The Worst Mistake You Make When You Get an Eye Exam

Your Eye Doctor May Not Even Know You're Doing It

You’ve probably heard a lot of advice about what to do when you get an eye exam.  But is there anything you shouldn’t do?  Absolutely.


Spinning a Tall Tale

When I was in optometry school, I worked in an eye clinic to support myself and gain valuable experience.

One day a woman claimed her glasses lens had cracked, and she was hoping to receive a new one at no charge.  In her opinion, the lens cracked because it was defective.

Another student and I examined the lens.  It was clearly scratched, but not cracked.  I didn’t want to seem confrontational, but the other student had no such reservations.

He told her what he thought, and she got pretty mad.  She yelled at my coworker, insisting the lens was cracked, and demanding a replacement.

We replaced her lens in the name of good customer service.  Still, we suspected she was telling a fib to avoid having to pay.

Always Tell the Truth

Many patients lie to their doctors.  A 2015 study found about a quarter of patients do this for various reasons.  A scratched lens won’t hurt your vision.  But what if you’re misleading your eye doctor about more important matters, such as whether you are using medicated eye drops or how much you smoke?

For example, I may have a patient who has glaucoma.  If their eye pressure suddenly increases, I have to make sure they are using their eye drops.  Many times patients will admit they are not, even if they said they are.  This scenario is fairly common.

But there’s a big difference between a medication that isn’t working and one that isn’t being used.  The former is a much harder problem to solve.  No matter the reason, there is usually a solution to help people get on track.

But your eye doctor can’t help you if you’re not telling the truth.

Here are three reasons not to lie to your eye doctor:

  • It’s your vision.  Put aside fear of embarrassment or of being judged.  Your vision is too precious to lie about.  If you’re doing something you shouldn’t then tell your doctor and ask for help.  If you’re not doing something you should, ask your doctor to help you with ways to get better or more consistent.
  • Your doctor wants to help you.  Yes, doctors may get frustrated or even angry if you haven’t followed their advice.  But they’re only getting upset because they care about you and want you to be well.  It’s why people became a doctors.  I’d rather have a patient tell me the truth so I can adjust treatment.  If a patient lies, I may think they are doing well and they leave without proper care.  This isn’t good for anyone.
  • Lying may affect your treatment.  Many people don’t realize that doctors use treatment protocols.  That means they use information provided by patients to make decisions.  Protocols, rules, and standards of care help guide those decisions.  If you’re not giving your doctor true information, your treatment plan may not work as well.  It may even be harmful.

People may lie to their doctors simply because they aim to please.  And while I am always happy when a patient is following advice, I never want to believe it’s true when it isn’t.

You’re responsible for your own health.  This is especially true in the exam room.  To make the most of your eye exam and your relationship with your trusted eye doctor, make sure you tell the truth.

Question: have you ever felt tempted to lie to a doctor?  Please let me know in the comments below.

You’ll Love This Adorable Baby Blanket

Here's the Story About How It Almost Didn't Get Made

Sometimes we’re blessed with moments of clarity about our careers.  I had one of those moments a few weeks ago.


A Case of Really Poor Vision

This summer I met a patient who was having vision problems.  Sue* wanted an exam because her left eye was uncomfortable.  It turned out to be a corneal disease she didn’t know she had.

She also had cataracts that were so dense glasses would not help.  Finally, I had to tell her that her vision was too poor to drive safely.  In addition to needing cataract surgery and aggressive corneal treatment, now she couldn’t drive.  I could hardly imagine a worse introduction to a new eye doctor.

Fast Forward

Today, Sue is doing much better.  Because her corneal disease was limited to her left eye, she was able to have cataract surgery on her right eye.  She’s recovering beautifully.

Her left eye is also doing much better.  Hopefully she will be able to have cataract surgery in that eye too.

At her last visit to LaFollette Eye Clinic, she showed me a picture of a baby blanket she made (see the photo above).  She finished it just in time for a new baby in her family.

I was amazed, and said as much.  She replied, “I want to thank you.  After surgery, my vision got so much better.  Before I had cataract surgery, I would never have been able to make this blanket.”

