Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Trip to the Optometrist Office

Today I took the afternoon off from work to have my vision checked. It has been close to 4 years since we have had an eye exam. And lately, the road signs have begun to seem a bit blurry. Some of the times I even have to temper my seeing with my thinking faculty to complete the recognition process, kind of putting two and two together.

Of course it's a family affair, CE having hers done two days earlier. This is because the optometrist has a rule that at most two family members can be seen on the same day. Apparently some patrons renege on the appointment without informing, thereby ruining the optometrist's business for the day when the block reservation turns out to be a no show, en masse.

Wify's appointment was actually on Saturday, and WT and mine, today. But we were told by the optometrist two days ago that she could come as a walk-on, and would be seen if time permits. The moment we stepped through the door, Dr. Church announced that wify's slot was assured.

Wify was the first to be seen, then WT, and I brought up the rear. We were first examined by the technician, at a counter upon which rests three table top contraptions. All are equipped with a head size frame that supports the chin (bottom) and the forehead (top).

I first looked into the first machine, and had the feeling of lights being shot at my eyes. At the second machine, some bursts of air were shot into my eyes alternately. The technician explained that it's a pressure test. The last requires a bit of interaction. I was asked to hold a joy-stick kind of thing (minus the pad) and to press a button on its head whenever a light shows up on a screen seen by each eye in turn. I did that dutifully, noticing the light coming up all over the circular screen, one at a time. Apparently, it's a test for peripheral vision (I overheard the technician explaining to wify earlier).

Then it was into a dark chamber where lenses were alternately inserted into slots through which I tried to read the small prints on the frame. At the same time, I would tell the optometrist whether the No. 1 or No. 2 lens was better, i.e., the letters were clearer. As I recall, this seems to be the only part I was tested on when seeing an optometrist back home.

The last part of the eye examination was dilation whereby several eye drops were introduced into my eyes. After about half an hour, I was called into another chamber where the optometrist shone a pencil of strong light into my eyes when they were focused on different directions, the point being for the optometrist to look into the pupil and the back of my eyes to look for tell-tale sign of cataracts, glaucoma, and impaired tiny blood vessels caused by widely fluctuating levels of blood sugar common to diabetics. Except for some increase in the power, the optometrist has declared me to be otherwise enjoying a clean bill of health for my eyes.

Wify was diagnosed with cataract, a clouding of the natural lens of the eyes. It seems that's an eye disease that comes with aging, though it is a bit early for wify's age. The optometrist has referred her to an eye doctor since it would require surgery, or rather a surgical procedure, for its treatment. So the prescription for her glasses would have to wait since all she needs might just be reading glasses after her surgery.

As if to allay our anxiety, the optometrist explained that it's an under-an-hour procedure that involves sucking out the brownish growth that covers the pupil and replacing it with an implant.

On the way home, we were each given a piece of sun glasses to help ease temporary blurred vision because of the eye dilation. It's actually just a simple cut-out that one inserts between the glasses and the eyes (see right image). It may look comical on one's face (that reminds me of the two Men in Black but I would not want to be seen in this, hence the image would have to do) but it's definitely practical. And it's free too and we would put them in the glove compartment in case we are driving into the sun (because then nobody would get a good look when we zoom by).

And our normal vision was only restored when I was typing out this blog several hours later. But that did not deter me and wify from joining Mr. John McClane (played by Bruce Willis) for a two-hour escapade in the first Die Hard movie, a rerun courtesy of HBO.

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