The optometrist clicked on the lens and asked: “Which is better, line 1 or line 2?” We had been at this game for ten minutes, but to me it felt like an hour. I squinted my eyes together hoping it would help and, when it didn’t, I admitted to the doctor that I had no clue. In mock frustration, I added, “you’re the doctor, you tell me.”
The young doctor laughed at my lame attempt at sarcasm, but I really wasn’t joking. Getting your eyes checked annually is a good thing and I appreciate my eyesight, but I’ve come to dread the test. If you’ve been to an optometrist or ophthalmologist lately or wear contact lenses or glasses, you know what I’m talking about.
The doctor enters the room and runs through a flurry of tests all with the purpose or goal of seeing you fail. And oh, how I fail. Yes, I get that they have a “method to their madness,” but they need to test and prod for your weak points. Where is your point of failure?
For someone with poor vision like me, I spend the entire visit straining to be perfect and second guessing myself. I can make-out the third, fourth and fifth letters in the fifth line, but I’m guessing on the first two letters. Was the first letter an O or a Q? And what about the second: an E or a C? Does that count?
Two eyes become four
I first started having problems seeing in the fourth grade. My eye doctor diagnosed me as being nearsighted, meaning I can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Nearsighted or myopia affects nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population.
Oh I get that it could be worse, much worse. I even considered Lasik surgery a few years ago, but I would’ve probably still needed reading glasses. I used to wear contact lenses and loved them, but over time the curvature of my eyes has made it problematic finding the right pair of contact lenses, so I’ve been stuck ever since with glasses.
When I was young, getting glasses was actually new and a little fun. Oh I had to deal with the “Four Eyes” jokes and felt self-conscious that my glasses made me appear geeky, but I tended to get over it quickly. I couldn’t change it, I had to live with it.
And after four decades, I’ve definitely gotten over wearing glasses, but there are still days where I wouldn’t mind violently stepping on my glasses on the sidewalk in front of my house. In the end, I remind myself that demolishing the glass would change nothing, except for making my daily routine all the more interesting. (Yes, that would definitely be an interesting commute to work.)
Stiff kick in the behind
In the end, life has a way of reminding us of who’s really in charge.
For example, when I left my eye doctor’s office last week, I left feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately for me, my prescription had changed very little, just a few tweaks here and there, but I was still frustrated by the test.
I stumbled out of the office and nearly ran into another patient. Before I could say anything, the little old lady apologized to me and said, “Oh these damn cataracts, I can’t see where I’m going.”
When I had waited for my turn to see the doctor, I had overheard the lady tell another patient that she had just turned 79. I thanked her for her kindness, but told her that the accident was my fault, that I had rudely run into her, and that my two clumsy feet weren’t watching where they were going. We joked back and forth for a couple more seconds and I was soon on my way again. I couldn’t help but wonder if God wasn’t trying to use the mini-accident to tell me something. If nothing else, to make me more grateful for my vision.
I got into my car and reminded myself that I’m fortunate to have relatively healthy eyes, and decided that the first letter on the fifth line most certainly was a O.