Archived Story

An eye-opening experience

Published 11:21am Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday was one of those dreaded days for me – the day of the annual eye exam.

I’ve never had stellar vision.

I began wearing glasses in the fourth grade – big, round glasses that, of course, I got made fun of for wearing. I remember setting the glasses on the corner of my desk, squinting at the whiteboard from the back of the class in defiance.

By the next year, my prescription had gotten even worse, and I decided wearing glasses to prevent the degeneration of my eyes wasn’t so bad, after all.

I started wearing contacts by middle school, and by my senior year of high school, I thought my eyes had leveled out, getting as bad as they would get, for now, at least.

In college, I went to an eye doctor in Troy who always was impressed how my eyes hadn’t gotten worse, despite hours of working in front of a computer, not wearing glasses or contacts when I should and occasionally falling asleep in my contacts.

Last year, I paid my first visit to Dr. Nobles since moving back to Alexander City. It has been years since my prescription changed – both of my nearsighted eyes had been 20/250 since my high school days.

I guess my left eye decided to get a little bit worse since my last appointment, though, as it progressed to 20/275.

And Wednesday, I learned that both of my eyes decided to get a little worse – the 20/275 eye moving to 20/300 and the 20/250 eye moving to 20/275.

Though Dr. Nobles was as pleasant, friendly and professional as ever, my eyes felt like they took a beating. Even as I write this Wednesday evening, my pupils long back to normal, my eyes still feel as if they needed to get the eyeball equivalent of a hot shower, just to relax.

A series of drops left my eyes numb and dilated. At some point in between all those drops, he shined something extremely bright in my eye to check for various eye disorders.

I left the examination room in my glasses, with the oh-so-cool, standard-issue doctor’s office sunglasses hanging behind them to protect my eyes from the sun.

As I was handed the receipt for my co-pay, I realized I faced a conundrum – when I looked through my glasses, I couldn’t read close up. And when I removed my glasses, I couldn’t see things far away.

I had a sudden bout of panic. What if my eyes never returned to normal and I spent the rest of my life toggling back and forth between squinting both at something close up and something far away?

I realized what I was experiencing was probably what people who need bifocals encounter every day. It made me thankful for my nearsightedness - at least I was used to having things fuzzy when they were far away from me.

I scribbled what I hope was some semblance of my name on the receipt, and before I left, the kind nurse at the front desk told me the office would send me a card in about a year to remind me to schedule my next annual appointment.

My eyes are already watering just thinking about it.

Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.