Friday, March 15, 2013

20/20? Eye Don't Think So

Recently I noticed that my very perfect 20/20 reading vision wasn’t so 20/20 anymore. After testing each eye by closing the opposite one, I realized that middle age wasn’t excusing me from the one thing I thought I still possessed; the ability to not look like Ben Franklin when reading a menu. I had prided myself on not needing reading glasses while all my cronies were pulling theirs out at the table to figure out what they would order. [Although I do need them to read when I wear my contacts for distance.] But the other day, my youth was shattered; (well…maybe not my ‘youth’ per se…but my false sense of ‘visual’ youth that I was holding onto and so proud of.) One eye was slightly blurry while trying to read my ipad. I was shocked and devastated. Could it really be? Had the time really come to don those bifocals? I was bound and determined to prove myself wrong and find out if that was just a temporary setback or if I should be carted off to the nursing home.
I went to see my eye doctor hoping he would give me good news. When I walked in, the receptionist, who I also knew outside of the office, greeted me with a hello, and why are you here. “I was hoping you had a new line of running shoes. Can you point me in the right direction? Why do you think I’m here?”
For some odd reason I always get nervous when I have an eye test or a hearing exam. I feel like a jittery school girl going in for a test, hoping to pass with flying colors. When I have to press the button on the hand-held instrument upon seeing the squiggly lines in my peripheral vision; or when at the audiologist, having to strain my eardrums (or whatever part of the ear is involved in the hearing process) to hear those barely audible sounds only dogs can hear, it’s surprising that the nervous sweat pouring out of me doesn’t blur my vision or clog my ears. What if I get them wrong? I want a perfect score. [Which was a rarity when I was a student...I think that’s why any form of testing makes me anxious.]
While I was waiting for my eye test, I was looking at all the new glasses on display. I should have just kept all the eye glasses I had over the years; that way I wouldn’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on new ones that looked just like my old ones from the 60’s and 70’s, [although the cost of lenses nowadays is probably more than the cumulative cost of all my frames in total.]

                                        I found these glasses I wore in the 70's

And let’s face it…age has definitely weakened my eye sight…the lenses are just a tad thicker than they used to be and if they charge by thickness, I’m screwed. I should just walk around with a double paned window on my face.

His assistant brought me back into the room where they had 3 different machines for testing whatever the hell it was they were testing. All I knew was that my chin and forehead were resting on surfaces that god only knows what kind of creepy crawly things others had shed there. Ever think of disinfecting this thing?  It kinda smelled and I was getting a little nauseated, so I tried not to breathe in too much. He ignored me when I mentioned it so I let it go, held my breath a little, tried not to hyperventilate, and made sure I immediately rushed home to cleanse my face. I probably should have taken anti-nausea meds before I left for the appointment, and brought along a face mask, some purell, and a few antiseptic wipes...but I didn’t want to be rude.
“Tell me which circle pops out at you.” Where are the 3D glasses? It would have been a lot more enjoyable, [and easier] if they had a little Shrek movie going on and asked me when Donkey was coming at me, but they didn’t and in spite of that, I think I aced it.

Next was the squiggly line test…I had to press a button each time I saw one. The least they could have done was not make them so faint and off to the side so much. Geez. Could they have made it any more difficult? I may have passed that one, too, but by the time I was done, my retinas were vibrating uncontrollably, so who knows.
And one of my least favorite…the puff of air in the eye test. “You’re going to feel a slight puff of air, so try not to flinch.” A SLIGHT puff of air? Slight? Who are you kidding? There are gale force winds blowing at 60 mph in my eyes. Do I look like Dorothy? Keep it up and I’m going to blow so hard in your face your cheeks are gonna start flapping.

“Stop fluttering your eye lids please. I can’t get a clear picture.” I’m sorry...stop fluttering my eye lids? The only way these lids are gonna stop fluttering is if you get a two-by-four to prop these puppies open.

