The Eyes Hate It

A literal Russian translation: "The optometrist is trying to kill you."

I went to see my optometrist over the weekend for an eye exam. I’ve always found this to be a humiliating experience. I walked in wearing the same monthly disposable contacts I popped in back in early November. My appointment with Dr. _ started out poorly.

“Well, you’ve had these in for some time, no?” she said. (She didn’t ask. She said. She knew.)

Since I now have fancy vision insurance and I’ve been wearing my last pair of lenses for a good two full months, it was time to pay the piper.The early months of my move to Portland were defined by prioritizing purchases such as pizza and beer over less immediate needs like contact lenses, which are ridiculously expensive considering the materials involved.

“Here’s half a thimble of plastic. That’ll be $300. You’re welcome.”

My disdain for optometrists extends back to middle school, where a cruel old man answered my wish for contact lenses with hard contacts. Hard contacts may predate some of you, or perhaps you never had the pleasure of wearing them. Let me explain the discomfort like this: Find a glass-top coffee table. Smash it with a sledgehammer. Look for two spherical shards. Attempt to place them over your corneas. Isn’t it great being able to see without eyeglasses?!

Over time, my severe astigmatism settled and contact lens technology evolved. I’m very pleased with the good folks at Bausch & Lomb have come up with for people like me. Now only if they could refine the eye exam itself.

It’s all about being decisive. This optometrist, she could see through my bullshit. Per usual, she sat me in a chair and projected before me a series of letters and numbers in varying sizes. I gazed through a series of different lenses with my left eye, my right eye and both eyes as she asked me which of two lenses worked best.

Optometrist: “A or B?”

Me: “B?”

Optometrist: “C or D?”

Me: “They kind of look the sa-…D?”

Optometrist: “Once again, C or D?”

Me: “Pass.”

As intimacy goes, it’s hard not to feel violated as someone shines a potent, tiny beam into your retinas and gazes deep into your eyes, illuminating the front quarters of your brain. My girlfriend, until recently, recoiled whenever I tried to hold her hand. My optometrist, upon our first meeting, studied my frontal lobe. She could’ve at least bought me a drink first.

By the end of our encounter, Dr. _ had determined my eyes had not changed since my last exam. After being victim to invasive tests for nearly an hour, this optometrist confirmed little more than A) my eyes were still in my head and B) my eyes maintained the same shape and ability they had last January.

Long story short, my new contact lenses are in today, so away with my expired ones. We’ve been through a lot together, these contacts and I. Job training. My two-year anniversary with my girlfriend. Thanksgiving. The Blind Side. Christmas. New Year’s. It’s been abusive relationship as protein build-up has caused me severe irritation on the daily, but I’ll miss these contacts.

More than I’ll miss my optometrist, anyway.

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One thought on “The Eyes Hate It

  1. I wish your dialogue wasn’t so true. A and B, or C and D always look the same, ALL THE TIME. Then they diagnose from our hesitancy. I don’t trust those freaks. Who wants to look at corneas all day anyway?

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