Eyeing the Charts

It feels like I have a huge test hanging over my head every time I think about my annual eye exam. I begin the countdown by avoiding my reading glasses thus making typos in all of my writing projects. Then I strengthen my eyes by bringing the newspaper close to my face until I am cross-eyed, touch my nose and then slowly draw it back to strain my eyes into seeing the small type, causing huge furrows in my forehead that could hold a pencil.

Last year, I began experiencing an eye problem which compounded my nervousness in anticipation of the appointment. When I entered the ophthalmologist’s examining room I relaxed a little when I could read the letters and a couple of numbers projected on the wall. “I am going to ace it this year!” I said to myself. I tried to memorize the lowest line as we chatted and then she turned down the lights. You would think I could see the eye chart better that way, but the contrast somehow disappeared and my astigmatism raised its ugly head.

After flunking out with one eye, she moved on to the next. By now, I squinted while sweating bullets. “E A H K O P Z.” As I said the last letter, my hearts sank. “There is a number in there you fool!” I thought.

“Which letter do you see here?” She pointed to a blurred smudge on the wall.

I began guessing.









She sighed, made copious notes and then said, “Let’s move on.”

I rested my forehead on a machine to test for glaucoma. I kept closing my eyes knowing that a nasty puff of air would soon hit each cornea in a shock wave that nearly knocked me off my chair.

“Sit over here please.”

I did as I was told and looked through the humongous googoo-goggles which look like a metal owl mask and she began flipping through a hundred lenses to find just the right correction.

“Do you see more clearly at 1 (flip) or 2?” (flip)

“Um, I don’t know.

“1”(flip) or 2?” (flip).

“Um, I guess this one. Wait! No! Go back.”

“1” (flip) or 2?” (flip).

“I have no idea. Um 1. Wait! Is it better if the lines are thicker or thinner?

“It is up to the individual.” *

“Okay do it again.”

She took a deep breath and went through this process about 350 times. Then just like a professional Las Vegas dealer shuffling cards, she slipped the lenses into place.  “Now what is the lowest line you can read?”

“I can read the type on the bottom of the eye chart. Copyright 673AF.’”

“Very good.”

I heaved a big sigh of relief knowing that I was almost finished.

“Here is your new prescription.” She handed me a sheet of paper written in mumbo jumbo.  Do you have any questions or concerns?

“Well, I have been waking up with a dry eye.”

“Oh no!” she said as my stomach clenched. “Just one you say?”

“Yep just one.” That must be better than both eyes I thought to myself Oh please don’t let it be some kind of eye disease. My mother has glaucoma and it is awful to live with.

“Is that bad? What does it mean doctor?” My mind raced as she began to explain.

“You probably sleep with both eyes open, but there is less water content in one of them and that is why you are only feeling one dry eye.”

“My eyes open? Me? No, but my daughter sleeps with both eyes open. Well, not like wide open, but you can see that they aren’t shut all the way.” And I chuckled a bit feeling somewhat relieved.

“It is known to be hereditary, so she got it from you.”

“Oh come on now. That can’t be. How could no one have noticed that I was sleeping with my eyes open all these years.”

“I have no idea, but it can be very bad for your eyes and it can make you more susceptible to eye disease. There is only one thing you can do.”

“I’ll do anything, it’s so uncomfortable.”

“You’re going to have to tape it shut.”

“What? No way! I have been married for almost 25 years and already wear upper and lower retainers to bed at night. I can’t do that to my husband! Can you imagine? ‘Hi honey I’m ready for bed.’” I closed one eye and bared my teeth for effect. She wasn’t amused.

That night I taped my left eye shut. My husband didn’t say much, but he didn’t have to.

The next morning I found a couple of fine eyelashes in the tape and said, “Screw this!”
I turned off the ceiling fan and filled the humidifier. The problem went away in a couple of weeks along with using some rewetting eye drops.

But I wondered if there could be a benefit to sleeping with one eye open…


Which annual exam do you dread?

Do you think it is creepy to sleep with your eyes open?

*My new eye doctor told me that it is better when the letters and numbers are thicker which made my eye exam a lot easier this year…

All photos by Wikipedia

90 thoughts on “Eyeing the Charts

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  1. lovely start to my day and week Susie. I’ve never thought about preparing for an eye exam. too funny. I hate the part of choosing which helps my vision the most (this or (flip) this). I can never tell.


  2. Eye tests, ayeee! I’m on the bifocal bandwagon, and actually like them, but I’m weird. These are frameless, so they are ultralight.

