Article Date: 6/1/2008

Wanted: Long-term Relationship
Patient's Perspective

Wanted: Long-term Relationship

Must be a family optometrist, comfortable serving all ages with changing needs. Sense of humor helps.

By Lee M. Pierce as told to Erin Murphy, contributing editor

MY FAMILY OF FIVE is a diverse bunch. There's the age range, for one thing, with my husband, Mike (53), me (43), and our kids Allison (14), Matthew (11) and Olivia (2). My husband and I have reached the age where we need reading eyeglasses. We have kids who are involved in sports and lots of typical childhood mayhem. But our optometrist can handle all of us.

My husband initially went in for glaucoma testing, but the doctor really made an impression on the kids when Matt needed an eye exam.

Test Fails, Joke Succeeds

The note from the school nurse said my then-8-year-old son Matt had failed his vision screening. He had tested 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other, so it was time for him to see an optometrist.

While I stayed home with the baby, my husband took Matt to see the doctor. As the household authority on fashion and the decision-maker about virtually all things related to our children's appearance, I gave Mike one simple instruction: If Matt needs eyeglasses, I will pick them out. Do not pick them without me.

An hour later, Matt walked in the door wearing a pair of dreadful, heavy, dark-rimmed spectacles, apparently taken straight off the face of Charles Nelson Reilly.

Stifling a horrified gasp, I smiled and asked, "How'd it go?"

Matt explained that the doctor found the problem with his eyes. "Do you like my eyeglasses?" he asked.

Matt's Perspective
I was worried. I didn't want to wear eyeglasses because a 'fro and eyeglasses don't really mix. When I went to the doctor, he said my eyes were fine, but he gave me these old frames and helped me play a great trick on my Mom.

"Yes — they look very nice." I tried to cover my shock and distress at seeing his adorable face in those hideous frames. Meanwhile, I waited impatiently for an opportunity to strangle his father.

After 10 minutes or so, just as my acting skills were failing and my fake smile was beginning to fade, Matt grinned at me, reached up and hooked his fingers through the empty frames.

Apparently, Mike told the doctor about my instructions. And when the doctor discovered the school test was wrong — Matt's eyes were 20/20 — he gave Matt an old pair of eyeglasses and told him, "Wear these home and scare your mom." Matt loved playing the joke (and replaying it at school the next day), and the exam and eyeglasses he'd been worried about turned out to be a lot of fun.

Not All Fun and Games

My husband never had vision problems, but he began seeing an optometrist because he was concerned about a family history of glaucoma. The doctor explained that being black increases his risk as well. Since Mike is considered high risk, he sees the doctor once a year to keep close tabs on his eye health. We both need reading eyeglasses. Mike has prescription lenses, but the doctor said I can buy readers at the drugstore.

Our O.D. is practical, flexible and fun, and that's what makes him perfect for my family and me. nOD

Editor's note: Periodically, new O.D. will explore eye care from the patient's perspective. Whether you have a special interest in contact lenses, low vision or pediatric care, you'll find out from real patients what attracts them to a practice and keeps them coming back.

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2008