Article Date: 8/1/2004

lessons learned
More Favorites
A continuation of memorable patient encounters.
By Jack Runniger, O.D.

Is this better or worse?" an optometrist asked a lady who spoke broken English, as he made a lens change in the phoropter.

"If dot's better, I'd hate to see vot's voise!" was her response.

You may remember that last month's epistle concerned my favorite humorous office episodes, such as the one above. Continuing this theme:

► "What is the oddest reason you've ever heard from patients about how they lost their glasses or contact lenses?" we asked in an Optometric Management survey a few years ago. I still get tickled when I think of the winning entry:

"Here at Dr. McCormick's Vision Center in Austin, Texas," wrote optometric assistant Brigitte Kelly, "our favorite contact lens patient is Mr. Smiley, a man in his 60s.

"One day, he reported that his last pair only lasted one day. He said he was in a romantic mood and wanted to spend the night with his lady love. So he purposely swallowed his lenses and told her he'd have to spend the night with her because he couldn't see well enough to drive home."



► An Oregon optometrist related that a lady patient once told him that her glasses were badly bent.

"How did it happen?" he asked her.

"My boyfriend sat on them."

"If you had been wearing them like you're supposed to, it wouldn't have happened."

"But I was wearing them!"


Then we have the patient responses that are "gotcha's":

► "You really helped my dry eye condition," a patient told me.

"I'm glad the drops helped so much," I replied.

"Oh, it wasn't the drops," he replied. "It was your bill. You charged me so much it brought tears to my eyes."

► "I can't play golf while I'm wearing these contact lenses," a patient who was a golfing compatriot once told me.

"Nonsense," I replied. "Gil Morgan is one of the top golfers on the PGA tour, and he wears contact lenses."

"Yeah," he said. "But you didn't prescribe and fit his!"

► "How is your health," I asked an elderly lady patient.

"I have AIDS," she replied.

"What?!!" I asked incredulously.

"One in each ear," she continued, pointing to a hearing aid in each ear while laughing boisterously at how she "got" me.

It should have happened

And then we have the incidents that probably never happened, but are good stories nevertheless:

► Desperately trying to make decisions during his exam, another patient told me the story of an optometrist visiting a terminally ill patient in the hospital.

"Before I die, there's one thing I have to know. Which really was better, number one or number two?"

► You may remember the reports that smoking marijuana can help lower glaucoma pressure.

"Are there any eye diseases in your family?" asked the O.D. during the case history.

"My grandmother has glaucoma."

"Is she being treated?"

"She's smoking marijuana."

"Is it helping?"

"Yes and no. She can't see any better, but now she doesn't give a damn."

► Which reminds me of the patient of mine who had trouble remembering the word "glaucoma."

"Do you test for guacamole?" he asked.

Jack Runniger, our consulting editor, lives in Rome, GA.  He's also a past editor of OM. Contact him at


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2004