THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
An Rx Recheck Mystery
A story of two sisters who shared too much.
TERESA RUNTE, A.B.O.C.
When you come down to it, a prescription recheck requires a good measure of sleuthing on the part of both the optometrist and the optician. Sherlock Holmes himself would have appreciated the case of Clarice and Elsie.
Clarice, her husband Alfie and her sister Elsie were long-time patients at our office. One day Clarice came in, accompanied by Elsie (a retired school teacher) and son Wayne (a sophisticated restaurant critic from San Francisco who flew back to Wisconsin several times a year to help his parents). Clarice herself was a retired teacher and had been experiencing some health problems.
"I think she may have had another mini-stroke," whispered Wayne. "She says her vision is bad again."
"How are you seeing, Clarice," I asked, trying to get more specific information for my doctor.
"Everything is sort of blurry," she answered.
"How was it when you got your new glasses earlier this year?"
"Clear. Everything was clear."
"See what I mean," Wayne asked.
PHOTO BY PAT SIMIONE
I nodded, took Clarice's blue-and-silver glasses and went to the optical department to find her prescription card. Then I took a lensometer reading on the lenses. What I saw was what I had dreaded: They weren't reading at all what the doctor had prescribed.
"Wow, Mollie," I said to my coworker. "We sure goofed on this one."
"That's way off." She shook her head as she looked at the readout. "How did that get past us?"
Cracking the case
"Wait a minute . . .," I said. A 10,000-watt light bulb suddenly glowed over my head. I dug in the filing cabinet for Elsie's prescription card, glanced at the information on both cards and ran back to the waiting room.
"Elsie," I said, "can I see your glasses?"
"Sure." She handed over her blue-and-silver frames.
"So how long have you two been wearing each other's glasses," I asked.
Clarice and Elsie were wide-eyed.
"Oh, ho!! This is unbelievable," Wayne laughed. "You two share everything!"
"Your frames are both blue and silver," I explained, "but they're made by two different companies. That's what tipped me off."
"Well," a flustered Clarice finally spoke, "it must have been about six months ago." She looked at Elsie. "You were at our house. I think I put my glasses on the table."
"I must have put mine on the table too," Elsie laughed as she put on the correct pair of glasses. "This is much better!"
Clarice smiled. "I can see now."
"Just to be prudent," said Wayne, the ever-concerned son, "I think she still ought to see the doctor. Six months?!"
Fortunately, there was no change in Clarice's prescription and no internal ocular problems.
The story summed up their characters
Clarice died this past summer. At her funeral, the reverend relayed the delightful episode. The story, the reverend explained, illustrated not only how close the sisters were, but their good humor in one of life's quirky situations. Thank you, Clarice and Elsie, for a story that's continued to brighten many a day at this optometric office!
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENÉ
LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8132 OR LUTHER@BOUCHER1.COM.
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003