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I have thick eye-walls | The Bleat.

eyechart

Finally, I’m starting to see again. Went to get my head examined, subset eyeballs, tonight; all is fine. No chancres in the macular area, no glaucoma, the latter fact proved by an ultrasound exam. Yes, they ultrasounded my eyes. I’m carrying twins! The amount of sheer Technology thrown at me this visit was surprising; last time it was the hated puff-of-air in the eye, followed by a slow, tendentious exam: better? Worse? Same? Is it safe? This time I had the breeziest eye doc ever, a fellow with a line of patter and figures of speech that flowed like water from a spring. He could have sold me a car while he was at it.

But like all eye exams, the diagnosis consisted of a contradiction of the previous diagnosis. It’s all subjective, it seems, an art form, and every time I get my eyes checked the doctor questions the previous prescription. By my estimates I haven’t had the proper prescription for a DECADE, and 10 years ago I was fitted with glasses that were supposedly too strong. Never quite noticed the downside there. Oh, folks appeared as walking skeletons, sure, but otherwise no problem.

Anyway: I did the eye exam. I got the drops. I had the ultrasound. I peered into a camera that scanned my eyeballs for something or other. I had pictures taken of my optic nerve, splashed up on a monitor for my entertainment: here’s your nerve, here’s the gutters that transfer the information to your brain, here’s your macular part. Bad news: high pressure in the eyeball, which could be a precursor to glaucoma. Gosh, doc, what are the symptoms? He said: not many symptoms, unfortunately. You just go along, la da dah, then uh oh. But that’s when he gave me the ultrasound, and said “ah,” and sat down to explain: I had thick eye-walls. Most people have eye-walls that are 500 to 550 microns thick; mine were 650 microns thick. This distorted the eyeball pressure readings.

“Is this peer-reviewed stuff,” I asked, “or something the salesmen for the ultrasound machine say?” He assured me it was actual science. Other things he told me: the eyeglass racket is concentrated mostly in Italy; they own most of the brands. I could get the frames online for cheaper, and there was an advantage – they’re cheaper! – but here I paid for fitting and measuring and guarantees and not having to mail things back, and so on. And so on. Here’s the thing: the guy liked his job. He liked his work. He liked people. Garrulous, funny, ironic, and knowledgeable. (When I mentioned the high price of frames, he said “The prescription’s the technical part,” he said; he jerked a thumb towards to the door, indicating the showroom beyond. “Out there, it’s the jewelry store.”) Got in right away. Flat fee for the job. High-tech diagnostics. Perfect. I’d be wearing my new glasses now, except that -

Well, he was going through the various options, and made a long involved analogy between anti-reflective coating and chrome rims on a car. “You can’t see them. They don’t make the car run faster.” He shrugged: whatever you want; some people like the chrome rims.

“I’m in TV broadcasting now,” I said, amending it to ward off hubris: “On the internet. But we have lots of light on the set.”

I went with the chrome rims.

The salesguy said the frames looked good on me! but I had to ask if he ever told anyone their choice looked stupid.

“Oh yes,” he said. “But not like that. Maybe, like, oh I think this might be a better look.” But if Madame wanted a push-up rhinestone spangled bra and Madame wanted to pay, he’d write up the order. He got out a little machine that fitted over my eyes and did something, and wrote down some numbers. Took my insurance: it had a 25% discount! But the store was having a 30% sale. He recommended the sale price. I said that would be fine.

In seven to ten days, a new look.

Wonder if anyone will notice.

Busy day all around; didn’t get to posting the Black and White World. It’s below. Column night; I also spent a lot of time just talking with my wife, which cut into evening work – and, I watched an old “American Experience” documentary (available on Netflix streaming) about the crash of ’29, with interviews of old cackling men who were on the trading floor when it all ended. We never learn: every boom ends with the patter of shrapnel.

