Proctor : June 2017
63 PROCTOR | June 2017 The eyes had it My dim view of optometrists I am, officially, old. No, don’t be fooled by that incredibly youthful-looking photo accompanying this column; recent events have confirmed it. I mean, sure, even I had noticed that I’d begun to look less like Hugh Jackman and more like George Clooney, but that wasn’t really enough to make me feel old; it was, however, enough to convince me that I needed glasses, and that means I am officially old. Now, before all you people who have worn glasses from a young age write to the editor suggesting that I be subjected to comical and largely physiologically impossible punishments, let me explain. You see, experienced glasses-wearers know how to choose glasses and how to wear them; in short, you experienced people can make them look good. When I put on my glasses, however, I resemble an intellectually unremarkable person who has visited a costume shop and made a poor choice – think Buddy Holly if he had lived, but without the musical talent. The only comfort I can take is that despite being very talented and having millions of dollars to his name, Bono still looks like an utter pillock with his glasses on (although this may in part be due to the fact that he is surrounded by the thickest layer of smug known to modern science). I only need my glasses for reading, which ironically is worse because I am constantly being reminded of the fact that I need glasses, and let’s face it, that is a constant reminder of the aging process. In other words, Clark Kent doesn’t put his glasses on to become Superman. To be honest though, I don’t know why Clark bothered with the glasses at all, because anyone who can’t pick out a super-powered alien simply because he puts on a pair of glasses is not exactly in Stephen Hawking territory, intelligence-wise, and wouldn’t work out Clark Kent was Superman if he had it tattooed across his forehead. I mean, we know Clark has been a reporter for well over 50 years and nobody in his city has picked up that he has never filed a single story (NB: This conclusion does not apply to the people who worked with Superman when he was played by George Reeves in the old black-and-white TV show, as George had more of a, shall we say, ‘journalist’s’ physique, assuming the journalist had been covering a fried food festival). I digress, however, as there was another downside to glasses that I hadn’t considered, and that is because for almost 50 years I haven’t needed them; I had never been to an optometrist in my life before. That means that I have never had any of the eye tests that most people have over time, allowing my optometrist to give them to me pretty much all at once (I suspect she also booked a week in Hawaii as well, because the tests are not free). I thought I might be reading letters off a sheet the way you used to have to when you renewed your driver’s licence (this is no longer required, presumably because the government feels that being able to see is no longer a prerequisite for getting issued with a driver’s licence; and this is no doubt due to the fact that three out of every four drivers are Facebooking rather than watching the road these days, and whether or not they can see has no effect whatsoever on the likelihood that they will have an accident). However, it seems the optometrists’ club has realised that you cannot charge the cost of a new BMW for saying ‘please read this’ and so have developed more complex – by which I mean painful – tests. I say they developed them, but I suspect what they did was ask WikiLeaks what the Americans did to people in Guantanamo Bay and simply copy that. It started with them telling me to turn up early so that they could put stuff in my eyes which dilated my pupils so that they (my pupils, not the optometrists) could not close to prevent too much light getting in. Literally billions of years of evolution have given us this wonderful ability to prevent too much light getting in and damaging our eyes, but it turns out optometrists want no truck with eye protection. I was also told not to drive because the drops would make my vision blurry (optometrists cling to the outmoded view that the ability to see is an advantage when driving) and that was indeed correct. In fact, when I finally wobbled off into the testing room I spent two minutes talking to what turned out to be an indoor plant before the optometrist arrived; had I been driving, I wouldn’t have been able to ‘friend’ anyone smaller than Clive Palmer. You may recall being told, as a child, not to stare at an eclipse; well, my optometrist spent the rest of the session showing me why. She shone powerful lights into my eyes, directing me to look at them from time to time; I expected to hear a German-accented voice ask me what the attack plans were. This continued for some time, during which I am certain I blurted out my name, rank and serial number, and possibly the location of the secret ammo dump, Although at the time the tests seemed pointless, on reflection I can see they served a real purpose: they made sure that, if I didn’t need glasses before I walked in, I certainly did when I walked out. It is clearly rainmaking, sort of like a PI lawyer running someone over and then slipping a business card into the victim’s pocket. (Editor’s note to naive young lawyers: Do NOT do this!) Eventually my optometrist finished what she was doing (using lasers to tattoo ‘Optometrists tell cornea jokes!’ on the back of my retina is my guess) and let me bump my way to the waiting room, where my family was indeed waiting (it is a well-named room). Despite my blurred and light-dazzled eyes, I was able to navigate to them by following the sound of my son asking the receptionist if he could connect to their wi-fi, which is a question he asks any time he is in a structure more technically advanced than a tent. My wife then drove me home where I was able, I believe by using the force, to pour and consume a couple of glasses of red wine. The next day I could see again, and the good news is that test revealed there is nothing odd on my retina, as long as you don’t count optometrist-flavoured graffiti. I look forward to my next visit to the optometrist, as soon as I decide which one of my major organs I can live without in order to afford it, or if I can’t find a buyer I will simply achieve the same result by poking myself in the eye with a sharp stick (and now you know where that saying comes from). Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2017. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.