Optimist vs. Optometrist

By Mir
July 13, 2009

It’s exceedingly rare for anyone to accuse me of being an optimist. In fact, I’d wager a guess that most folks who know me would peg me for a pessimist, but they’re all wrong, because what I ACTUALLY am is a REALIST.

Because, mostly, things suck. Except when they don’t.

Anyway, deep down in the darkest recesses of my cynical soul, it turns out that I occasionally wish things into existence. (No, I’ve never read The Secret. Nor do I care to. Clearly the person (people?) who wrote that wished for a lot of gullible people to buy their book.) But really, who amongst us hasn’t just hopedhopedhoped for something until it happened? I’m not saying it always works, but odds are that OCCASIONALLY it will.

I do try to hope for useful things, like for an Otto or for my child’s creeping crud to either clear up or at least get correctly diagnosed. But sometimes I hope for frivolous things, it’s true.

I’ve been wearing glasses for coming up on thirty years. THIRTY YEARS. (Holy hell, I am old.) And for the first ten years or so of that time, I would periodically hopehopehope that I could tolerate contact lenses, and I would go to the eye doctor, and I would get some lenses, and in very short order I would be fantasizing about clawing out my own eyeballs, and that would be the end of it.

Do I NEED contact lenses? No, of course I don’t. I can and do wear glasses. I’m not exactly working as a runway model, professional athlete, or in some other field where corrective lenses would be a major hindrance. Most days I just sit here at my computer and wearing my glasses is no big deal. But every now and then we get dressed up all fancy or we spend a day doing something where my glasses annoy me, and then I wish I could wear contacts.

Two years ago, when I moved down here, I went to a new optometrist and told him I wanted to try contacts again. He destroyed my hopes and left me convinced that no amount of hopehopehoping would ever make contacts a reality for me. Naturally, I wept and played sad songs on my tiny violin, and then I forgot about it entirely.

And then, my daughter got contacts. And she loves them. LOVES THEM. She can now pop them in in nothing flat, takes ’em out and cleans and stores them in about a minute, and wears them all the time; and when we got them I mentioned my eternal want-contacts-but-have-dry-eyes quandary to the optician, and she said, “Well, you know, lenses have come a long way. You should try them again!”

But I didn’t, because the voice of that MEAN OPTOMETRIST was still in the back of my brain. And why spend the money and whatever for something that’s not going to work?

Well. With all of the traveling (and hatehatehating wearing glasses on hikes and in the rain and such), somehow I got on this issue again, and I remembered that most likely, the optical center we used for Chickie’s lenses would give me a free trial pair. And if I can’t tolerate them, well, no biggie. No money lost. I’m due for an eye exam, anyway, so that’s fine.

The optometrist who fitted Chickadee was very sweet. There are, of course, two optometrists at this location. And I went in for my appointment this morning and discovered that I’d been booked with the OTHER one.

And the other optometrist? The same guy from two years ago, from a different eye place. The guy with the “you can’t wear lenses, you’re too old” routine and the sheaves of papers to back up his assertion. I would’ve recognized him anywhere, even if he didn’t still have his folder of studies with highlighted sections (which he totally did).

Fortunately, he didn’t remember me. This is because he’s over one hundred years old. So I chose my words carefully.

“I see you want to be fitted for contacts. Have you ever worn contacts before?” He asked, after checking my vision.

“Well, yes,” I admitted. “But I haven’t worn them in years.”

“Did you have success with them, before?” he asked.

“I had semi-permeable ones and my eyes were kind of dry,” I answered. Technically, this was not a lie. I actually DID have semi-permeable ones. In 1982. I conveniently left out the part about the soft lenses I had after that, though.

“Well, if you have dry eyes, you may not be able to tolerate even soft lenses,” he said, turning to his beloved folder of research studies. “In fact, the older you are, the dryer your eyes get…” as he rummaged, I decided to try being perky.

“Yes, well, she’s had SUCH good luck with her lenses,” I chirped, gesturing to Chickadee (who’d come along for moral support). “And the optician told me those Acuvue Oasys lenses are just SUPER for folks with dry eyes!”

He squinted at my daughter. I suddenly remembered that we’d been booked with the other optometrist, last time, because we were told that THIS one would refuse to fit contacts to a child under 14. “How old is she?” he demanded.

I played dumb. “Eleven! And she just LOVES her lenses and has been doing GREAT with them! Isn’t that great?” I smiled beatifically.

