Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Optometrics--the career of choice!

Visits to the optometrist are fairly mundane events, in general--you go in (if you have broken or lost your glasses or contacts) and wander about like Mr. McGoo and hope you don't trip over anything, fill out some forms and wait. Nothing exciting. There is not even much action when you actually start the process of getting your eye exam, but these days machines do most of the work for optometrists (although they still keep their fancy eye devices, I suppose, to keep themselves in a job.) Put your head in the device and watch it do its stuff. Put your head in a device and let it blow a puff of air on your eye to test for glaucoma. That's it. You're done, really, but you still have to go in and visit with the optometrist where he can fiddle with dials etc. to double check that the machine is right.

I wonder, of course, if the machine is ever wrong. I think the optometrist who examined me realized this because he was quite lackadaisical in his approach. "Oh both are about the same; gas permeable are probably more economical in the long run," he drawled in response to my question about the benefits of soft or hard contacts. He was pretty non-committal throughout the examination, and wasn't pushing me one way or another. He was also very uninterested in answering my questions about different contact lenses. His only peppy moment, I think, was when he talked about Lasik surgery, which I instantly disparaged. Even his "which looks better one or two" while using his optometric device to determine my prescription was uninspired--he never switched from numbers and ended up, in fact, at "10" before heading back to one. Most optometrists switch it up between numbers and letters and things like "prefer" and "appears." That is "Which do you prefer, A or B?" or "Which appears clearer, lense one or lense two?" A good old fashioned optometrist does this with grace as he clicks the lenses in place--usually in some singsongy way that preserves the magic of the moment. This guy had not grace at all, and clumsilly flipped the dials.

Ultimately the guy knows the days of his job are numbered; there will be no need for him much longer, since the machines really have it down pat these days. All it will take is some legislator with lots of kids who need glasses to pass the legislation necessary to get rid of real live human optomitrists altogether.

Prognosis: my vision has worsened slightly since last year and my spiffy new soft contacts can last for a month (so says the optometrist who didn't give a crap about selling contacts), and all for about the price of the money I won in Las Vegas.


  1. I must say, I think the eye machines are very, very cool. My eye doctor does the adjustments manually--is there a machine that actually does it all? My doctor is pretty old school, though.

  2. My mother said they had a new test where you look for numbers in blobs of color. Did you have that?

  3. 2) No blobs. No colors. Those are generally for older folks to test for gaps in vision.

    1) I believe the machine used on me did it all--it had several features not on the ones I remember. I don't think they even need that fancy device they fiddle with at all any more. I always thought those guys were kind of magic flipping their dials and what not. There is somethign Tim Burtonesque in those machines.