Article Date: 1/1/2008

Patients Say the Darndest Things
lesson learned

Patients Say the Darndest Things

And this maxim holds true whether the patient is seven or 97 years old.


"I used to tell patients to look right through my head at the big E while I was doing ophthalmoscopy," says Dr. Diana Carriger of Topeka, Kansas. "Until one little boy told me he couldn't because my head was too thick."

You've probably noticed that many of the strange and humorous episodes that happen in your office involve kids, such as the one above.

► "My husband, also an O.D.," continued Dr. Carriger, "sometimes tells patients during his ophthalmoscopic exam that he's going to look back through their eyes to their brains. Another little boy pulled back, and said, ‘I’ve got a lot of private stuff in there!"

The test worked

► "When I examined an 11-year-old patient," emails Dr. Cory Bosanko, Crossville, Tenn., "I discovered his best acuity in one eye was 20/400 due to his having been shot in that eye three years previous with a B.B gun. I had a detailed discussion with the patient and his mother about the importance of his wearing the polycarbonate lenses I prescribed as a protective mechanism to his other eye.

"As soon as he got his new glasses with the polycarbonate lenses, he went home, put on the glasses, took his B.B. gun out, pointed it as his good eye and fired. He then took his glasses to his mother and said, ‘Look Ma … the doctor was right. These glasses didn't shatter.’"

► "A seven-year-old boy came in for an exam," reports Dr. Walter Drill, Lansdale, Pa. "I instructed him to read the letters on the chart, which he did. When I moved the phoropter into position to see if his eyes were properly aligned in it, he reported, ‘Big head, no letters.’"


Not only kids

But it's not only kids who misunderstand things.

► "The following are verbatim from the health history form we ask all our patients to fill out," writes Dr. Doug Posner, Fall River, Mass.

"One patient had his ‘glad bladder’ removed, another his ‘gold bladder.’ Another had a ‘poshal lung removed (they didn't remove all of it). Another had a ‘guard ripple bypass’ done (quadruple bypass). Another had a ‘closed seduction on the right arm.’ (I still haven't figured that one out.) Another had to go back to work, so he didn't want his eyes ‘deleted.’

► "In addition to the written goofs, another patient told me he realized that in resisting reading glasses, he was only putting off the ‘inedible.’ And another boasted of her ‘good perennial vision.’"

Eye berries?

► "I had a patient who claimed she had berries in her eyes," Dr. Steve Van Dyke, Bemidji, Minn., tells me. "She insisted that the last doctor had told her this. I kiddingly asked her what kind of berries they were. During exam, I found she had optic nerve drusen, and had apparently been told she had buried drusen.

"When I told her of the drusen, the patient excitedly exclaimed, ‘Yeah, that's what they were, drusen berries.’"


I do thank all of you who have e-mailed their humorous office experiences, to share with fellow O.D.'s. The practice of optometry can be much more pleasant if we enjoy some of the strange things that happen to us. If anyone else has had such experiences they're willing to share, please email them to me at the address below. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2008