Once a year I go through the nuisance of going to the eye doctor. Oh, the aggravation of it all, not to mention those awful drops that dilate your pupils and make everything fuzzy for hours.
My appointment is always made a year ahead so the doctor will be sure to get my repeat business without interruption.
It happens as we get older. The eyes go first. One day you notice you can’t read the small print on medicine bottles anymore. “Why don’t they print this stuff larger?” After all, isn’t it mostly older people that are trying to read medicine bottles?
First you get contacts. And then the day comes when contacts are not enough, and you need reading glasses, bifocals, or (God forbid) trifocals. For a while I had both contacts and reading glasses. Finally, I realized I was being ridiculous. I was going to have to wear glasses, vanity or not.
And so, here I am in the eye doctor’s office again with the nurse calling my name. “How are you today?” she asks.
“Fine,” I reply, but what I’m thinking is “old and going blind. Why do you think I’m here?”
I go in the darkened room with the tall black chair that reminds me of an old fashioned dentist chair. I climb up in the monstrosity and hold on tight. The assistant takes my health history again. I don’t know why I had to fill out all that paperwork before since apparently no one looks at it.
She turns on the eye chart that reflects in the mirror on the wall and has me read it. “Yes, I can see the big E,” I tell her. Then we go down the chart until we get to the row that looks like ants instead of letters.
The silver arm with the big binoculars swings toward me and it’s time to try different lenses. “Which is best? This or this?” She flips different lenses in front of me. Actually, they all look pretty much the same, but I pick number one or number two and she is satisfied.
Finally, she put drops in my eyes that feel like sand and shines the bright blue light in my eyes while I try hard not to blink, or scream. Then the dreaded dilating drops go into my eyes and she shows me to the waiting room in the hall, where I wait and read the doctor’s certificates, licenses and diplomas on the wall. Funny, how they are all displayed where everyone has fuzzy vision.
Eventually, the doctor comes and we go back in the dark room and repeat the entire procedure. This time the lights are even brighter as he plays laser tag with my throbbing eyeballs.
“I think we need to change your glasses,” he says. Oh, really? I thought my eyes were already as bad as they could get, but apparently they can always get worse.
He smoothly guides me into the convenient glasses shop in his office — as if I am going to pick out a pair of glasses while I am half blind. I know my rights. “Could I just take the prescription with me?” I somehow have the idea that eye doctors should be in the business of doctoring, not selling glasses that they have prescribed.
I’ll get my glasses at the mall where they are open evenings and weekends and have designer frames. Designer frames? Now that’s a paradox for you — as if there is anything anyone can do to glasses to make them look good.
“There is only one good thing about this entire experience,” I think, putting on the disposable, dark, cardboard glasses that are supposed to prevent sun blindness.
I don’t have to come back until a year from today.