I was talking to Marco in emails about my eye exam which I finished up today (the majority was last Saturday, but they had to check that my contacts were working correctly). He said that when I was telling him about getting my eyes dilated, he couldn’t help but think of the Simpsons episode where Mr Burns is mistaken for being an alien after he gets a vocal cord scraping, an eye dilation, and turns green due to all of the nuclear waste in Springfield.
(Thanks to various birthday and Christmas gifts over the years, I now have an up-to-date Simpsons collection. Season 1 – 14 and season 20. It’s the only real DVD series I collect. And thanks to Roger for sorting them into proper order a few weeks ago because he couldn’t take it anymore. Ha.)
As mentioned, last Saturday I went to the Palisades mall for an eye exam, new eyeglasses and a new contact lens prescription. Marco mentioned how over in Europe you usually visit an optician (who gives you your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription), but they are not trained like an optometrist (who also diagnoses and treats various eye diseases). Yet over here it is common to see an optometrist who does a pretty thorough check of your eyes every few years while they measure you for your new prescription.
For example, during the eye exam she looked into my retina, looked at my cornea, and even flipped up my eyelids to look at the back of them. (Ew.) And my favorite (not really) test: blowing a burst of air into each of my eyes to check for glaucoma.
Another thing I find (partially) strange is that Roger said that it is more normal across the pond to come to the optician with your old contacts still in, and take the eye exam that way. You only take out your contacts for a more thorough exam if the strength has changed drastically or it has been a while. In contrast, during my first visit I wore my glasses but brought my contacts lens prescription for each eye so she would know what the baseline was. But I took off my glasses before the testing started.
It is also traditional in the States to get your eyes dilated every 2-3 years or so. This makes your pupils very large to allow the optometrist to more easily see into your eyes. First she put a drop in each of my eyes to numb them, since she said the actual drops were going to sting. Then she put a drop in each eye to dilate them, and had me close my eyes for a minute and pinch the bridge of my nose with a tissue to catch any fluid. Repeat that step again for another round of drops.
The actual dilation exam was under 5 minutes. She checked out everything in there, including the back of my eye. Two fun side effects of that: 1) it is hard to see objects up close. I had a very hard time seeing the half-inch tall clock numbers on my iTouch. It was a huge blur and a bit scary as everything else was clear enough. 2) Larger pupils means your eyes are more sensitive to bright light. Case in point: I went outside to the bus stop 20 minutes later and couldn’t even keep my eyes open for more than half a second. It burned. My eyes watered. I couldn’t look anywhere but the sidewalk (barely), and it was painful to glance up to see if the bus was there yet.
But I survived. And I am happy to report that the new contact lens from last Saturday (a different brand and a slightly stronger strength in my right eye) have helped combat how tired my eyes feel at night this past week.