Tag Archives: vision

Vision Care

My optometrist is wonderful. Kind. Professional. Gentle. Brilliant. Compassionate. I hate him so much.

The hatred is obviously the It’s-not-you-it’s-me kind because he is great and all. It is simply that I wish never to see him again. That, of course, is the dilemma: that if I never see him again, then I may not see anyone again. It is a harder decision than it sounds when I say it out loud.

My first optometrist visit occurred in the third grade and taught me that I was blind in one eye. I remember quite well that my eyelids were turned inside out as part of the examination, which resulted in a more serious medical condition known as “the heebie jeebies” (self-diagnosis). The heebie jeebies is a terrible malady, and the chief treatment plan is to avoid all visits to an optometrist for as long as humanly possible. Seeing as I am nothing if not committed to a treatment plan, I did not visit another optometrist for thirty-three years (which, I’m just pointing out, Christians believe is the entire human life span of the Son of God, so I think that is a pretty good run).

But I caved several years back and that is when I met Dr. Wonderful, whom I hate if that was somehow left unclear. Oh, it is an irrational hatred. There were no eyelids turned inside out in the examination, so no heebie jeebies. The visit mostly consisted of rational adult conversation and semi-successful attempts to read tiny letters. I graduated to reading glasses, which wasn’t all that terrible either. There was only one negative . . . .

I have never been known for physical strength. That is probably because I have very little physical strength. But I’m telling you the truth, and you can ask my doctor, try to drop something into one of my eyes, and my eye muscles can lift a Buick—or at least a grown man wearing a miner’s hat holding a dropper.

(Why are all my superhero gifts so lame? Adding lists of numbers quickly, Olympic-strength eye muscles, 1980s-era NBA trivia, number of freckles…)

So, seeing as how dropping liquids into my eyes turns me into The Incredible Hulk, I took another few years between optometrist visits just out of respect for peace in the community, but last week in a moment of weakness I returned once more to the scene of the crime. It went as expected: I tossed Dr. Nice Guy around the examination room with my eye muscles like a professional wrestler and now have some new glasses on the way.

In sum, I guess it is clear that I avoid the very resource that helps me see the world more clearly because it creates a brief moment of discomfort. That doesn’t make a lick of sense for the eyes of my heart any more than it does for the eyes in my skull, and if clarity of vision means anything at all, I had just better learn to get over it.

Remembering that It Happened Once

By Wendell Berry

Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.

Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 94 (1998).

Counter with Creativity

My dad would criticize a baseball umpire by saying: “He’s blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.” Maybe I should look into umpire work.

I have been legally blind in my left eye since birth. This is my standard fun fact for party games because nothing says fun like eye disease! The formal title for the condition is amblyopia, but the common name is lazy eye.¹ If discovered when a baby, a simple patch over the good eye will kick start the lazy eye into action. When undiscovered, the damage is irreversible. Mine was discovered in the third grade. I may have been a slow child.

But this one-eye blind condition was never a problem. Despite two traumatic injuries to my useful eye (I will spare you the gory details) and ignoring doctor’s advice to wear protective eyewear when playing sports, my “good eye” seemed better by itself than others’ two eyes combined. I was rather smug about this.

Pride comes before a fall, and for me pride came before the combination of law school and my forties, and you guessed it, that “good” eye is now in search of a new adjective.

I do have reading glasses and even wear them sometimes, but for the most part I choose to be adventurous. For example, I now list random numbers on the tip line of the credit card receipt at local restaurants since I cannot see the receipt. As a result, I now have a hot-cold relationship with the wait staff.

I do have a dream, and surprisingly it is not to be able to see once again. Instead, my new goal in life is to own, and become proficient at using, and bring back into style, the monocle. I could use some help purchasing one since I no longer seem to be able to read the Internet, but my new life goal is to join the ranks of childhood heroes such as Colonels Klink and Mustard, The Penguin, and Mr. Peanut.

A monocle is distinguished, sure. It will accent my cheekbone, but of course. More importantly, however, it is both exactly what I need and very weird, and that my friends is a winning combination.

There are several options to consider when life tosses a new challenge your way. I propose countering with something outside the proverbial box. Not every challenge can be turned into something that creates smiles, but for the life of me I cannot come up with a reason not to give it a shot.

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¹ Before you feel too sorry for me, I join the ranks of fellow beautiful people: Melissa Joan Hart, Paris Hilton, Taylor Lautner, and Russell Crowe.