“How long has it been since you’ve had your eyes examined?” she asked.
“Uh, 2009 was the last time. Unless you count the time I got a splinter in my eye and they checked me out.” I answered. The eye doctor gave me a look.
“Then your current glasses are four years old?”
“No, I got these glasses in 2000. When they checked me in 2009 they found my eyes hadn’t changed so there was no need to replace them.” She gave me the same look. It reeked of impatience.
“That’s a long time, the eyes usually change in middle age.” I didn’t reply, I just looked at her. It was obvious to me that my eyes hadn’t changed, and I was pretty sure they were still unchanged. My current glasses allowed me to see just fine. My whole purpose of going to the optomitrist was to get a second pair of glasses, perhaps with Transitions lenses, and to investigate contact lenses.
She directed me onto a stool and pulled her eye machine over and had me lean into it. It was the typical eye testing machine and looked kind of interesting, kind of complex and a little intimidating. The lights in the room dimmed and we began to play the eye test game. “Read the letters line by line.” she instructed, and we were off and running. Before long she was flipping lenses in and out of my field of vision and asking “better,” or “worse?” After a while I couln’t tell which was better or worse, the letters I was reading all looked the same to me. She said “Hunh.”
“Hunh?” I repeated. “What’s ‘hunh?’”
“It appears that your eyes are still unchanged. That’s unusual.”
“Why is that so unusual?” I asked.
“Because people tend to become more farsighted as they get older. For the nearsighted, their vision improves, for the farsighted, their eyes require more correction.” she answered.
“Well, I always had excellent vision as a kid and was fairly eagle-eyed into my late thirties. But I started having a little trouble with print up close and so back in 1989 I got a pair of glasses and they lasted me until 2000. I replaced them because I dropped them and put a small chip right in my field of vision. It became annoying and I figured it had been a decade since I’d been checked, so I went in. My eyes had changed again and I had these glasses made.” I said, pointing to my trusty bifocals. “So I guess my eyes got their changes out of their system by then, because they still work just fine.”
“And you’re looking to purchase a spare pair with sun filtering.”
“Yep. And I also want to try contacts.” I added.
“Well, the eyes tend to get drier as we age and so contacts may be irritating. What makes you want to try them? Do your glasses bother you?”
I chuckled. “Actually, I want the contacts so it makes it easier for me to use my Google Glass.”
“What’s a Google glass?” she asked. I reached to where my jacket was hanging fro the back of the chair and pulled out my Glass carry sack. I removed Glass from it and put the appliance on. “Oh! I’ve seen those on television. It’s a little computer, right?”
“More or less. It’s an interface to a computer and has some of its own functions, mostly visual record and display.”
“And you’ve been wearing it on top of your regular glasses?” asked the doctor.
“Yes, and it’s a little cumbersome.”
“I bet. Well, let’s see how well you stand up to contacts. We’ll try out some prescriptionless gas permeables on you and see how you do.”
“Lead on.” I said.
It did not go well. My eyes were too dry for the contacts and became red and irritated in short order. We discussed a number of options, one of them being Lasik surgery. A few people I know have had Lasik and they like the outcome, but all of them say that they have a little distortion that causes problems at night. This little distortion picks up light and reflects it into the eye. It sounds just like the little divot I had in my glasses all those years back. The little glare from oncoming light could be a little blinding, a problem when driving and a distraction in movie theaters. The fact that all of the people I knew personally who’d had Lasik had the identical complaint, I never gave much thought to having the procedure. Plus that, the cost was awfully high and I’d have to bear it myself. The VA doesn’t do Lasik.
Then again, in spite of the VA providing vision care, I was at America’s Best because I’m not a fan of the VA care. Back in 2009 they made a set of glasses for me. It took nineteen weeks for the glasses to show up from the processing plant is Boise, I daho, and they were awful. Bifocals, one of the secondary lens cuts sat literally in the middle of the lens while the other was at the bottom center where it belonged. I threw them away, they were useless and didn’t bother to go back and go through the long, long wait again. I preferred to spend the money at a place I had success with, and coulld get my glasses in about a week. This is one area where I think the VA should contract out to local providers. Sure, do the testing and other care procedures at the VA clinic, but have a local provider grind and set the lenses. It would make for a much faster turn around for the vets and probably be cheaper in the long run. Almost five months was a ridiculous wait, especially to result in so spectacular a failure.
For the present I’m getting the glasses. I can get contacts any time I choose to, so if my eyes regain the moisture needed to lubricate them against the contacts, I can use them. The doctor commented that a number of her patients who’d experienced chemotherapy had their eyes dry out in contrast to earlier in life. That people who’d worn contacts comfortably and successfully had to abandon their use as a portion of the cost of anti-cancer treatment.
At least I will have glasses that adjust to light, and that’s a step forward.