What About You?

Are you not doing things because you can’t see well enough to do them?  Sue’s case is extreme, but maybe you’ve had more subtle changes.  Glare at night, fatigue while working, dry eyes, or blurry vision are all great reasons to have an eye exam.  And there are no good reasons to put off something that important.

Here’s what you can learn from Sue:

  • Schedule your eye exam now.  If Sue hadn’t waited until she had symptoms, her corneal disease and cataracts could have been diagnosed and treated at a much earlier stage, before things became urgent.
  • Don’t hope symptoms will go away.  Be safe, not sorry.  I do see a lot of patients whose symptoms are benign.  But that’s better than seeing patients who wait until it’s too late.  It does happen, and it’s never easy.
  • Pay attention.  Even with regular eye care, problems can arise between exams.  Symptoms such as dryness, itching, and blurry vision are easy to spot.  But don’t let more subtle problems slip by.  Mild symptoms such as floaters, a few seconds of blurred or grey vision, and even a brief flash of light in your vision can mean serious eye problems.
  • Use your vision.  This one is my favorite.  Living the visual lifestyle isn’t just about clear vision.  It’s about how you use and enjoy it, both now and for life.  You may not be able to make a baby blanket, but there are plenty of arts, people, and outdoor spaces to see and enjoy.  Why not take the time to do so today?

I’m glad Sue is on her way to better vision and a better tomorrow.  Let her experience inspire you to take care of your own vision and eye health.

Question:  I’m thankful Sue is doing better.  What are you thankful for this week?  Please let me know in the comments below.


*Name changed

These Smart Glasses Actually Seem Really Smart

When Will You Be Wearing a Pair?

You’ve heard of smart phones, watches, TVs, and cars.  And now, Vue Smart Glasses just might change the eyewear world.

Image: Vue

Image: Vue

Workout Woes

I enjoy working out, and I like background music to keep me motivated.

If I’m at home, I’ll simply use a bluetooth speaker.  On the road, it’s a different story.  I use earbuds, but I’m not happy with them.  I even upgraded to a custom pair.  Still, they’re far from perfect.

They’ll often get ripped out if I’m doing pushups or curls.  And if someone greets me, there’s that awkward moment when I have to take one out and ask them what they just said.  And forget about running with earbuds in.  For safety reasons, I just won’t do it.

I know I could up my game (and my expense) with wireless earbuds.  But they wouldn’t solve all the challenges I just listed.

Can Glasses Solve My Hearing Problem?

Vue Smart Glasses may be my answer.  They could replace my earbuds, offer added functions, and even look good doing it.

The Vue Kickstarter campaign is underway.  Early retail pricing is $269 and up, depending on lenses (although backers enjoy a discounted price).  As of this writing the campaign has raised over eighteen times the initial goal.  And there are still 22 days to go.

According to Vue, here’s what we can expect:

  • Safety first: The glasses use bone conduction for phone calls, music, messages, and alerts. This means you can hear what you want without plugging your ears.
  • Style conscious: Vue will be offered in two styles and several color and texture combinations. They won’t make you look like a techno geek from the future.
  • Something for everyone: Backers can choose style and lens type. Whether you like sunglasses or need a prescription, the choice is yours.  Specialty options such as glare free treatments and photochromic lenses are also available.
  • Fashionably fit, but not late: An activity tracker can help you work out, and GPS navigation will get you to your destination on time.
  • Bonus features:  They automatically power down when you’re not wearing them, charge wirelessly in the included case, and are controlled by swiping or tapping the frame.

I haven’t jumped on the wearable tech bandwagon yet.  I don’t own an activity tracker or smart watch.  If it doesn’t solve a current problem, I’m just not as interested.  That’s true for many people.

But Vue smart Glasses may solve a problem I currently have that other wearables can’t.  And, they may do it while offering other valuable features.  Judging by their early Kickstarter success, there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

For more information, visit the Vue Kickstarter page, or check out this video:

Question: Would you invest in Vue Smart Glasses?  Why or why not?  Please comment below.