I recently went to the eye doctor to get my glasses prescription renewed and to try out contacts. I tried contacts several years ago, but I gave up after repeatedly jabbing myself in the eye with my contact-clad finger only to have the accursed soft piece of rounded plastic fall onto the floor. However, I am now older and wiser and it seemed like as good a time as any to give them another shot.
The first step of the appointment always seems to involve jets of compressed air being blown into the eyes. They tell me it has something to do with “checking fluid pressure” in my eye, but that sounds suspiciously like something a shady mechanic would say about my car right before attempting to extort large amounts of money. Also I think it exists as an intimidation technique. No matter how much you mentally prepare yourself for it you cannot avoid jumping when that puff hits your eye. You will involuntarily jolt back an inch or two, before your resolve kicks in and you slam your forehead and chin back into the torture device. They probably record it on video and laugh about it later, then categorize each patient onto a leaderboard ranked by how high and far the individual jumped.
So after being put through the humiliating “eye pressure” test and proving that I am such a coward that even tiny jets of air scare me when I know they are coming, the actual eye doctor comes in to see me. He proceeds to place a device in front of my face while switching lenses and having me read tiny text projected on the wall.
Eye Doctor: “Which is clearer: lens 1, or lens 2?”
Me, eager to get the right answer: “Could you repeat the question please?”
Eye Doctor: “Which is clearer: Lens 1, or Lens 2?”
Me: “Can I call a friend on this one?”
Eye Doctor: “No.”
Me: “That’s cool, I don’t have any friends anyway. I’m pretty sure I saw the answer to this in a movie once. Definitely Lens 2.”
Eye Doctor, giggling in a manner not unlike that of an evil mad scientist: “HAHAHAHAHA WRONG! It was Lens 1! It looks like you’re trending to place in the top five on the patient humiliation leaderboard! You are such a noob!”
Me, trying to appear indignant while trying to hide the secret flattery that I am doing so well on the humiliation leaderboards: “This is an outrage! I will not stand for this! Are you sure I’m not top three?”
Eye Doctor, checking a chart: “Hmm. No, definitely not top three so far. We’ll keep you posted as we proceed with the exam.”
Really though, sometimes I swear they show the same lens twice in a row just to mess with you.
After choosing the lenses that seemed best the doctor took a device with a bright light and proceeded to look into my eyes, quite possibly so that he could check on the humiliation levels in my soul. Or perhaps just so he could see the shape of my eye. Both scenarios are valid. He commented on the worsening astigmatism in my left eye (something I could have told him without having my night vision ruined by a flashlight to the eye) and stated that we would have to try something different on the contacts.
At this point, having chosen the lenses that I felt best demonstrated clarity of my character, personality, and oh yeah, vision, the doctor brought me into a room and handed me two packages of trial contact lenses. I assured him that I have put in contacts before and that I can take care of this. He went to assist another patient as I set to work on the dreaded task of attaching these fixtures of visual acuity to my retinas.
The right contact went in surprisingly smoothly, on the first try! And I could actually see out of my right eye! Encouraged I set to work on the left eye. After several minutes of fruitlessly shoving a tiny piece of soft plastic onto my corneal surface, dropping the lens three times, turning it inside out twice, and some quietly uttered expletives I managed to get the second contact to adhere to my left eye, and I blinked a few times to clear the abundant tears that were attempting to soothe the indignantly irritated surface of my ocular faculties.
Much to my chagrin, I was not experiencing the success with my left eye that I had with the right. If anything my vision was degraded from wearing the lens. I sat there quietly for a moment, mentally noting that next time I should choose lens 1 and that this was definitely going to propel me to the top of the humiliation leaderboard if I had to go back through and look at the lenses again.
The doctor came back and asked if I had the contacts in. I confirmed, and mentioned the lamentable current state of affairs in my left eye. The doctor, probably pleased that he was going to have the top patient on the humiliation leaderboard, assured me that this was OK and we could try something different after he looked at my eyes and into my soul again.
As he shined the light into my left eye he commented that “Hmm, the contact is upside down, that’s strange.” Apparently the shape of my eye is so bad even contacts don’t want to hang out with it. Fortunately they had a much friendlier contact that I placed and was able to see reasonably well with!
Fast forward a few days later, I have been wearing the contacts every day, and I am getting proficient and efficiently inserting and removing the contacts. I am shocked at times when I realize that I have literally gone this long with almost no peripheral vision. Let me tell you several reasons why peripheral vision is great:
1. I was driving home from the eye doctor and realized that I had lost a significant blind spot since I was glasses-free! Normally I have tunnel vision due to my glasses effectively having blinders along each side. The car is still absolutely dangerous to drive, the sides of the car are pretty much permanent blind spots, so now that I think about it nothing has really changed. At least now I know that if I buy a car that isn’t rife with dangerous blind spots I will be able to drive safely!
2. I was at the grocery store buying a few things, and as I approached the register with my arms laden down with products, I inadvertently dropped nearly everything. With my peripheral vision I was able to perceive that the (rather attractive) cashier was laughing at my misfortune as I picked the items up off the floor. This also gave rise to the theory that there is very likely a “grocery store humiliation” leaderboard in existence, and hours are probably spent watching security footage to determine where patrons rank in relation to the best grocery store embarrassments of all time. I’m fairly certain I fit into at least the top 25 on that list, if not the top 20.
3. I was on a treadmill at the Y with a middle aged man on the treadmill to my left and a middle aged woman on the treadmill to my right. Both of them were running when I got there, and both of them were still running when I got off the treadmill and nearly collapsed into a gasping pile of oxygen deprived, rubbery muscles and sweat soaked Nike work out clothes (There is probably an embarrassment leaderboard for gyms too). However in the middle of my run I was able to utilize my peripheral vision to realize that both the gentleman on my left on the lady on the right were running in sync. Using this information I was able to adjust my stride so that I too was running in sync. This caused me great amusement until the lack of oxygen rich blood reaching the muscles in my legs forced me to slow the treadmill.
The overarching themes here are that contact lenses aren’t that bad and that peripheral vision is awesome! In retrospect I could have conveyed that with far fewer words.