He actually GRUMBLED. Then he muttered something about how he would NEVER allow a child of that age to wear lenses, but then turned back to me. “Well, we can TRY a pair of the Oasys lenses,” he said, making it clear that he was doing me a HUGE FAVOR, “but if they don’t work for you, THAT’S IT. I’m not trying another brand on you. This is top of the line, and if you can’t tolerate them, you’re done. No contacts. Understand?”

“Yes sir,” I answered, trying not to smirk.

He went and fetched me a pair of lenses, and then left me to put them in. As it happens, my recent practice on my kid has left me adept in the ways of contact lenses, but I was stunned that he didn’t even bother asking if I knew what to do. I’d just told him I hadn’t worn lenses in twenty years, and all the instruction I received was “The sink’s over there.” Ooooookay.

I put in the lenses and wasn’t terribly overwhelmed with my vision. In fact, it took about three seconds to surmise that the lenses weren’t quite right. I went back to the exam chair and he peered at my eyes and made me read some letters and insisted they were probably fine. I commented a second time that I didn’t feel like they were very clear, and then a lightbulb went off in my head. “Um, are these toric lenses?” I asked.

He (of course) whipped a study out of his folder and began lecturing me about the movement of toric lenses on the eyeballs and how my astigmatism isn’t that bad and I’m probably better off with a non-toric lens.

“Soooo… this isn’t actually my prescription?” I asked.

“It’s very close,” he said, as if I’d just insulted his wife.

“But it’s not close enough. Because I still can’t SEE.”

“You can see pretty well,” he huffed. “Toric lenses have been shown to disturb the field of vision in a way that’s not significantly advantageous.”

“May I TRY the toric lenses, please?”

“Fine, but if you don’t like them, WE’RE DONE.”

Never in my life have I felt so much like I was being a huge pain in the ass to someone when I just wanted them to, you know, DO THEIR JOB.

He got me the toric lenses, and I took out the first pair and put the second pair in. My vision was crystal clear. I did a small happy dance with Chickadee before returning to be examined.

“These are great! Thank you so much!” He continued grumbling, reminded me that if my eyes are too dry there are no other options, and then told me to come back in a week to order them if I still like them. I thanked him again and we went on our way, after buying some cheapie generic reading glasses for use over the contacts.

Later I got into my car and put on my sunglasses, only to remember that, oh yeah, I need non-prescription sunglasses, too. Whoops.

I wore them for six hours today before considering clawing my eyes out, but it WAS my very first day. We’ll see how long I last tomorrow.

I totally wished this into existence! Except the part where I got the same curmudgeon for an eye doctor. And now I have to be successful in wearing them just on principle, because otherwise the grumpy old men with manila folders win.


  1. exile on mom street


    I have the same problem and was really excited when you tweeted that you found good contacts, but alas I have tried the Oasys and still wanted to claw my eyes out in 4 hours.

    I hope you have infinitely better success!

  2. Chuck

    My hearing is less than perfect (mainly in high frequencies) but my eyesight has always been better than 20/20. I need to see a doctor for a checkup on it since I turned 40, but I think I’m still good. Sometimes I forget to be thankful for what I have…when I feel annoyed about having tinnitus and possibly needing a hearing aid someday…I forget that hey, my eyes are perfectly OK. Hope your new contacts work out great for you and that you never have to see that PITA grumpy old optometrist again.

  3. Diane

    You really do need to break them in gradually – a pain, I know, but it makes oh so much difference in your perceived ability to tolerate them. They can correct me better than 20/20 with the gas perm, though they are a bit more uncomfy than the soft. Yea for seeing clearly! And rewetting drops (for in-eye use) are wonderful.

    Just think of all the cute sunglasses (and reading glasses, if you need them) you can get now – for cheap! You and Chickadee should totally get matching shades.

  4. Jamie AZ

    That eye doctor just sucks. Hopefully you can go to his partner, Mr. Nice Optician, for your future appointments. Good luck with the contacts! I loved mine before I got LASIK. Now I love that more.

  5. Crista

    I’m sorry you got that curmudgeon again, but it made for an entertaining story. I wonder if *he* knows what “blog fodder” is :)
    I HOPEHOPEHOPE that the contacts work out for you!

  6. wafelenbak

    Ha! I totally would keep wearing the contacts, even if they made me sick and drove me bonkers, just to spite that cranky old guy. ;)

  7. Groovecatmom

    Why no Lasik? I had it and now I can see the alarm clock in the middle of the night! (Not always a good thing.) And I can read the shampoo bottle in the shower! (Probably not that great either). And I can wear any cute sunglasses I like! (Definitely the best part.)

