I sat at my desk reading a book I had just ordered from my medical supplier - "Causes and Effects of High Myopia".
Everything that I had read was pretty straightforward, and I was almost at the end, without being any closer to my quest for a method to reduce the amount of myopia in some of my patients. I was waiting for a pretty special patient, and had a bit more time to kill before her appointment.
I am an optometrist. I have been in this game for over 30 years, and I was looking forward to being able to retire soon. There were too many changes now for me too keep up with all the new high index lens types, and the new treatments that were becoming available. My mind drifted back to the early days when I had realized that this was the profession that I wanted to be in.
I recalled the first girl I ever saw wearing glasses. I was in the fifth grade, and on the first day back to school after the summer recess, I came into our classroom, only to be met by the prettiest girl in our class. She was wearing her new glasses, and I fell deeply and madly in love with her all over again. It was then that I decided to become an eye doctor.
In later years, as my other classmates got glasses, I felt left out, and I too wanted glasses, but every time I had an eye exam, I passed it. So, it was through high school, and then into university.
When I graduated, I was hired by one of the first optical chains. They didn't have eye doctors in their stores, but instead had little examination offices right next to the optical store. The front door of my office opened onto the street, but there was a really wide double door opening that opened right into the optical shop, and we were instructed to have the nurse guide the patients out into the optical store, where they were met by an optician.
I was keen. My first few patients had the best refraction of their lives. I was fast, but thorough, and I didn't write any prescriptions unless I felt the patient would be helped by the wearing of glasses.
After about half of my patients had gone out without a prescription, the manager of the optical store came back to see me. He proceeded to tell me that my paycheck came from helping him sell glasses, and that he knew that if people came in for an eye exam, they were prepared to get glasses.
I got the gist of things, and after that, if anyone seemed to need even the least bit of correction, they left with a prescription. After about a year of that I was bored.
When myopic patients came in, I started to bump their prescriptions a bit. If the machine called for a half diopter increase in their glasses, I would jump it by a whole diopter. If any patients complained, I would have them wear their glasses a bit farther down their nose, and for the most part, people seemed quite happy.
One lady, who started out with me as a fairly high myope with about a -8 prescription came back every year, because she had gotten used to the feeling of the slightly stronger prescription, and she liked it. In about a ten year period, I felt I had bumped her prescription by about 6 or 7 diopters, and she was quite shortsighted by this time.
I became one of the first doctors in our city to fit the early contact lenses, and one day I met a gorgeous young lady who had come in to be fitted for contacts.
First I checked her glasses prescription. It was a healthy -9.75 and a -10.25. When I did a refraction, I found that her eyes had increased by well over a diopter and a half, and that I could bump her almost 2 diopters.
I advised her that her eyes had gotten worse, and that while her eyes were changing, it was unwise to be fitted for contacts. I thought she was going to cry. I asked her what the problem was and she told me her boyfriend hated her wearing glasses, and that she just had to wear contacts.
I suggested that maybe if he couldn't accept her for what she was, that maybe she should change boyfriends. She sort of liked that suggestion, and by the time she was ready to go next door for new glasses, she was almost laughing and joking about it.
She was the last patient of the day, and I went into the optical store with her. Because of her poor vision, she was having a terrible time choosing her frames, so I helped her pick them out. After we had chosen the frames and ordered the lenses, I asked her out for dinner.
To my surprise she accepted. We were married less than a year later, and we have been married over 30 years. We have 2 lovely children, a boy and a girl. Both children inherited their mother's myopia.
My son is a high myope, but he stopped at around -9. My daughter is still requiring stronger prescriptions almost yearly, and is up into the low -20's. My wife's eyes stabilized around -18. I had tried everything I could to reduce, or lower my family's myopia. I certainly stopped my practice of bumping prescriptions with my own family, but it seems that myopia will increase, no matter what you do.
My nurse receptionist came into my office to tell me that my next patient had arrived, so I walked out into the outer office to greet my wife, my daughter, and my precious little 3 year old granddaughter.
She ran over to me, and I hugged her. I picked her up, and carried her into the examination room, followed closely by my two other favorite women. I put her down, and she carried her teddy bear over to the chair and set it down.
"Wait for me here bear", she said. "Grampa is going to try to make me see better." I put her up into the chair, and gently removed her -40 diopter myodiscs. I placed them on the side table and proceeded to move the machine in front of her eyes.
Was this my punishment for all the prescriptions I had bumped?