Article Date: 6/1/2006

reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
The Trickster
This O.D. convinced patients the eye really is the window to the soul.
BY L. WOODROW STORY, JR., O.D.

I believe in humor to reduce patient stress. To give you an idea, the 20/20 row of my chart is "T, Z, V, E, C, L," and I ask patients if they know what it would be if they missed the last letter. "Christmas (pause) because it's no L." Okay, goofy humor, but my patients seem to appreciate it. Let me tell you about something that occurred in my office some years back...

The set up

Two young women were seated in the waiting room. Gloria (not her real name), the patient, had brought a friend with her. They were talking as they waited for her appointment. I'm not really nosy, but I was in an adjoining room preparing for the next patient, so I couldn't help but hear their conversation.

It seems that Gloria had a date the previous night with a new boyfriend. To hear her talk, he was a Greek god: tall, muscular, blond hair and blue eyes. She told her friend that he'd picked her up in his red sports car. They went to dinner at an Italian restaurant and each had the spaghetti. He then took her to see the new "Star Wars" movie. Afterward, they drove to a secluded place and...

Too good to resist

By now the exam room was ready and I called Gloria back. I let her bring her friend back also, as she had never had an eye examination and was quite interested. When I picked up my ophthalmoscope, her friend asked what it was. Seeing a chance to educate, I explained that it was a tool I used to look within the eye. I told her that the first set of lenses let me examine the cornea, then by changing lenses I could see deeper into the eye, through the lens and all the way back to the retina. I explained that the retina had visual receptors that transferred information to the brain.

"But what do you see on the back of the eye?" she asked. Now, my family has a reputation for teasing and all of a sudden the "tease gene" kicked in. "I can see lots of things. Let's see; the eye is clear all the way to the back and the blood vessels look good. The optic nerve has good color." Then I paused for effect. "Gloria, have you been thinking about a young man? Tall, muscular? Brown, no, no, blue eyes? Did you have a date last night?"

"Yes!" Gloria was impressed. 

"I see a red car, a sports car?"

Gloria nodded in agreement. The friend was impressed.

"Okay, I see a restaurant — Mexican? No. I see spaghetti, an Italian restaurant?"

Gloria nodded and the friend was really impressed.

"Ah, I see a movie ... hmmm! Science fiction, space. 'Star Wars!'" I exclaimed.

You know how when someone gets your attention, your posture gets better? Well, Gloria was sitting ramrod straight. I'd reached the part of the date where she preferred that her eye doctor see no more. And judging from the expression on the other woman's face, she was never getting an eye exam!

Maybe a little too convincing?

I know when to quit. Otherwise, I was sure that both women would have both bolted from the office. I "fessed up" and explained my cognitive abilities. We all laughed. But you know, I never did see her friend as a patient.

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@LWWVISIONCARE.COM.COM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.



Optometric Management, Issue: June 2006