  8. Anna

    Success! Building up to a whole day’s worth of wearing them is a good idea. Have fun, and show that old guy he’s wrong.

  9. hokgardner

    Um, I think I’d be firing that eye doctor and finding a new one. But I hope the lenses work out.

  10. Heather

    Nuts to grumpy old men, anyway :P
    I usually wear glasses, but being able to tolerate contacts for up to eight hours can make a whole lot of difference for dress-up nights, or activities! even if you’re not comfortable with them on daily basis, occasional wear is brilliant! :)

  11. Jean

    I am astounded when I hear stories like yours. That guy is definitely an MD-wannabe. He wants to have authority and control, but is only able to insult people about their eyewear choices. Imagine if you hadn’t known what to ask for and what ultimately needed correction. What a stinker. What are the odds that you would run into him a second time???

    Here’s hoping that you prove him COMPLETELY WRONG. Best wishes on the adjustment to contacts and here’s to better vision with no hassle!

  12. ChristieNY

    I am in LOVE with my oasys and pop them in when I’m going to the beach or pool or whatever, but still bring my glasses with me to put on when I get in the car afterwards.

    I have VERY dry eyes (in my case, hereditary) and have to use the Blink drops (without contacts in) regularly, have you tried them?

    I found if I put the Blink drops in a few minutes BEFORE my Oasys contacts, my eyes can handle the lenses for much longer.

    Good luck with them!!! :)

  13. Lucinda

    Good luck. I just went back to contacts last December. It took a few tries to find ones that worked because of my astigmatism but we got it and I’ve been thrilled. Good luck. I hope they work for you.

  14. Mom24@4evermom

    Should I tell you about my toric-vision, multi-focal lenses? (No reading glasses required. yeah!) Be a pain in the ass, I bet you can do it.

    Good luck.

  15. Half Assed Kitchen

    What a crappy optometrist. But I’m glad the lenses look like they may work!

  16. jennifer

    What an ass. (Can I say that on the internet?) Well, I’m glad you are having some luck because wearing glasses can be very annoying when going from a cool home to a humid outdoors, or when swimming, or other such things.

  17. Em

    I think peripheral vision is worth the occassional eye clawing urge. Love contacts so much I fall asleep in them sometimes and can actually hear the pain squicking in my eyes. So don’t do that. And for the love of Pete, don’t go back to that mean old man! Lastly, not to be condescending but I’m really proud of you for sticking to your guns with him and insisting on what you wanted. I want to try that someday!

  18. Katie

    I wear those exact lemses, toric and all. I only have astigatisim in one eye and I can tell the difference after a full day of wearing them. Don’t worry, you will get use to them. Eye drops. And they are totally worth it. Amd blurry vision? Not a chance. Remember to blink. That helps too.

  19. Crisanne

    Your story reminds me of the time-at 37 weeks pregnant-I had to nearly insist that my OB-of-the-week check me for dialation. “If you REALLY want me to check, I can” she said. Like that’s something you look forward to?? Sorry, dear, you’re the one that chose this field…well that’s what I wanted to say.

  20. Colleen

    Hey, I think that guy must’ve moved from Colorado. I saw him when I was 18 (and he was old then) and he told me my prescription wasn’t strong enough for contacts and that all I needed was glasses, except that he wanted me to wear my glasses all the time because I couldn’t see well enough without them. I was 18 and got the glasses and never wore them because it was 1990 and the glasses were ugly. Anyway, get a better eye doctor. If the contacts work for you, you’re going to want someone who’ll work with you.

  21. momzen

    The day I got my contact lenses for the first time, I wandered around my college campus crying my eyes out. My friend asked me why I bothered. “For vanity!” I wailed. Ha! The good news is that they did eventually get comfortable, and I can wear them all day long now. (And the oasis lenses rock!)

  22. Brigitte

    Ooh, I am also “hatehatehating wearing glasses on hikes and in the rain and such”, and wish I had the money for Lasik.

    Knowing me, I probably would have taken one look at the guy, said something like “Oh! I thought my appointment was with the COMPETENT doctor!” and left and never come back again, for fear of seeing him. Oops!

  23. Damsel

    Yay!! Hope they work for you long-term! I love mine!

  24. Carla Hinkle

    I got fitted for contacts (successfully) when I was 11. That was *25* years ago. Not sure what the curmudgeon’s problem is but hey, at least you got your lenses!