Once the tornado stopped blowing my eyeballs out and I could scrape my dry lids off my pupils, he led me to the other examining room where the eye chart and Mr. Magoo machine were, to test my vision. As soon as I was seated he put drops in my eyes and in a few minutes I felt like my eyes were in a brawl. It’s like he put 10 pound weights on my lids. So not only were my eyes like the Sahara, they were numb as shit. Am I blinking?  Is there any movement going on? Am I drooling tears? What’s happening...why can’t I feel my optical orbs? Did someone pull my eyes out of my sockets?

“I numbed your eyes so I could take a look inside.” No f**king shit. Really? Is that why I feel like my eyes have left the building? And this will last how long? Hold on pal...what the f**k is that light that just left me blinded, and can you remove the tip of your nose from my face, please? I can feel your breath up my nostrils.
“Everything looks healthy in there.” least our close encounter wasn’t for nothing. It was time for the big E chart. He put the ‘phoropter’ (impressive that I know that, right?) up to my eyes. He may as well have stuck a Tyrannosaurus Rex on my face and I wouldn’t have known the difference, that thing was so enormous.
“What’s the smallest line you can read?” Ummm…E?  “Which is clearer…A...or B?” AnoB…wait…yeah B. No…A. Who the f**k can tell? I pretty much lie half the time because honestly…I can’t tell the difference for the majority of the flip of the lenses. I think sometimes they don’t even make a change just to play games with our minds or to see if we’ll just say one of them because we’re supposed to.  
While he was testing my eye sight, he had this strange habit of plunging his tongue deep into his cheek or sticking it out completely. I guess his concentration was so intense he had no clue. Hey…bub…shove that tongue back in your mouth or I’m gonna rip it out before you start licking my face. I had to go home and disinfect myself anyway…what harm could it have done at that point? [A little ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humor. Ha...get it?]
Once he established that I was just short of legally blind, he told me he was putting the dilation drops in my eyes. I hadn’t had them in a couple of years so I didn’t remember what to expect. “Have a seat in the waiting room until they take effect and then I’ll bring you back.”
As I sat there checking out facebook on my phone, I felt like I was entering some hallucinatory state. WTF? Why can’t I read this? The words were getting smaller and further away. I had briefly forgotten I had the drops in my eyes. I used Braille to make my way up to the reception desk; with my arms flailing in front of me to be sure I didn’t bump into anyone, so I could find out if that was the side effect of the drops. First I went over to one of the mirrors and pressed my face to the surface to get a good look. A flattened face on a mirror…always an attractive look...

But holy shit…my pupils were ginormous. And I was supposed to drive home? That would be interesting. Maybe not so much for the other cars on the road, though.

After my pupils were fully dilated, meaning the size of bowling balls, he examined me and said everything was fine. “You should be back to normal in a couple of hours. Yeah, right. You may want to wear sunglasses on your way home.” Yeah…because that’s going to keep the 10,000,000 watt sunlight out of my eyes.
Since I don’t own a pair of sunglasses [they don’t work in conjunction with my claustrophobia; I feel too closed in] I adorned my face with those lovely wrap around plastic shades…you know…the ones that roll closed that you have to pry open with a crowbar, and if they snap too quickly they hurt like shit. It never fails that I flinch every time. Takes me a good 5 times to finally get them opened.
Before I left we discussed testing out bi-focal contacts. I was ecstatic. That would resolve the reading dilemma. He was going to order a couple of trial pairs and I would test them out to see if I liked them.
Well...I picked them up last Friday. I put them in and it was unbelievable how great it was to read with my contacts in because I’ve never been able to do that since my contacts are for nearsightedness. That was one of my biggest complaints...”Wow...this is incredible. I’m so excited to test these out.” “Ok, come back in a week and we’ll assess your visual acuity.”
I left his office so deliriously happy that I wouldn’t have to wear glasses anymore. As I got into my car, I realized I could read the letters on the gear shift so clearly. It was amazing. I could read the maps and directions on my phone, and anything else in small print. But....what I didn’t realize.....I couldn’t see distance for shit now.  And the car in front of me...not so happy with my optical choice.