Article Date: 1/1/2009

Practices Can Drive You Nuts
lessons learned

Practices Can Drive You Nuts

Tales of the office — from dirty glasses to dirty pictures.


Continuing the saga of odd-ball things that occur in optometric practices, one of the strangest and funniest comes from Dr. John Muellerleile, Owatonna, Minn.:

"When I was first in practice some 39 years ago, I was asked to do a vision screening for each youth in a firearms safety program.

"My employer had just purchased a stereoscopic 3-D projector. Since I had time on my hands, it fell to me to unpack the instrument and do the setup. I had just plugged it in, when 12 year old Randy was ushered into the room for his ‘Firearm Safety Vision Screening.’

"I decided this was a great opportunity to test the new instrument by using it, rather than the stereo-fly, to test his stereopsis. So after we had both donned our 3-D glasses, I projected the first slide onto the screen. A life sized image of a beautiful girl appeared to be standing about five feet into the room. Unfortunately she was completely naked!


"The next day the office was flooded with young boys who wanted to participate in the screening."

Me too

► Back when I was in practice, I also had a peculiar incident. (True story, honest.) A patient came back after four weeks with his new specs. "My new glasses were good at first, but my vision has been gradually getting worse ever since," he said. When I inspected them, the lenses were incredibly dirty.

I cleaned them and then returned them to the gentleman.

"Yeah, that's great! I can see good again," he said.

"What did you do?"

► I also often found, as have you, that Jackson cross cylinder testing creates some odd responses. "I am going to show you these letters through two different lenses," I would tell a patient. "Both of them will be blurred, but I want you to tell me which is better of the two. Again both are bad, but which is better number one (flip) or number two (flip)."

"Gee, neither one is very good," would be the answer I too often received.

Other responses

► I got other nutty cross cylinder test reactions as well. I always felt like committing mayhem, when I'd ask, "Which is better, number seven, or number eight?" and the patient would respond, "I think number three was better than either one of them."

► Another O.D. told me of a foreign born lady who responded to that question, "If dot's better, I'd hate to see vot's voise!"

► Another thing I used to hate was when I either got too much or too little response when taking a case history. "Do you have any health problems?" I ask Mr. Stoic.

"Nope," he replies.

Following the exam, Mrs. Stoic asks me, "Did my husband tell you about his skull fracture last month, and his dangerously high blood pressure?"

At the other extreme is Mrs. Gabble. "How is your health?" I'd ask her.

"Well, I did have a little cold a week ago Monday. Or was it Tuesday? No, I remember now it was Wednesday, because…" ad infinitum.

"Sometimes, I wish I practiced veterinary medicine instead of optometry," I told another optometrist one day when there seemed to be an abundance of these miscommunication problems. "Then I wouldn't have to ask patients any questions."

"Yeah," he replied. "But at least our patients don't bite." OM


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2009