My OT funny/not so funny story from this weekend

This post is more than 2 years old.

No, this will not be nearly as exciting as band camp, but I thought I'd share. This weekend I had to stop at Walmart. I was by myself and when I noticed the eye care center was pretty empty, I figured it was a good idea to do the eye exam that I've been trying to find time for over the past year or so. A quick review on myself and my eyes. Growing up I had a weak left eye. I was patched for a while and wore glasses. Late in high school I was told I didn't need them anymore, but being a typical high schooler, was more than glad to get rid of the glasses.

About 8 years or so ago I noticed things were getting a bit fuzzy for me. Not everything, mainly just text on my TV. (To be honest, I should have just gotten an even bigger TV!) I went in, got tested, and got a pair of glasses. I remember the doctor saying there wasn't much he could do for my eyes (more on that) but that the prescription should help a bit.

Anyway I go into the eye exam honestly curious about what he would find. I suffer from headaches, but more from stress/weather/not drinking enough water than eye strain. I'm sitting in the chair, doing the 'read a line' thing when I mess up a letter. Let's say I guessed C. The doctor said I was wrong, but that I had obviously seen the letter shape, so to please try again. I did O. No. G. No. Now while I'm guessing the doctor is getting pretty short with me. I'm responding like I'm on trial and accidentally repeat the C and he just about laid into me for repeating a letter I had said before. I almost walked out the guy was getting so short! It got even worse during the A/B testing. (That's where he asks you to compare one lens to another.) My left eye is pretty darn weak, and from time to time I'd so A was stronger, than B, even on the same comparisons. I was being as honest as I could, but the doctor was going nuts.

At this point though I could tell it was more frustration over him not being able to find a solution for me. Eventually he suggested a retina specialist. At this point I was beginning to panic a bit. He did some additional checks on my eyes, however, and didn't see anything wrong. He said that he felt my left eye had always been this bad, and that my right eye was slipping a bit and he wanted to be sure my eyes didn't get any worse.

So now I have a new script for glasses with slightly stronger vision on the right side, and... get this... slightly weaker on the left. I don't quite get it. I'll be picking new frames next time we go to Walmart as a family (personally I want frames like HRG) and can't wait to have the ever-so-cool auto shade glasses I've wanted for years.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by todd sharp posted on 10/20/2008 at 6:16 PM

Glad to see I'm not the only one who can 'fail' an eye exam.

Here's a quick story for you. So one time I'm sitting in the chair doing the whole 'which one is better, this one, or this one' thing and they both just look horrendous to me. Terribly blurry. So I'm starting to get a bit nervous, and I stammer a bit while he keeps switching back and forth before I finally tell him that they both just look terrible. He pulls the lens out and discovers that the lens was completely filthy. I was starting to think I was legally blind!

I'm sure that's an old optomotrist practical joke. They probably share stories over beers at Eye Conferences of the terrified look on peoples face as they struggle to figure out which lens was better.

Oh and I'm convinced that pupil dialation is their cruel way of getting back at all the popular kids who called them nerds in high school.

Finally...I vote -1 on the frames. Not sure they'd look right on you.

Comment 2 by Mike Rankin posted on 10/20/2008 at 6:25 PM

Pretty retro frames. They look like the glasses Michael Douglas wore in "Falling Down" which is one of my all time favorite films.


Comment 3 by David posted on 10/20/2008 at 6:46 PM

Ray, sounds like a second opinion is in order! You shouldn't be given a stronger prescription because an eye is "slipping a bit and he wanted to be sure my eyes didn't get any worse".

It doesn't work that way (I've worn glasses 20+ years). If you get a stronger lens, it will hurt your eye, not help it.

Just an amateur opinion/observation!



Comment 4 by James Edmunds posted on 10/20/2008 at 7:04 PM

Is this Wal-mart guy an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? I urge you to see an ophthalmologist, and not trust your eyes to someplace whose underlying theme is low prices everyday. If you need a local recommendation, call me.

Comment 5 by Dave DuPlantis posted on 10/20/2008 at 7:32 PM

I've worn glasses/contacts for 30+ years and I would have to agree with Davo. Your glasses should help you see properly: they're not going to make your eyes "better". On my last visit to the eye doctor, we decided to change my prescription a little bit, but that was to compensate for presbyopia. (Yep, I'm now one of those people that looks down over the top of his glasses to see something at very close range ...)

Without glasses or contacts, the eye test is easy for me. Everything looks like blur. (I'm not legally blind - yet - I just have bad astigmatism and moderate myopia.) It's fun for parlor games and such. In the old days, before featherweight lenses, I usually won the lens-thickness contest.

I've never really found a decent solution for outdoors with glasses. Auto-tint lenses aren't bad going outside but give you a double whammy on bright winter days if it gets that cold (perhaps not where you live) - dark, steamed-up lenses = no fun. Clip-ons are very portable, but you have to carry the case around with you or risk losing them (and I have, twice). I currently have prescription sunglasses, but then you have the case and they're not so easy to switch. At least these are polarized too, so I can wear them indoors and still see somewhat well.

But they're still no match for cool sunglasses.

Comment 6 by Michael Brennan-White posted on 10/20/2008 at 7:46 PM

I had an exam last week and I really hate them. I've had a lazy eye that wasn't caught until I was 8 so it wasn't treatable with the patch (supposedly).

I was very annoyed that it would take at least a couple months to get an Opthamologist appt. in my area. Maybe I should have made the short trip to Canada because it couldn't be much longer there.

