Article Date: 4/1/2008

Things That Time Hasn't Changed
lessons learned

Things That Time Hasn't Changed

With all our advances, strange things still happen in our offices.

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

"I found that too often patients tended to confuse the ‘which is better, number 1 or number 2’ with a previous 1 or 2," I heard the late Dr. Ralph Wick say during an Academy lecture about 50 years ago. "Thus, instead I use the numbers sequentially, ‘which is better 3 or 4,’ and so on.

"Early one morning, I received a phone call at home from an indecisive patient whom I had examined the day before. ‘Dr. Wick,’ she said, ‘Yesterday, I told you that 17 was better than 18. I worried all night, and I have decided that 18 may have been a little better than 17.’"

Strange things still happen in optometric offices today.

The boisterous child

"Recently I examined a very boisterous 18-month-old infant," Dr. Jim Stewart, Duluth, Ga., told me. "After dilating him, I tried to do loose lens retinoscopy as he fought for all he was worth.

"The mother held him in the exam chair, and tried desperately to help by closing her legs against his legs to keep him from kicking me. However, every few moments he would break loose and kick me anyway. Finally, after seven or eight kicks, I said to the mother, ‘If you would hold your legs tightly together, this would not happen.’ What I meant, of course, was the kicking. But I could see immediately by the look on her face that she thought what I meant was as a method of preventing conception.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

Tablets didn't help

"Many years ago a patient complained that her contact lenses didn't feel any cleaner after taking an enzyme tablet," came from Dr. Michael Silverman, Coral Springs, Fla. "‘What do you mean, taking?’ I asked. She replied, ‘I’ve been eating one of these every day, but they don't seem to help.'

"Another patient told me of her unsuccessful experience in disinfecting her lenses. She was in a hurry so rather than use her heat disinfection unit (remember those?), which took 45 minutes, she instead put her lenses in their case in the microwave for 60 seconds. It exploded and deposited bits of contact lenses all over the interior of the microwave."

"I learned the hard way to screen any reading material I give to patients in testing their near acuity," reports Dr. Steve Keith, Woodstock, GA. "In checking the reading acuity of a 45 year old single vision contact lens patient, I handed her a magazine, and asked if she could easily read a section I randomly pointed out.

"I turned a bit red, as she read, ‘New from Tampax, a gentle glide applicator.’"

Mixed-up words

Many more O.D.'s have reported examples of patients misunderstanding or mispronunciation of medical and optometric terms:

Dr. Kevin Wulff, Rochester, Minn. — "I've had a number of patients tell me that they didn't want their eyes ‘diluted.’"

Dr. Barbara Reiss, Huntington, N.Y. — "A patient told us she had ‘alpipsia.’ When we found Dilantin listed as one of her medications, we finally figured out that ‘alpipsia’ was ‘epilepsy.’"

Dr. Chad Peterson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa — "As I made a lens change in the photopter, a patient told me it made his vision ‘crispier.’ Not crisper, but ‘crispier’, like in fried chicken."

Dr. Len Press, Fair Lawn, N.J. — "I had a patient tell me, ‘One of the doctors said I might have immaculate edema.’" OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2008