Article Date: 12/1/2002

lessons learned
A Rare Prayer

Never underestimate the importance of well-fitted glasses.
Jack Runninger, O.D.

My glasses need adjusting," said the patient. "What seems to be wrong?" asked the inexperienced optician.

"For one thing, they're crooked. One lens sits a lot higher."

So the optician worked on the glasses for awhile, but when he put them back on the patient, they were still just as crooked. However, he was a quick-thinking young man, so he handed the patient a mirror and said, "I don't seem to be able to get them straight. But if you look in the mirror, you'll notice that if you just cock your head way to the side, it makes the glasses look straight."

"But I have another problem. The glasses slide down my nose."

Again the inept optician tried to rectify the problem without success.

"If you'll also throw your head way back, you'll note that the glasses no longer have a tendency to slide down," he told him.


As the patient walked out through the reception area, two little old ladies watched him walk by with his head severely twisted to the side and back.

"Look at that poor deformed man," whispered one of them.

"Yes, but don't his glasses fit him nice!" exclaimed the other.

The awful truth

Unfortunately, it's seldom possible to bluff patients into thinking their glasses fit even when they don't. Unglamourous as it may seem, proper design, fitting, and adjustment of patients' glasses are important keys to your success.

"These glasses just don't work!" the choir director at my church told me after having been fitted with progressive addition lenses. "I have to drop my head to see clearly in the distance, and I don't have a sufficiently wide breadth of vision to cover the whole musical score when I'm conducting."

"Go back to where you obtained the glasses and tell them to widen the nosepads to drop the lenses lower and closer to your eyes, and also to give them more pantascopic angle," I advised him. "This will also help place the lenses closer to your eyes to give you more width of vision. It's the 'keyhole principle'-- the closer your eye to a keyhole, the larger your field of vision."


I'll admit that this guy, being the son of a Baptist minister, tends to get carried away when he prays at the close of choir practice. Even so, I had to be impressed that he was so delighted with the solution to his problem after he had these adjustments made, that during his prayer, he fervently exclaimed, "Lord, thank you for sending us people who know how to adjust glasses!"

Years ago, I built much of my practice on patients who had left ophthalmologists' practices because of how they and their staff had screwed up on the design, fitting, and adjusting of glasses. For example:

"I told Dr. Perry Dectomy that the new glasses I got from him hurt my ears," a new patient told me. "He replied, 'I'm a doctor. I don't fool with glasses.' He hadn't minded fooling with glasses when he charged me a bunch for them! I was so infuriated, I'll never go back to him again!"

A changing scene

However, if we're not careful, optometrists are going to lose this advantage. More and more ophthalmologists are hiring skilled opticians to make sure their patients have specs that fit.



Optometric Management, Issue: December 2002