Bleatplus is up. Here’s a taste to get you, yes you, to contribute to the site and get your password:
spacersml
james
spacersml

I found this at the antique store last weekend, along with several other old labels, examples of commonplace commercial design, the way the world looked. Remember how I’ve lamented how the details of ordinary life are mostly lost – the scents, the signs, the slang, the sound? When I was in the store’s basement I passed a booth where the seller was arranging things, and caught a strong tang of a bygone aroma. Stopped: whoa: what? She winced and said she’d dropped a small sample bottle of men’s cologne. It broke; the scent escaped. It was like the ghost of Dads Past – piney, astringent. It had a brief moment in the air before the ventilation system inhaled it and sent it away. For a moment, there it was. That’s the curator’s curse: the past is in the bottles. But you can never bring yourself to crack the seal. It takes an accident to catch a whiff of the truth. And then it’s gone.

Tomorrow: Sears 1934, Comic Ads, a column . . . and a surprise. I think. See you then; have a grand dat!

 

39 Responses to I have thick eye-walls

  1. Kim says:

    I’ve had it with glasses – I’m goin’ for Lasik this year. I’m at that awful point of progressive lenses (no bi-focals for me!) where it’s a big difference between lookin’ out and looking down.

    And it’s really hard to get an itty bitty contact lens to give you distance vision, near vision and fix an astigmatism. It tries valiantly to perform, but alas, it is all for naught.

    Can’t wait to see the new frames, James!

    Now I’m off to have a grand “dat”! : D

  2. swschrad says:

    I like that eye chart. woot. yer pwned.

    I recently had an eyeball — nay, THE eyeball, the other one is for show and some peripheral vision — reamed and rehabbed. cataract surgery. the lucky majority get the clouded funky lens dissolved in the eye with an ultrasonic probe. then they Hoover it out. I don’t think they use maximum power for that one.

    then they slip in the new plastic lens, with little side tabs to hook under the focus muscles so it actually works like the real thing. shot in through a large needle. the lens is rolled up, and unfolds in the lens capsule.

    good thing they get you way goofy for that one. did a little research, as you might guess, and the common anasthesia for this sort of thing is propofol. so I told the anasthesiast that I’ll have what Jacko is having.

    still can’t dance. (other slimy jacko joke of your choice here.)

  3. Paul says:

    James, that eye chart is brilliant.

    Re glasses, about a year ago I went to a different optometrist. Nice guy, relaxed (always have your blood pressure checked while having an eye exam. It’s amazing how low the raadings can be, as if the whole vibe of an eye exam is like Gordon Lightfoot to the ol’ diastolic reading. Just mellows you out.) And he said my current eye prescription was way too strong. He gave me samples of the revised, slightly less corrective, contacts. Whoa. Everything was right. Not necessarily sharper. It just looked right. Like there was less distortion, like you’re not seeing the world through a slight shimmer of heat rising from hot asphalt. The corrective power of needed reading glasses dropped from 2.5 to 1.5 or 1. And a slight nagging headache at the end of a long day went away.

    So heed the “too strong a prescription” statement.

  4. Spud says:

    Sorry to hear about your eye pressure buildup. I was diagnosed with glaucoma a few years ago, have had a few laser surgeries and I’ll have to have my eye pressure checked for the rest of my life (or if I lose my eyeballs). It’s the silent vision killer, as you don’t know anything is happening until it’s too late.

    I watched the last half of “Mulholland Falls” last night: Nick Nolte before alcohol brought him down and an ooh-la-la Melanie Griffith, along with a cast of stars. Bruce Dern played a police chief, and I coveted his glass frames. They were the prominent black Ray-Bans with the silver wire support under the lenses. They’re difficult to find (at least for me), although I suppose you can find them sometimes at an antique store. I have a strange aversion to wearing other people’s glasses, even if I’ve swapped out the lenses. I guess it’s like wearing used shoes – I’d just rather not.

  5. Brisko says:

    Enjoyed today’s BleatPlus. Now you’ll need to tell us the story of Lena one of these days.

  6. Bizarcane says:

    That last paragraph … wistful, poignant. Good way to start the day.

  7. I’m thinking Roy Orbison / Early Elvis Costello.

    Really it’s a good look.

    I don’t mind the eye puff. And if I recall, the whole family goes in to see Dr. Yamada for eye checkups on February 20th. He’s a great doc with a great practice. Open on Saturdays. Located in a bad part of Sacramento, only a 45 minute drive away. All of our friends see him for eye care as well. His daughter is a partner in the practice now, and they’ve brought in another nice young doc. Just a nice visit. Kids like going too.