    I have a dry eye issue (and don’t believe I sleep with eyes open) impacted by the dry of heating season, so I keep a bottle of Sensitive Eyes saline solution (12 ounces) on the nightstand, and pour it in my eyes when they feel dry.

    Best wishes!


  3. thanks for this one today! had to chuckle, because I sleep with night guards and hubby with air mask. At times I have to wear splints on my arms. So I totally feel the pain with taping your eye shut. And I don’t like going to the eye doc either, due to stigmatism… those silly owl glasses always fog up and you are never sure which one is better, flip back an for.
    Happy you got your dry eye resolved!


    1. Hahaha! Great comment! Our bodies do become projects and maintenance can get more complicated as we get older! I don’t know that I could sleep with splints on my arms….Thanks for reading!


  4. Isn’t it amazing these days that we know more than our professional people?
    I still wear Walgreens bi-focals because of the cost.. but this had me smiling because it was reality at its finest.


  5. OMG I had to giggle at this. You described everything I HATE about going to the eye doctor. That constant “which is better, 1 or 2” drives me up the freaking wall. I always respond with I don’t know, you pick! Interesting about the dry eye and a humidifier. I have dry eyes…maybe I should try your solution!


  6. Okay you totally have me cracking up here at work!!! The way you wrote it and your reactions were funny (although I am sorry you had to go through it!) lol. Great job writing out the event. I’ll have to share this with my coworkers. 🙂


  7. Loved your post about eye exams! I am like you–hate them and always feel bad when I fail…guess we are just over-achieves and want to be good at everything we do. I have to book my apt this week and for sure will think of you when my turn comes to sit in the torture chair.
    You have a great way of telling a story and poking fun at yourself…that is difficult to do but you make it look easy. Congrats!


  8. I fear the eye examine. That’s interesting about sleeping with the eyes partially open though. Both my kids do it. I don’t think my husband does and I didn’t think I did. No one has ever mentioned it to me. Now I wonder. Hmm I can’t believe you taped your eye shut. LOL – Susie.


  9. Oh Man I blinked and squinted my eyes ..reading about the eye tests were discomforting…no one could ever put eye drops in my eye.
    sleeping with eyes open and taping them..oh my God Susie didnt it hurt when you took the tapes out..I mean i have no idea what kind of tapes they are but they sound painful..was it??
    Thank God you are ok now
    take care
    hugs and love 🙂


  10. The eye doctor sounds like a meanie! Glad you found a way to help. Never heard of sleeping with eyes open. My wife is having Lasik surgery tomorrow…. Noooo way man.


    1. I had Lasik, but they messed it up when they did the mono-vision so I would have one eye for close up and one for distance. They corrected the wrong eye thinking I was right eye dominant. Now I wear one contact lens. That is sort of weird too. Oh well!
      Good luck to your wife tomorrow!


      1. Wow, glad it was resolved, could have been much worse considering the horror stories I’ve read about the surgery. Odds are that it’ll be fine though.


  11. I’m surprised your ophthalmologist still uses the air burst for glaucoma testing. Mine uses some kind of drops.

    I don’t really mind the eye doctor. My least favorite medical experience is when I have my annual physical and the doctor checks my prostate. I probably won’t get much sympathy from a bunch of women who have to have gynocological exams, though.


    1. Mine actually uses the pressure test along with a photo they take of the inside of my eye. He said that as long as my pressure stays low and the photo is normal they don’t have to do the drops. One less thing!!

      You are right. No sympathy from me! Hahaha!


  12. LOL! My husband was bugging me yesterday for the eye doc’s number. His cute little reading glasses are losing steam, I guess. So says I, who has a small collection of readers secreted all over the house. Funny, I have no issues with the dentist, but it’s like pulling teeth to get me to go to the eye doctor. Thanks for the reminder!


  13. This one made me laugh, great light-hearted take on what can certainly be a stressful day. That glaucoma test is NOT fun! Glad you’ve survived and now nothing to worry about for another year. 🙂


  14. I love it when you said “Hi honey, I’m ready for bed” 🙂 That made me laugh, the vision.

    I used to be in an orphanage & there was a girl there who slept with her eyes open. In the open dormitories, she always went to bed early and we’d have to creep past her to get to our bed. She was SCARY!! it’s great your eye doctor identified your problem, though – that’s great.

    Loved the video! 🙂


  15. Hi,
    Don’t you love it when they ask you to read the chart, and it is sort of blurry, guessing never works, I tried that as well. 🙂
    I wear glasses for reading and get my eyes tested every year, and every year it is the same. 😀


    1. That’s a good thing that your eyes never change. It is important to get the other eye tests so I guess we are stuck going every year anyway… Thanks for stopping in today Mags!


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