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Eye Exams

I love my eye doctor.  He seems to love what he does and enjoys interacting with patients.  The only problem is, every time I have an eye exam I start obsessing about something going wrong with my eyes.

Part of it is definitely me.  I worry about everything, in case you haven’t noticed.  First of all, I get stressed out if I can’t read the lines that I’m supposed to be able to read.  I know it’s not a test but it feels like I’m failing, and I hate failing.  Today I found out that in my left eye I could see far away but not close up, and in my right eye I could see close up but not far away.  I thought, oh no!  My eyes are going in opposite directions!

However, I think part of it is his fault, too, because he gives me way to much information–about eyeball health, glaucoma, retinal tears, detached retinas.  It’s sort of like when someone has a phobia but they’re fascinated by the thing that they fear.  I want to hear the information so I keep asking him all of these questions but then I worry that I’m going to develop whatever it is he’s talking about.

When I turned 40 he told me that at some point in my 40’s I would start to develop farsightedness.  He described how it would feel and what corrections could be made once it happened.  On the one hand, I was reassured that my tennis game would not be compromised once I became farsighted.  However, every day I wondered if this was the day it would happen.  Can I see now?  Is this normal vision?  I was constantly giving myself vision tests.

When I turned 43 it started happening.  I had a hard time going back and forth from looking at something close up to something far away.  I couldn’t read tiny print.  In my mind, it was the telltale sign that I was officially middle-aged.  I was depressed about this but fully prepared to go in today and find out that it was time for trifocals and accept my old-ladyhood like the warrior that I am.  (More on warriors in a future post.)

But it turns out that this skewed left-eye/right-eye development is to my advantage; it actually makes it possible for me to see both close up and far away.  He said he was going to hold out as long as possible before taking any additional corrective measures, so he didn’t make any changes to my prescription.  I passed the test!

After thoroughly examining all other aspects of my eye health, he told me that I have healthy retinas and that most people at my age do not.  So of course I needed to know what distinguished a healthy retina from an unhealthy one and how I would go about rehabilitating my retina if for whatever reason it suddenly became unhealthy.  Because of course now I have to worry that this might happen to me.

By this time he realized that it was not a good idea to give me even positive feedback without some reassurance that I would never experience any deterioration in my eyeball functioning whatsoever.  So he told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about unhealthy retinas for at least another 80 years or so.

I’m not sure this is as scientifically accurate as the other information he has given me, but it made me feel better, anyway.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

2 responses »

  1. Christy, you have “mono-vision”. I do too and it has definitely worked to my advantage. I am almost 60 and have not had to wear eyeglasses. That is changing now and I have to wear glasses to watch television. I can still read just fine.


  2. I am already nearsighted and have an astigmatism. So the farsightedness was going to be in addition to these problems.



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