    Never new my vision was deteriorating until one year I had to take a DOT physical to renew my Commercial Driver’s License. I thought I struggled because of a long day, after a string of long days, but I passed the eye exam. The next renewal DOT physical two years later, and I was literally sweating while taking the exam.

    Doc’s conclusion: You need glasses.

    What? I’ve always had 16/20 vision.

    His response: Not anymore.

    I no longer renew my Commercial Driver’s license, and I can pass a DMV eye exam, so there is no restriction on my License any longer. But I keep them on for computer work (11 hours a day) reading and night driving. Prescription sunglasses seem to make a difference while playing golf.

    Now I need to check my hearing since I know I have a problem there, from years of loud guitar (thanks Ted Nugent, now we have something else in common) and sitting next to 42U equipment racks all day long…

  8. Mark S. says:

    LASIK 8 years ago was the best decision I made regarding my eyes. I no longer have to worry about contacts or glasses (at least not until my eye muscles atrophy and I’ll need reading glasses). I highly recommend it to all.

  9. HunkyBobTX says:

    I like the Pabst Blue Ribbon Malt extract label in the Bleat plus section.
    No doubt it’s from the prohibition era, or at least a result of it.

  10. wiredog says:

    “He assured me it was actual science.”
    That’s what they said about global warming. We’re expecting a couple feet of snow here in NoVa. Sure, in the Frozen Tundra of Minnesota that’s nothing. Down here in the South it’s the Snowpocalypse.

    Actually, since it happened in December, it’s Snowpocalypse II:The Sequel.

    When I was 11, in a playground disagreement, I received an eye injury that left my left eye with 20/200 vision. No central vision (scar on the retina), so I don’t really see stereo. Ophthalmologists and optometrists have fun looking at it.

  11. wendy gunther says:

    @Kim: When I went for my Lasik, I watched an obligatory Patient Education video that went like this.

    “Nearsighted? We can fix that!

    Farsighted? We can fix that!

    Astigmatism? We can fix that!

    Combinations of the above? We can fix that!

    Presbyopia (eyes getting older, needing bifocals)? We can’t fix that!”

    And they didn’t.

    @Juanito – John Davey: We’re all getting older.

  12. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    It was like the ghost of Dads Past… And then it’s gone.

    Last summer I was walking through the town and I smelt my Dad go by. Soap, cigarette smoke and leather. It was 25 years since he died. But there he was. It was just for a moment. Then he was gone again.

  13. “thick eye-walls” WBAGNFARB

  14. Diane says:

    My eye guy is very technology minded; I had my first ocular ultrasound four years ago, for the same reason. He’s also the same age as me – every time he mentions an advancement in treating future eye problems, I just tell him he has to go first.

    Scent is a more powerful trigger for memories than almost anything else, isn’t it?

  15. It certainly is Diane. Every time I get a whiff of creosote, it takes me back to the summer when I was 6. The railroad had just dropped a huge load of replacement ties for track maintenance on the siding in our village. Since it was August in the Midwest it was hot, airless, and muggy. The smell of creosote was inescapable. Just writing about it now, I can visualize just where they put them on the North end of town across from the general store.

  16. Menthol Cigarettes, Dentyne gum, and hairspray would some up my mom circa 1965.

  17. Brisko says:

    [quote]@Juanito – John Davey: We’re all getting older.[/quote]

    @wendy gunther

    Not me. I’ve got Benjamin Button Syndrome.

  18. Kriesa says:

    I’ve been getting lenses with the anti-reflective coating for probably the past ten years. Last time I got new glasses, I was feeling poor, and decided to go without. I am so glad that I did. My night vision is 50% better without the coating (contrary to the advertising) and they fog up less in the winter. The tech said that I’d be bothered by reflections of overhead lighting, but they are not in my line of vision at all. Within months, my coated lenses always looked slightly scuffed, and they smudged all the time. My uncoated lenses still look like new a year later, and only need to be cleaned once a day. I feel like I was getting ripped off, all those years that I fell for the anti-reflective spiel.

    Of course, if I made my living on film, I might feel differently about them.

  19. Borderman says:

    Had 20/20 vision until computers came along. Twelve years after buying a text-only 80-column KayPro 4 ’84 with the 9 in. screen, glasses were needed to see the icons in Windows 95 on a 13-inch screen. Getting old, like war, is hell, as everybody knows. Terrific eye chart, am still grinning. Can you post a translation of the acronyms after WTF?

