Article Date: 1/1/2014

Lessons Learned
lessons learned

Which is Better, #1 or #2?

A simple question can often receive strange and unexpected answers.

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JACK RUNNINGER, O. D.

“I loved the story you wrote many years ago,” said Dr. B. J. Garner, Houston, Texas recently, “about the optometrist who went to visit a patient of his who was on his deathbed.

“There’s one thing I gotta know before I die,” the patient told him. “Which really was better, number one or number two?”

One thing I don’t miss in retirement is the too frequent scenario that went something like this:

“I’m going to show you these letters through two different lenses,” I would carefully instruct. “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?”

“Gee, neither one is very good,” was the all-to-often response.

Not just me

Remembering this, I e-mailed Georgia Optometric Association members to ask about their experiences with “#1 or #2” and discovered that strange answers are evidently pretty much universal in optometric clinical practice.

From Dr. Jeff Jeruss, Marietta, Ga.—“When a patient in her 60s returned for her yearly exam, she reminded me of the lengthy and difficult time we had had with her refraction the previous year. So I said to her as I was placing the phoropter, ‘Let’s just resume where we left off. Which is better, two thousand four hundred ninety one, or two thousand four hundred ninety two?’”

Dr. Herman Salmenson, Atlanta, Ga. —“To make things more interesting, I ask, ‘Which is better, 5985 or 3998?’ ”

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ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

Crispier?

Following are patient responses to the “1 or 2” question, and the source from whence they came:

“It’s better, but it’s not as good.” Dr. David Murnan, Macon, Ga.

“I liked the ones you showed me when we first started.” Dr. Nadine Forche, Athens, Ga.

“Which is better #1 or #2?” Patient’s reply, “Yes.” Dr. Don Spindel, Atlanta, GA.

“Better than what?” Unidentified O.D.

“Number 2 is crispier.” Dr. Nancy Barr, Peachtree City, Ga.

At times, patients who speak English as a second language and I have been challenged by our communication skills. One patient kept telling me the letters were better, even when I added more and more additional plus.

“Do you mean that every time I add a lens, it gets better?” I asked him in exasperation.

“No, no!” he exclaimed. “I keep telling you, it’s getting badder!”

Similarly, another optometrist told me of a patient who responded,” If dot’s better, I’d hate to see vot’s voise.”

Dr. Kristi Walts, Atlanta, Ga., tells of a patient whose English language skills were limited. When asked to read a line, he said, “I don’t know. It looks like Chinese to me.“

Dr. Katy Falk, Dublin, Ga. reports that during her residency in Miami, Fla., three of her co-residents experienced the same interchange with female patients. “They would answer the question with an emphatic ‘No!’ with their index finger wagging, occasionally adding, ‘No ve en nada’ (I see nothing) to emphasize that neither choice was satisfactory.” OM

(To be continued)

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, Volume: 49 , Issue: January 2014, page(s): 66