  25. Celeste

    Hey, this is BETTER than if you got Nice Optometrist. You may have successfully exorcised the voice of the Curmudgeon out of your head, by BENDING HIM TO YOUR WILL. Listen for a minute and see! : )

  26. Megan

    Hoorah! I so love my contacts not just for vanity but for the clearer vision and the lack of something on my face and the no-red-mark on my nose and…

    … so in a non-mystical The Secret sort of way I do so hope these work for you!

    Also, that guy needs a swift kick in the pants.

  27. Tammy

    Uh, Mir? That “wishing things into existence” thing? Some folks would call that praying. Just sayin’.

    Perhaps your next “wish” could be for the Grumpy Optometrist to retire. ;)

    Congrats on making it 6 hours with your new contacts. Baby steps!

  28. radioactivetori

    I think you may be a lot like me in that you may succeed in this just to spite that mean man. It isn’t mature, I know, but if it works it is fine with me. Good luck!

  29. Beth R

    Quick question: has anyone reported that jackass to the owner of the store/office? Sounds to me like he was downright rude to you, and that’s not acceptable behavior in anyone.

  30. Aimee

    What is UP with that crabby old bastard? Jeez…

    Prove him wrong, oh Oasys lenses!

  31. Debbi

    That grumpy old doctor needs to retire! Good for you for standing up for yourself. Best of luck with the contacts, take it slow and let your eyes get used to it. :-)

  32. Amelia

    ok, life is seriously WAY TOO SHORT to see rude doctors. if you were my friend in real life, i would badger you to make an appointment with the other one next time. and to make an appointment at a totally different clinic if they won’t let you switch. as it is, i guess i will have to settle for a comment here. (grumble complain grumble)

  33. highlyirritable

    I think with all your positive thinking going on, you may have actually channelled me this morning, because I was JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS! I have wickedly dry eyes, but HATE wearing my glasses. Even though they are beautiful ones (sparkly Coco Chanel’s that cost more than my first car) I missed being able to throw on a pair of $15 drugstore sunglasses.

    I recently switched to Encore Toric and absolutley LOVE them. My eyes stay wet for up to 10 hours and longer if I use some drops periodically. Another hint is to use the right cleaner. I use CIBA Care Clear Vision, and it makes them so wet I consider it the optical version of KY Jelly.

    Oh, and if an eye doctor I WAS PAYING treated me that way, I’d pretend I couldnt see at all and “accidentally” knock him in the nuts with my purse on that way out. But that’s me…

  34. Randi

    I had contacts before my kids were born (I have astigmatism too) and loved them. Then I had kids and, oops, kind of neglected them. Now that my youngest is going into kindergarten (WAH) I want them again, desperately, and have an appointment at the end of this month to get my vision checked (I guarantee the prescription’s changed…again…) and to beg for contacts. Glad to know about the accuvue oasis and that they work well – I’ll ask for them!!

    And can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use your power of good thought to get me REAL high speed?! We have satellite internet, even though our high speed is only 3/4 of a mile away, and nothing I’ve been able to do, including good thought/writing nice letters/threatening to lop off someone’s scalp at the company has managed to get us real high speed.

    Just asking! :)

  35. Dawn

    As a fellow member of the Dry Eyes Club, I feel your pain (literally). I would refuse to go back to that old poop, though. Can’t you request an appointment with the nice lady? Also I would complain about grumpy-shorts.

    /end assvice

    So looking forward to reading that the lenses are a success!

  36. MomCat

    If you need a stress reliever, I suggest you go claw the eyes out of that optomitrist. (Good luck with the lenses!)

  37. Melinda

    What a grumpy old turd of a man. I would have had a hard time not sticking my tongue out at him in pretest of his stick up the you-know-what ways. Good luck with the contacts. I wear the same kind and I have also have very dry allergy eyes all the time. What I found works best for me is the solution called Clear Care. Using that solution has increased how many hours a day I can wear my lenses. Love it.

  38. Summer

    Mir, I’m so torn. On the one hand, I really like you and want only good things for you and your family, so that part of me wants you to get competent, compassionate medical care. But on the other hand, your entries about your medical misadventures are so funny and entertaining….

    The nice part of me is winning. Do NOT go back to order your lenses. Buy them online; they’ll be cheaper, and you’ll just have to input your prescription and the name and address of the optician, and the online contacts place will confirm your prescription with them. I haven’t bought lenses at a brick and mortar place in probably a decade.

  39. raina

    That eye doctor sounds like an ass! I wore the Oaysis ones for a while and then my eyes decided they were too dry for even THOSE so I went and whined to my sweetheart of an eye doctor. He said that I might have an easier time with the daily contacts. I now wear the Acuvue Moist daily ones and they are pretty great. I find that after 12 hours or so though my eyes say GET THESE OUT! But I can live with 12 hours, thats for sure.