    -0-

    Agreed, scent is indeed the most powerful memory trigger. Sound is close, oldies radio can put you in the Wayback Machine, but scent trumps all. Being near the electric trams (streetcars) in Melbourne, Australia smells very much like being around the mechanical cable cars in San Francisco. Why? Not a clue. Something to do with the brakes, maybe. Salt air, proximity to a bay, is another common factor.

  20. wiredog says:

    Growing old beats hell out of the alternative.

  21. wiredog says:

    Oh, and
    “shut the F up
    owned
    you’re a new guy
    laughing my ass off rolling on the floor
    ok thanks bye “

  22. browniejr says:

    It would seem that measurement of eye-wall thickness should be an input parameter BEFORE measuring eyeball pressure, rather than relying on an average measurement… What do they do if your pressure is low? Hook up the compressor and add a few pounds?!?

    Got rid of my need for eyeglass fashions every few years by getting Lasik about 3 years ago. Worked fine except for my need for reading glasses due to the dreaded Presbyopia/ old age. I was nearsighted before, about 20/200- 20/300. One of the options discussed before Lasik was correcting one eye for near vision, the other for far vision. Sounded too weird to try, so I didn’t do it. Wiredog- what is it like? (sounds like you got it in a playground version of Lasik).

  23. swschrad says:

    acronyms, from top to bottom.

    OMG – oh, my God.
    STFU – shut the (!) up.
    PWN3D – aka 0wn3d. you been hacked, we own your computer, down to root level. we’re already buying stuff with your credit card numbers.
    URAN00B – you are a n00b = newbie = my dog knows more about computers.
    LMAOROTF – laughing my ass off, rolling on the floor = it’s funny
    KTHXBYE:P – ok, son. thanks. g’bye. pthffffppp.

    glasses lens coating: this time around, I got zeiss lenses. coating is a little different; it’s not yet like a gobotar lens, but it’s a little tougher than many. the glasses guys told me even so, clean them with a little dish detergent on the fingers under running water, and always dry with a soft clean cloth. they threw in a siliconized nonwoven cloth for the purpose. have not worn through this coating yet. I usually start getting thin spots or “crackle” on coated lenses within 6 months.

    that really shows up under polarization, and of course, since I got the fancy Japanese frames with the polarized sunnies that magnetically click on, it would be massively obvious.

  24. swschrad says:

    forgot… that sequence of acronyms would be the reaction of the hacker as they actively broke into your computer. as an eye chart, it is just freakin’ hilarious to me, since most opthamologists are using computer-driven eye test equipment for everything except the actual fitting and slit lamp to look at the back of your eye and, without the handheld lens, the back side of the front of your eyeball.

  25. Tony Dickson says:

    @Spud Google Shuron Ronsir ZYL for brand new 1940s-60s style eyeglass frames.

  26. Will says:

    My sister and her husband both got lasiked 10 years ago. They loved it then, but they both are now wearing glasses again. YMMV.

    I don’t mind wearing glasses, so I’ve never been really tempted by the Laser. And, to my risk-averse way of thinking, the surgery would have to come with a signed, notarized certificate from God guaranteeing that it wouldn’t have any unpleasant side effects, and that it would last till I croaked.

    I do hate eye exams, though. Thanks to my mother, I am very near-sighted and have to be checked for macular and lattice degeneration. Dilation + super-bright exam light= about a three-day headache.

  27. lanczos says:

    650m? SIX-fifty? OMG! – This is a sure sign of the Alien Invasion Of Earth By The Venusian Honeybee People!

  28. wendy gunther says:

    @Brisko:

    Benjamin Button syndrome? I’ll believe that when I see it.

    Course, Lasik and all, I may not be able to see it when I see it.

    By the way: I was given PRK instead of Lasik (something about having eyes more suitable for one procedure than the other). The difference is PRK makes you feel like you stood in a sandstorm for twenty-four hours.

    With your eyelids pegged open.