I am going to try out the online eyeglass ordering. It is supposed to be much cheaper. If you are interested this is a pretty good review:

Comment 7 by Rick O posted on 10/20/2008 at 8:10 PM

I am the only person in my family, excepting my sister's week-old babies, who does not wear glasses or contacts. I don't know how it worked out that way, especially as I've been working on computers since I was 5.

I've had exactly one eye exam in my life, not including the ones that they make you take in elementary school. It was about 10 years ago, and it was because I wanted to get a pair of zombie white-out Wild Eyes contacts for Halloween.

It went about as well as everyone else's seems to -- the stupid and ambiguous A/B test was the worst. "Which is better?" "They're the same!" "No they aren't. Which is better?" "Arrgh!"

I also remembering doing a test where you have to look into what seems to be a table-mounted microscope. Inside is a picture of a tree. You were supposed to fiddle the knobs until the tree came into perfect focus for you. When I finished that particular test the eye doctor got all sorts of pleased with himself.

"You don't have 20/20."
"Sure I do. I can read the bottom line on the eye chart, can't I?"
"Nope, you actually have slightly worse than 20/20. You need to get a prescription."
"Um, no. I just want no-prescription zombie eyes, thanks."
"We can't do that. You need prescription lenses. You don't have 20/20."
(At this point I know he is lying -- like there's some legal requirement that I have 20/20 to buy lenses?)
"Okay, explain to me how I don't have 20/20 if I can read the 20/20 line on the eye chart?"
"Your eyes don't have 20/20 optics, but your brain is interpolating so that it thinks it can see in 20/20."
(He thought that bringing the word optics into the conversation would sound technical and scare me ... but my grandfather is an optical physicist. Wrong tactic.)
"I don't have 20/20 optics, huh?"
"Nope. Closer to 20/30."
"And yet ... my brain is somehow magically figuring it all out and fooling itself into being able to read 20/20."
"Something like that."
"Then I am effectively 20/20."
"No, you are not."
"Look. I am going to spend $100 for these lenses. I can do it here, or I can do it somewhere else."

Conversation over. To this day, I have no idea what kind of crack he was smoking, or what kind of scam he was trying to pull.

Comment 8 by Phillip Senn posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:27 PM

The text on your blog is too small.
Or is it just me?

Comment 9 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:34 PM

@PS - It may be. :) I look at the text both on a 30 inch screen and a 15 inch laptop. Looks fine to me. Anyone else?

Comment 10 by David posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:37 PM

@PS, you may need glasses. I'm sure Ray can recommend someone good :-p

Comment 11 by Yaron Kohn posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:52 PM

Let's all come together and pay for Ray's Lasik surgery...What do you think? Is there an Amazon Wishlist for something like that? I think we can get it cheap for $500 an eye. (just kidding, I'd go with the $5000 dr)

Comment 12 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:53 PM

The day I let someone point lasers at my eyes is the day hell freezes over. Sorry - I'd rather have someone rip out my toenails.

Comment 13 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/20/2008 at 11:59 PM

Of course, if the lasers were on sharks, that would be a completely separate matter.

Comment 14 by David posted on 10/21/2008 at 12:01 AM

I could be wrong, but I think they put the lasers IN your eyes - so you get that superman-laser-shooting effect.


Comment 15 by Phillip Senn posted on 10/21/2008 at 1:09 AM

I think I saw a bargain at Sam's club called "Sam's Choice almost exactly like Lasik" surgery, but you had to have 4 eyes to get it.

Comment 16 by shakti posted on 10/21/2008 at 1:44 AM

i used to wear glasses for years in school, far too long i reckon. then once i started a lot of sports and muay thai, been using contact lenses since. couldn't be happier. nw i have to show people my contact lenses to convince them i'm actually a programmer :)

Comment 17 by Michael Sharman posted on 10/21/2008 at 1:53 AM

Interesting that a couple of people commented that they have a "lazy eye". Me too, my left eye pretty much does nothing. If I close my right eye I can still see but I can't read a thing.

Lately I've been wondering if there is anything that can be done to "fix" the lazy eye. Has anyone here looked into this at all?

Comment 18 by Yaron Kohn posted on 10/21/2008 at 5:42 AM

Isn't a lazy eye beneficial for those men with wandering eyes? (this is intended as a joke in case my wife finds herself on this page)

Comment 19 by Lola LB posted on 10/21/2008 at 5:55 PM

I too refuse to let anyone point laser beams at my eyes. My eyes are funky enough that I go to an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist. Just to be sure, I'd recommend that you get checked out by an ophthalmologist.

Comment 20 by James Morrow posted on 10/21/2008 at 10:50 PM


Quick note - find a really good optometrist shop over in your area that isn't a chain store like Walmart's house brand or an "Eyecare 20/20" clone. You'll quickly notice the benefits of having a top-flight doctor with top-flight equipment - it's a world of difference.

I've gotten drastically different prescriptions when examined by the fresh-out-of-college entry level doctors/techs at the chain stores, and suffered for years with contacts and glasses that weren't right for me at all - I was even diagnosed with slight astigmatism at a Walmart Eyecare and suffered consistent headaches for over a year until I was out of disposable contacts again. Sigh.

It will feel SO much better to find someone really good and get it done right.

Just my $.02,


Comment 21 by John Hofmann posted on 10/22/2008 at 1:02 AM

Computer guys with lazy eye and patches? There's a shock. I, for one, had the funny shoes and leg braces. Who knew that we were poised to RULE THE WORLD!

Ray, I too only see an ophthalmologist/