    The only downside is the cost, but if you dont wear them every day the cost is not as bad. I stretch mine out a little by wearing glasses for a few days a week. (also I agree with everyone else, buy them online!)

  40. Javamom

    Grumpy old men. I realize this may be a pain in the ass for you but perhaps you could just use C’s doctor who will help you find the right contacts for your vision. I’ve had a good and a GREAT optometrist, who both took the time to give me samples until the ones that fit right FIT right and I can WEAR all day and half the night if I so choose…they’re out there, those doctors. Grumpy old men….belong in movies.

    Good luck!

  41. Kelly

    What about Lasik? At first my eyes were more dry but now over a year later – love the results… barely have to use eye drops, no glasses, no contacts…

  42. gina

    Your guy reminds me of the optometrist who said that I needed bifocals. When I was 19! My next appointment was with an opthamologist, who told me to never see an optometrist again.

    And as for the bifocals, it’s been more 15 years since then and I’m still in regular glasses.

  43. Keyomi

    Yay for trials! sorry for the experience though! njoy. u will do just gr8!

  44. Tracy

    I can’t tolerate rudeness. I would NOT go back to Dr. Grumpy. I’m hopehopehopehoping the lens work!

  45. erin

    My dad is an optometrist an hour away from where you (and I) live and one of his business partners works in our town. I SO wonder if he is “nice optometrist” (I know he isn’t mean old one cause he’s younger than my dad, who just turned 50).

    good luck with the lenses from a girl who was legally blind without them from 4th grade until I got lasik a few years ago!

  46. Sheila

    “You can see pretty well.”


    That, coming from a guy who went TO SCHOOL AND EVERYTHING to give people the gift of CLEAR VISION? What a tool.

  47. Katie in MA

    Oh, that was hilarious! :) Here’s hoping the contacts keep working…if only because I love their name!

  48. Karen

    I am very happy for you!!

    I always say that every pessimist thinks he is a realist!!

  49. Little Bird

    Fire the optometrist. Or at the very least never ever go back to him. I had luck with Bauch and Lomb (I know I goofed the spelling) Soft Lens 66 about ten years ago. They were the thinnest on the market at the time. I went back to glasses when I lost my insurance, but would have kept ’em otherwise. Contacts give you more options! Best of luck!

  50. Cele

    Maybe he’ll retire before you go back in.

  51. Andrea

    Oooh…I love this:
    “Never in my life have I felt so much like I was being a huge pain in the ass to someone when I just wanted them to, you know, DO THEIR JOB.”
    Why, oh why, do people who work with the public so often act this way?!?!

  52. Karen

    I looked at the comments and didn’t see anyone else recommend Systane eye drops. I have dry eyes and I was nearly ready to give up on my contacts. My eye doctor had me put them in 8x per day for 1 week, 4x per day the next, and then go to morning and evening and as needed. It has really made a difference.

  53. Paulla

    What an awful doctor! I’d never go back to him. I have extremely dry eyes but have a wonderful doctor who has helped me thru it and I use the Acuvue Oasys as well. I have a whole assortment of drops that I use, especially in the winter time. One set of mineral oil drops that I put in an hour before putting in the contacts. I’m on vacation now and left the oil drops at home, but when I get back, I’ll send you the name. Good luck w/the lenses!

  54. Jenn

    I’ve been wearing glasses for almost 30 years, but then again, I’ve had them since I was 3 or 4.

    The first lenses were “very close” and he thought you could see “pretty well,” so he was just going to let you go with them? What the hell is that guy’s problem?

  55. sue

    Luckily, my optometrist was an optimist, and promised that we would find contacts that worked for me. Still, I tried various lenses, drops and cleaning methods for nearly two years before I figured out what worked for my dry eyes and astigmatism! When I tried Restasis, a prescription eye drop, and daily disposables I hit the jackpot. Easy Peasy – no more corn flakes in my eyes. The slightly higher cost is worth every penny!! And ordering on the internet is about seventy per cent less expensive than the eye doctor.

  56. Kris

    Do every potential patient of his a favor and REPORT HIM. Sounds just like my back surgeon who knew better than everyone else (including me) what I was feeling. I hate to say it, but I’m almost glad the man died this year. Harsh, I know, but he was one of the worst doctors in the world. I don’t care if he was world-renown. He had the bedside manner of a crocodile with a tooth abscess.

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