There has been a recent development regarding my eyesight which I found quite disturbing: it’s getting better. I was very concerned about that, because it goes against a trend that has been occurring ever since I started to get old, which was some time after the 3rd grade, which is that everything else is getting worse. My knees are knotty, my back is balky, my shoulder is shaky and I thought any troubles with my backside were behind me. Even my tennis serve is getting worse, and I’m thinking about taking it in for an MRI. Also, I sometimes feel like I’m losing that thing that helps you remember stuff, I forget what it’s called. 

I used to be quite near-sighted. Before I was married, I was seeing a girl when I was in college, at least I thought I was. It turns out I wasn’t, and that’s when I got glasses. The glasses I wore corrected for near-sightedness and astigmatism, but I had to take them off to read clearly. Bifocals were uncomfortable, because they can’t remove the astigmatism correction from the bottom of the lens where I would read from. So I used to wear my glasses cocked to the side up on the bridge of my nose, so I could see below them when I was looking at something close, and see far away if I looked up. This caused people to believe that my face was attached to my head at the wrong angle. When I was talking to someone close up, my glasses were pointing over their right shoulder, and sometimes they would turn around to see what my glasses found so interesting. I was surprised that nobody else wore their glasses like that, but nobody else seemed to be.

And now people who are near and dear to me are blurrier than people who are far and dear to me. So I went to the eye doctor, but which one should you go to? An optometrist has to go to college, then after four more years of school get a degree in optometry. He or she can test your eyes, check their general health and prescribe glasses. If there’s a sty in my eye, you should see my office. Whereas an ophthalmologist goes to medical school, then has an internship, a residency, possibly a fellowship and maybe a friendship. He or she can diagnose and treat medical conditions related to the eyes. Whereas an optician does not test the eyes, but simply fills the eyeglass prescriptions from the optometrist. Whereas an optimist can find the good in me having to have a pair of glasses literally in every room.

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It turns out it’s been years since I went to the ophthalmologist. That’s because I used to take the eye test at the Department of Motor Vehicles when I renewed my license, and leave it at that. But with the advent of self-driving cars, pretty soon it will be necessary only to be able to see where your car is long enough for you to get in it. 

The ophthalmologist said he hasn’t seen me in quite some time and I told him maybe he’s the one who needs the glasses. He looked up at the ceiling and said something that I couldn’t really hear, so maybe I’ll get my hearing checked out also. He had a machine blow this hard poof of air right into my eye, which startled me and I almost hit my head on the top of the machine. He says it’s to test for glaucoma, but I think it’s payback for all the times I blew in my dog’s face. I’m not the only one who’s done it either, so don’t try to make me out as the bad guy. I know you’ve been doing it too, and if you have, stop blowing in my dog’s face. But I AM probably the only one who told my dog that I was checking for glaucoma. She doesn’t have it, by the way, I tested yesterday.

Then he shines this incredibly bright light into my eye, apparently trying to peer into my soul. I told him my mother said I shouldn’t look directly into a bright light, and he told me he wasn’t my mother. He also said I should see a specialist about my soul. 

He said put on the eye patch and take a look at the chart. He’s probably never heard my pirate accent before so I told him a quick pirate joke, which went over like a lead doubloon. He told me to just say the last line, and I thought he meant the last line of the joke, which went over like another lead doubloon. He meant the eye chart, which I could only read if I squinted. It said in really small letters D  O  N  T  S  Q  U  I  N  T.

If you’re getting new eyeglasses, you have to look through this contraption that has a million lenses attached to it, and try to see the eye chart on the wall. The optometrist flips back and forth between the lenses to narrow it down to the best combination. He says “better or worse” after he flips each lens, and you let him know things are going. It dawned on me that this might not be a bad way to pick the Democratic presidential candidate. Here’s Amy Klobuchar, here’s Kirsten Gillibrand, better or worse, better, worse? And you say, I can’t really tell, maybe the first one? It’s true that only your optometrist really loves you for better or worse. 

But I just wanted a contact lens that would let you see close up. My idea was to put it in my left eye and let that one do any reading, and let my right eye see far away, if it wants to. The eye doctor looked at me like it was the dumbest thing he ever heard, but then he gave me the contact lenses and told me it wasn’t the dumbest thing he ever heard. So the bottom line is that this technique works okay as a compromise if you don’t want to keep looking for your glasses all the time if you’re out at a restaurant. Now I just have to try to remember where I put my contact lens instead of my glasses. I finally understand what Francis Scott Key was talking about when he wrote the poem that became the Star Spangled Banner. O say, can you see by the dawn’s early light? Not really, and I can’t find my glasses, so I’m going back to bed until dawn’s later light. 

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