  29. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – i wonder if your eye doc has this gahan wilson cartoon on his wall…

    http://blog.timesunion.com/comics/files/2008/07/pbc1eyedoc.jpg

    it’s surprisingly popular amongst optometrists…

  30. Ed Earl says:

    Twitch,

    Had emergency eye surgery for a detached retins in October — fully macular strip tease. Nothing glamorous like the old DeeCee days — no ticked off husband or bar brawl. Just old age — eye jelly apparently liquifies and collapses. One in 80 million or whatever the odds are — the jelly peels off the retina. So, don’t mess around with this stuff, cuz.

    Surly

  31. Natalie says:

    This is completely unrelated to anything in the Bleat, but I just had to comment. Well, we’re in for another winter storm as we call them in the south. You would call it just another day. But, we’re supposed to get some ice here (… waiting while you finish yawning…).

    Anyway, I have some old Diners on my iPod and had to get some groceries today. Dumb idea since it’s days like this that everyone stocks up on everything in case the ice brings with it the Apocalypse.

    Anyway (again), I just want to thank you, James, for helping me tune out the crazys at Walmart. Seriously. Popped on the iPod and I was sitting at a stool at the long boomerang Formica counter with my coffee and pie and dead to the mass collection of insane carts around me.

    I do love the Diner.

  32. GardenStater says:

    I’m 49 years old, and the only member of my family that’s never needed glasses. GardenWifey, on the other hand, is blind as the proverbial bat. So is GardenSon#1, who just turned 16 and has worn glasses for the past 4 years. GardenSon#2 has fine vision, just like dad.

    Oddly enough, I never needed braces, either–I’ve got perfectly straight choppers. GardenWifey? Palate widener + retainer + braces. GardenSon#1? Palate widener + retainer + braces. GardenSon#2? Perfectly straight teeth, just like dad.

    Weird how that happens.

    Anyway, I’m grateful every day that I have good eyes.

  33. James Vaughan says:

    … chrome rims, video lights – bad move!

  34. Maharincess says:

    Need to pass an eye test for your driver’s license? Come to Rhode Island! My eye doctor told me a new patient came in because he flunked the DMV’s eye test. But the helpful DMV clerk handed him her glasses, and when he successfully read the eye chart with them, handed him a new license. Gotta love them govt. employees!

  35. Ry YYZ says:

    I first got a pair of glasses with the AR coating maybe 10 years ago, and thought they were a real improvement, but also noticed that they tended to be difficult to clean. So, the next time I got glasses I went without the AR coating, and was driven to distraction when driving at night by the reflections off the inside of the lenses, and even worse off the outside of the lenses, reflected back by the inside of my helmet visor (and then back again and so on) when riding my motorcycle at night. Last time around I got the lenses with the AR coating AND the easy-clean coating. This pair has been really good, but I’ve had them for several years so I guess it’s about time I went to see the optometrist and get my eyes checked out, and get some new ones. And maybe some contacts, too – I’ve never had them, but they would sure be nice when skiing or riding my bike in the rain, so that I don’t have to worry about the glasses fogging. Still not sure about the whole Lasik thing, though.

  36. Greg says:

    “Oh, folks appeared as walking skeletons, sure, but otherwise no problem”

    Reminds me of this little gem: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096256/

    Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Roddy Piper. Hou can you lose?

  37. Roger Ritter says:

    In the BleatPlus, I notice the statement on the label for the Armour’s Pork & Beans, “The meat contained herein has been inspected and passed at an establishment where federal inspection is maintained.” That, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that the federal inspector was the one who inspected it. Just that he has a job somewhere on the property. I wonder how many people were actually reassured by that label…

  38. benjammin says:

    My wife recently went in for an eye exam because we moved to a new area and needed to get re-examined for a new prescription… The prescription they wrote was weaker than her previous prescription, and when the new contacts came in she found that everything was blurrier, harder to read road-signs and such. She went back and told them just to give her her old prescription, and they were kind enough to exchange them for free.

    Proof that the art (not science) of eye exams is somewhat subjective… But how could it not be? If they’re basing your prescription on “which one is better, A or B?” and they both look the same, there will be some inevitable inaccuracy.

    Also makes me wonder why they even needed to do a re-exam if they just ended up going with her old prescription despite their findings. Seems like they just wanted an excuse to get more money.

  39. Holly Linden says:

    Hello Sir, I’m an optician / buyer, and got the biggest kick out of this post! Your writing is delightfully clever, and I thank you for it.

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