Article Date: 5/1/2011

Blow Out the Candle
lessons learned

Blow Out the Candle

No matter what vocation you have chosen, you can't escape complaints.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

Mrs. Donovan was walking down O'Connell Street when she met up with Father Flaherty.

“Top o' the mornin' to ye,” said the Father. “Aren't ye Mrs. Donovan, and didn't I marry ye and yer hoosband two years ago?”

“Aye, that ye did, Father.”

“And be there any wee little ones yet?”

“No, not yet, Father,”

“Well now, I'm going to Rome next week, and I'll light a candle for ye and yer hoosband.”

Some years later they met again.

“Well now, Mrs. Donovan, how are ye these days? Do you have any wee ones yet?”

“Oh, yes, Father! Two sets of twins, and four singles. And all in just six years.”

“That's wonderful! How is your hoosband?”

“'E's gone to Rome to blow out yer stupid candle!”

Not alone

Priests aren't the only ones with dissatisfied “customers.” Unfortunately, optometrists have them too.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Ben Milder co-authored the text, The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself (Triad 2004). As the title suggests, Dr. Milder has not only been a great scientist (he is now retired), he also has a delightful sense of humor. Throughout the book, he interspersed a number of funny poems to help make his points. One deals with complaints to refractionists:

By now you all know it's a fact:

There are machines that can refract.

That's progress, and it must be faced,

But you will never be replaced.

There are some things machines won't do;

Complaints will still come back to you!


I goofed

Some complainers are justified in their disgruntlement. Many years ago when I was new in practice, I examined an 83 year old gentleman. Following my prescribing new lenses for him, he wrote me a letter telling me I had sold him a pair of glasses that didn't help, and that I was obviously a crook. I had to admit after I restudied his case history, that he was justified in his gripe.

His complaint was that his reading vision had become somewhat blurred. During the examination, I had found that early cataract and consequent lens swelling had dropped his distance VA with glasses to 20/80. And that with reduction of plus in his Rx, I could give him 20/25. So that's what I prescribed. But I had ignored his chief reason for coming to see me, namely that he had not been able lately to read as well.

The real reason

“I just can't wear these new glasses,” complains Mrs. Fussbudget. “I can't see well with them, they give me a headache, they hurt my nose, and besides my husband doesn't like how I look in them.”

Which one of the complaints is the real one? Over many years of practice, I discovered it's almost always the last complaint mentioned by dissatisfied patients that is the one you need to solve.

One solution

“Is there any optometrist in this audience who can honestly say he has no unhappy patients?” asked a lecturer at an optometric meeting.

“I don't,” responded an elderly optometrist in the back row.

“Do you mean you don't have a single dissatisfied patient?” asked the speaker incredulously.

“Nope! I outlived ever' one of the idiots!” OM


Optometric Management, Issue: May 2011