Even though I’m legally blind, I do go to the optometrist and get a prescription for glasses. I don’t wear them a lot because they give me headaches, they’re very heavy…oh, let’s face it. I don’t wear them because they make me look like a dork. I assume. I’m going by the way guys will turn to me and say, “Oh, hi–oh, my God!” and shortly afterward find themselves urgently needing to leave. So I don’t go with the glasses in public that often, but they’re still nice to have for when I’m at home. Alone. In private. With no one else around.
I’d gotten used to my old optometrist. He understood my quirks and visual eccentricities. They’d have been visual insanities, but his fees were really high. He also managed not to laugh until after I had left his office, which I always appreciated. So I wasn’t thrilled when, the next time I made an appointment, there was a new guy in the office. He was very nice, I assumed as always that he was strikingly good looking, but he wasn’t my guy. But you take what you can get, with optometrists as with dating. I warned his staff ahead of time that I’m a little different and then just showed up on the appointed day.
So we started the examination with a test of my depth perception. I was supposed to focus on an object while he covered and then uncovered one of my eyes. Dutifully, I stared at the object. Seconds passed. “Focus on the object,” he said. I focused again, as much as I could. More seconds passed. “I need you to focus on the object,” he said again, with that exaggerated patience people show when they know so much better than you do. I sighed, focused as best I could, and waited. There’s a breaking-in period with any new optometrist, when you’re legally blind.
“Why aren’t you focusing on the object? Are you having problems?” he asked. What I wanted to say was, “You’re the eye doc. You tell me. Oh wait, you’re not really a doctor, are you? Maybe I should go to a real eye doctor!” What I actually said, because you never know when these things are going to get back to your mother, was “I’m doing the best I can, I just don’t have any depth perception.” He wrote some stuff on his clipboard, probably to make himself feel like a real doctor, and moved on to the next test.
The next test was of peripheral vision. Again, one eye was covered, and I had to tell the doctor when his hand came into view out of the corner of my other eye. He covered one eye, and I sighed a little to myself and waited. Seconds passed again. “You really can’t see my hand?” he asked. “No, I really can’t,” I replied, and I don’t think I used that tone of exaggerated patience that he had used, but I really wanted to.
Finally I saw his hand and said so. “Wow, I’ve never examined anyone with a loss of peripheral vision that dramatic!” he remarked, all cheerful, as he made more I-wish-I-were-a-real-doctor notes on his clipboard. Now, what does one say to that? Thanks? I’ve been working really hard at it? I sat on my hands (to keep from doing the face-palm slap) and waited for the next test.
Eventually, we got to the part where I had to read out lines on a chart across the room. “Read out loud the lowest line you can make out,” he told me. I really, really wanted to work with him. It’s nice to have glasses that let me see enough to read a large-print book. But…”I’m sorry, sir–where’s the chart?”
Nope, not exaggerating! This story ends with me getting referred to an out-of-town specialist who, I sincerely hope, has actually read my file. It does not end with me getting glasses. The interesting part was when the new guy wanted to get paid. At that point, I’d about had it, and I gave him a Look. That part of my vision he seemed to understand perfectly. Finally, we’re seeing eye to eye!