If I have to give you a medical advice with regard to your eyes, this is the one: Regularly visit an ophthalmologist who regularly visits a dentist.
No, seriously. Vision screening involves a procedure wherein the oculist has to peer into your eye in a position, which, outside of a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation situation, can be deemed a bit kinky. Basically when he is looking deep into your eyes you will be performing an impromptu manual breath-analyser test on him. Suffice to say, it is never a good idea to visit an ophthalmologist just after his/her lunch hour (unless otherwise your intention is to the test the efficacy of garlic-fumes as clinical anaesthesia).
Another piece of information that I would like to share with you in this regard is: You must also avoid going to the ophthalmologist in the evenings because your eyes have to undergo something called dilation. I suspect dilation is the medical term for temporary blindness. OK, when dilated your eyes lose their ability to focus, and everything gets all fuzzy and you basically see the world like Kamal Haasan did in that song Vaanam Kizhe Vandal Enna… in the film Thoongaathe Thambi Thoongathe.
Once the dilation drops are administered into your eyes you are not supposed to open your eyes, and when you are taken into the doctor’s chamber later and asked to read the letters on the screen, you are supposed to open your eyes.
This might seem elementary to many but when I went for my eye screening last week, it did not occur to me at all:
Doctor: Sit in a comfortable position and read the letters on the screen.
Me: (In a panic-filled voice) ‘Ayyo doctor, onnume theriyala (Doctor, I can’t see a thing).
Doctor: (Testily looking at me and pointing to the screen which alone was illuminated in the room) I said, read the letters. Which means you have to open your eyes. Can anyone read with his eyes closed?
Me: But the nurse told me not to open my eyes at all when they are dilated.
Doctor: OK, open your eyes, see the screen. Can you see the screen? Now read. (If sarcasm had a font the previous sentences will all be in it).
Me: (Hurriedly looking at the letter ‘E’ which was the size of Bappi Lahiri) Yes, doctor I can read it. No problems. It is all very clear.
Doctor: No, wait. Why are you in a hurry? I want you to have a look at this (pointing to a line that had letters in a size clearly meant to prevent anyone from reading them. This is exactly the point-size that banks use in their documents listing out important terms and conditions, which can be basically summed up thus: In the event of any problem, you can go bang your head on a wall).
Me: Doctor, all I see is a full stop like smudge. Is this an early symptom of cataract?
Doctor: (Probably wanting to smack his forehead in desperation) Leave all those things to me. Just do what I tell you to. Now read this. (Handing me a small leaflet kind of thing)
Me: Ayyo doctor, can’t see a thing and I can confirm that my eyes are fully open.
Doctor: Oh sorry. Completely forgot that. (Sheepishly switches on the light) (Surely my effect was rubbing on to him)
After continuing with this, and later examining my eyes further, the doctor finally told me that I had hypermetropia, which suspiciously sounds like an eye affliction specific to those living in (hyper-metro cities) Chennai or Mumbai. But I didn’t say that to him because I also realised that would have been a pretty weak joke even by my standards.
‘Don’t worry’, the doctor told me, ‘hypermetropia is inevitable for a middle-aged man like you. We can fix this with a new pair of spectacles.’
Neither the fact that he called me a middle-aged man nor the fact that I had hypermetropia seemed to worry me at that moment. But the thought that I had to go in for a new pair of glasses did put me off. Because, in my reckoning, all those who had planned a career highway robbery had put their plans on hold and become… investment bankers? No, they all seem to have started optical shops. Because: 1. It is not all that different. 2. It is actually far more lucrative. 3. It is worth telling that it is far, far more lucrative than any of you believe.
‘You want to try out the spectacles in our shop?’ the doctor’s assistant later asked me as he made out the prescription for me. ‘We can give you some good deals’.
‘No, thanks’ I said.
‘But anyway have this. You may need it in the future,’ the assistant said and handed me the shop’s visiting card.
‘But anyway, you have this. Your doctor sure needs it,’ I said while handing a small piece of paper to him.
In it written was, well, the phone number of my dentist.