Eyes Wide Open

About to check my field of vision, the ophthalmological technician, dressed in tall Frye boots, leggings, and a stylish, geometric-patterned sweater, spoke in a calm voice: “I’m going to tape your eyes open. I’ll be gentle,” she said as she stretched each eyelid to an unnatural height and positioned my chin on a cup, leaving me staring into a white, moon-like orb.

Even though the image of Svengali, whose pupil-less eye sockets terrorized me as a child, invaded my consciousness, I didn’t squirm and I followed the technician’s instructions to squeeze a button whenever I  saw flashing lights in that strange capsule into which my head was thrust. The lights were star-like bursts, some up, some down, some in the middle.

Fifteen minutes later, she rewarded me with “Good job,” and a little aside: “Men can be such babies, especially those old guys whose eyebrows get all bushy. They’re the worst.” Then, she guided me through a labyrinth of small offices to one where I was instructed to wait for the ophthalmologist/specialist who would see if my orb-staring results qualified me for blepharoplasty and ptosis repair.

Definition to come––it’s  something to do with one of the cosmetic miseries of aging.

I ended up waiting for twenty minutes, plenty of time to scrutinize the office where I saw…

Pamphlets,  like “Granulated Eyelids––what it is, how to treat it at home.” [Why, I wondered were eyelids an “it.”] And the alliterative “Flashers and Floaters–what they are, when to call your doctor.”

...Eyeball charts with words like carnucle, lacrimal puctum or bublar conjunctive which made me wonder why some words (eyebrow, eyelid) on the chart were unworthy of Latinate designations. My favorite terms were inferior meatus and turbinate. Sounded like a slab of sirloin ready to season up for the barbecue.

and mysterious machines that I had time to explore via Google, right then and after the appointment.  I began to wonder: when my regular eye doctor gets his new office next year, will he enter “ophthalmology equipment,” click on Dogpile.com and be beguiled by the money-saving ad “get a phoropter for only $799”? Will he check out the “Opthalmology Synergetics Instrument Kit” whose price is unlisted but is likely expensive?

Retinal cameras, bimodular indirect ophthalmoscopes, manual keratometers, tonometers––I learned about all of them. I don’t like words that have to do with sharp objects around eyes, so when I got to Slit Lamp, I was glad for an interruption: the doctor slid onto a stool to tell me in complicated language that meant: your eyelids aren’t droopy enough. Insurance is unlikely to pay. She’d submit it anyway, just in case. “However,” she said, “the surgery could be done privately in my office for $5500.”

No thanks. I don’t want to pay for blepharoplasty (plastic surgery on the eyelid to remove fatty or excess tissue, aka ptosis).

When I have my next regular eye exam, which also includes chin placement on sophisticated equipment,  and I need a stronger prescription, perhaps I will purchase glasses as a droopiness distraction and cultivate a different image. Tortoiseshell, maybe, as long as they’re not made from the shell of real Hawksbill turtles as they were in the 1920s.  Online, I saw one pair called “Brain Trust” and another hornrimmed variety designed for the “hipster-geeky look.”

Yeah. That’s me alright. A hipster-geeky septuagenarian. At least I don’t have Svengali eyes.








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