Wednesday, 13 July 2011

It's not called a test for nothing.

I’ve been wearing glasses on and off for pretty much all my life. I got my first pair of glasses when I was at school and my my were they funky. One red arm and one green arm, the top of the rims yellow and the bottom of the rims blue – so basically I looked like Timmy Mallet. When I hit pre-teen years I developed a sense of shame of these glasses and just stopped wearing them.

Things were fine up until my final year at uni, when a year of sitting in front of a computer screen and burying my nose in books resulted in some wicked painful headaches. Off to the optician I went and got me some glasses.

For the past 7 years they have remained my faithful friend but whereas before I could decided whether or not I felt like wearing them, I was increasingly finding that I needed to wear them to avoid squinting like Mr Magoo.

I kept meaning to book a test but just never really getting round to it. Meanwhile I can no longer see subtitles on the telly without my glasses – the latest craze of a character in a tv show getting a text message and having it appear on screen has caused me on several occasions to nearly break my neck running to press my nose up against the tv.

The final straw came one day when I was waiting for a bus to go to my Mum’s. A bus was coming towards me but I couldn’t for the life of me work out what number it was, in the end I had to ask the little old lady who was stood beside me what number bus was coming.

Time to book an appointment.

The other problem I have is that I have a bit of an eye phobia. It took me until I was in 6th form to learn to put mascara on and I was at uni before I could pluck up the courage to try eyeliner. Every summer was torture for me because summer would mean hayfever and hayfever would mean itchy eyes and itchy eyes would mean eyedrops. I remember well being held down by various members of my family whilst they tried to put eyedrops in my eyes – I’m pretty sure they never touched my eyeballs , I was crying too hard.

I don’t particularly like talking about eyes – I’m blinking furiously whilst I’m typing this by the way – and do not, under any circumstances either insert or take out or generally play around with your contact lenses in front of me. I will go very pale and feel very ill.

Although I’ve never had a bad experience at an optician, I still have an irrational fear that they’re going to do something horrific to my eyeballs so my heart was pounding when I turned up to my appointment a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that does this but I feel an extreme pressure when I go to get my eyes tested, I worry that I am going to fail this test in some way shape or form or I’m going to get told that I’m making it all up.

Like the test that they did to test my peripheral vision. This involves covering one eye and looking in a big computer screen. A number of dots flash up and you have to say how many dots have appeared. The trouble is these dots flash in extremely quick succession, it wasn’t that I couldn’t see how many there were, my brain just couldn’t tell me which number I was grasping for quickly enough. I was shouting increasingly louder, “ 4!!” By the time that test was over the sweat was dripping down my back.

I was the same inside the actual test. As he placed the lenses in front of me and asked me to say which was better or worse I began to be overcome with panic – wait was it better with number 1 or number 2? I couldn’t work it out, I think my eyes had just become completely glazed with terror.

But the worst was to come.

“Now what we’re going to do next is test the pressure in your eyes” said the lovely optician lady.

This immediately did not sound like something I was going to enjoy. And indeed it wasn’t – they perform this test by blowing three short sharp puffs of air into your eye. You have to place you head in something that looks uncannily like a vice and then sit there knowing that they’re going to blow something directly into your eyeball. Surely that goes against all of your natural instincts?

At one point during the test she asked me if I was ok, I replied yes and asked her why she’d asked me. “It’s just that your knuckles are white where you’re gripping on to the handles” she said. Clearly I suck at completely covering my fear. I wanted to tell her that she was lucky I was still there at all and not running screaming down the street.

The verdict is that my eyes have indeed got worse (although I passed the eye pressure test and field of vision test with flying colours. Go me). My right eye is actually in pretty good nick, only -0.25, whereas my left eye is in much worse condition, -1.50 (what is wrong with the left side of my body? Shorter leg, worse eye, the pulmonary embolism was in my left lung as well you know). I don’t have to wear my glasses all the time if I don’t want to but I think I’ll keep them to hand.

Next time there might not be an old lady to tell me which bus is coming.


  1. oh god, don't - I'm just the same. I've had these glasses since I was 17 and that is rapidly become nearly ten years ago. 8 years. It's time for a test. However, Andy got glasses last month so I need to wait until September-ish before I can go in case I need to buy new glasses. Pricey things aren't they?

  2. Haha so know what u mean, I can never read text messages on screen or rarely subtitles either! I hate wearing my glasses. I don't have a fear of the opticians but I hate looking at eyes etc... my OH always has problems with his contact lenses & I have to poke about with his eyes - yuk yuk, makes me feel all queasy!

  3. They've been doing that pressure test for several years now, I think they just invented it to scare people.
    Can't see the subtitles on the TV? - I can't even see the TV! Honestly. My eyes are -6.75.

  4. Ohhh, I was totally planning on laser surgery with my Euromillions win, but alas....

    Ha you're so right about "Is it better with this one or this one?" "Is the circle sharper on the red or the green?" I DON'T KNOW THEY BOTH LOOK THE SAME AND I'M GOING TO DAMAGE MY SIGHT PERMANENTLY BY GIVING THE WRONG ANSWER!

    I need to go back actually. Last time I was there he asked if I see black floaty things and I was like "Pff, no NEVER", but actually now I do. I never did til he mentioned them and now I can't STOP seeing the bloody things! People with good eyesight don't know how lucky they are.

  5. Hope you managed to pluck up the courage to stay and find a really funky pair!

  6. LOL! With you on the eye test thing! I always have this feeling I'm going to give a 'wrong' answer and get caught out somehow! I've just had to make the depressing leap to varifocals - prompted by the realisation that I couldn't thread a needle, or crochet in low light or read small print without a lot of squinting! Optician assures me its a normal part of reaching middle age and will progress to cataracts eventually!! Fab!!! (but confess to looking forward to the benefit of the new glasses next week!) x

  7. Er, I don't want to sound like good old Anonymous, but -1.5 is pretty good. I'm -11.5 and I won't even mention the cataract in case you run away screaming and never read my blog again :¬)

    ps. and I'm not even in the old lady catagorey yet!

    pps. Sew Mama Sew are doing a Doodle Stitching giveaway you might be interested in:

  8. those pressure tests are horrendous aren't they?! lucky you with -1 etc, spare a thought for those blind ones like me, nearing on -11!!

  9. Oh goodness, don't get me started on eyes. I made it to Uni without wearing mascara. Even now I have to concentrate quite hard not to think about what I'm doing while I apply it so that I don't panic..

    Sometimes I think about contact lenses and it take me some time to recover from just how amazingly horrifying that entire though process is.

    I'm babbling like a loon now cos I'm so overcome by eye panic. runs aawy!!!!!


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