Eye test and contact lens aftercare today, always a slightly uncomfortable situation: trapped in a very small booth with a much younger person (Colin’s Rule of all embarrassing situations – the other person is always much younger than yourself) and all I can think about is my breath. Why did I have that curry last night? Breathing as shallowly and slowly as possible just makes my head swim. It is hard to focus on anything when the room is spinning…
A piece of equipment, looking disconcertingly like a Star Wars Imperial Guard is spun towards me. “Rest your chin on here,” says the very nice lady (VNL) who is conducting your tests, “and your forehead on here.”
“Well sorry, but it is possible to do only one or the other. I can only assume that the person having the tests done before me was one of Doctor Frankenstein’s creations. Whoever it was had a face that was longer than my arm,” I think, but do not say. I try to smile, but I sense I am grimacing.
Levers are pressed and my chin arcs up towards my forehead, lifting my backside clear of the chair. “Is that better?” asks the VNL.
“Yes,” I reply, trying very hard not to sound too much like Kermit the Frog with his tiny green balls caught in a mousetrap.
“Right then,” she continues, “Look at the hot air balloon. It will come into and out of focus. Don’t worry about it.” I’m not. I’m worrying about why I can’t even see a hot air balloon either fuzzy or otherwise. “That’s good,” she says with the remarkable absence of any sign of a sigh. “Now you will feel a puff of air. Don’t worry if it makes you blink… although it would be better if you could open your eyes for me now…”
“I can hear the ‘click’,” I explain “and my eyes just blink automatically.”
“Perhaps you could try to distract them… Next we are going to take some photographs of the back of your eyes, so try not to blink at all now.”
Have you ever tried not to blink when told not to blink? It is like trying to convince yourself that you don’t need to wee when the toilet is broken. I open my eyes as wide as I can. At least if they fall out of their sockets here, I think, there should at least be somebody capable of putting them back.
“…Now, without your contact lenses or spectacles, can you read me the smallest line you can see on the chart.”
“Chart? Without contact lenses or spectacles I can barely see the wall!”
“That’s fine, I’ll put some lenses in. Now, what can you read now?”
“OK, we’ll come back to that. Look at the figures on the wall. Are they clearer on the red background or the green?”
“I’ll do it again, just say which is the clearest. Red or green?”
“Er… They both look the same.”
“Yes, I think so.”
“What about now?”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Er… Not really, no…”
“I think we’d better just take a little look into your eyes. Put your chin on here again and stare straight ahead.”
I can’t. Why can’t I just look straight ahead? My eyes are all over the place; I can feel them leaping around the room like they’re on a pogo stick. I can’t stop blinking. Why am I so… blinky?
“That’s fine,” says the smiling VNL, pulling the giant equipment, to which my chin appears to have become temporarily welded, away from me.
“I’m sorry if I looked the wrong way,” I croak. “I’m not very good with left and right.”
“No problem,” she says. “You did really well with the ‘up’ and ‘down’…” Thank goodness for a VNL with a sense of humour. “Well,” she continues, “I can see very slight signs of degeneration and early indications of cataracts forming, but don’t worry, it’s to be expected in somebody of your age…”
Amazing how quickly you can go off people…