like they’re under water.
I sit. And wait. And pilfer the examining room drawers for samples. I now have enough sterile gloves to start selling back to the World Health Organization for a fraction of what they’re probably paying for them now, and be able to pay for both my kids’ college education within my first week of commerce.
We round out the exam with another paralyzing light directed through my eyeball and landing somewhere at the back of my skull. I am finished. For another year. And as always I am left with the parting gift of sage advice from my physician.
Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses.
Take a break from staring at your computer.
And at your age, perhaps next year you might want to entertain the idea of getting a pair of reading glasses.
(insert sound of record scratching here)
Wha?? AT MY AGE???
That is a careless and cruel farewell she gives me, and I vow to erase those dastardly words from my still soggy ears.
I walk out of her office with one helpful, sedating phrase: Out of sight, out of mind.
November Gotta Have a Gott
In January, Rob and I announced that his sketches will be available toward the end of the year in the form of a 2015 calendar! And our readers would get to be the judges and voters for which doodles they’d like to see selected for each month. Last week, we revealed the winners, and today you can vote for the last month in the running and sign up to purchase Rob’s cartoons in calendar form. If you’ve Gotta have a GOTT, place your order today ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and also see the cartoons in November’s competition so you can cast your vote.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.
- Why Can’t Some People See Magic Eye Pictures? (http://www.mentalfloss.com)
- 5 Food for Healthy Eyes (http://www.health.com)
- Eye Visit (http://www.youtube.com) This is hilarious!