Category: Eyes

That’s Why They Call It “Practice”

student_doctors.jpgEverybody would like to think that their doctor has always been faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to diagnose and treat rare and exotic diseases in a single touch of a stethoscope. Nobody likes to think that their doctor may have actually been at one point a bumbling Barney Fife in a white coat.

But as this amusing and poignant view of early clinical training shows, chances are, they probably were. After all, that’s why they call it “practice.” My question is: why do they continue to call it that even after you graduate?… Read the rest

Be Careful What You Pray For

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

–Matthew 5:45

Some of you may not know this, but Alabama Governor Bob Riley proclaimed this week “Days of Prayer for Rain” and asked all citizens to pray both individually and in their houses of worship for our drought to end. The predictable peals of derisive laughter came from the usual suspects, but it was business as usual in the Bible Belt.

According to yesterday’s Huntsville Times, it worked! Well, sorta.

I chuckled when I saw the headline and thought of that movie Bruce Almighty in which people prayed for things that they wanted or thought they needed, but the answers to their prayers often had unforeseen consequences.… Read the rest

Stranger Than Fiction

I know that tawdry stories such as this and this can catch a person’s eye like a bad case of conjunctivitis. Life is truly sometimes stranger than fiction.

So may I humbly suggest that this weekend you focus your peepers on this instead.

Thanks to my favorite law professor for recommending Stranger Than Fiction. It’s not often that I gush over a movie rental. But this morning, I’m overflowing like Old Faithful. Will Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhall, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah and Dustin Hoffman combine to produce a sober but soothing feast snack for the soul. There’s also a delightful reference to Space Camp for you Huntsville folks, plus some funny cameos by some guys whom you’ll recognize immediately.… Read the rest

Pretty Grads All in a Robe

Yesterday was Senior Sunday at our church. That’s “senior” as in high school, not the over-the-hill, AARP type. There were 26 seniors this year, which, as we say in the South, is a whole big mess of ’em.

They marched down the center aisle of the church, clad in their graduations robes–brown, burgundy, white, red, purple, power blue. This was the start of a new tradition this year. But just barely. It was announced last week that they would wear their robes, and as one might expect, there was a great hue and cry and a week’s worth of high drama.… Read the rest

One Man, One Slide

John had always told me, “Mike, when you walk into a room, you’ve got to make them believe that you’re the biggest gunslinger in the bar.”

He was referring to the way that I carried myself as I walked into the exam room. I guess he must have noticed the deer-in-the-headlamps expression on my face and the way that my jaw dragged along the floor as I encountered a dizzying array of eye disorders and diseases in those early days of my residency; nasty, often bloody, blinding stuff that never looked (or acted) quite the same way as the atlases and textbooks said it would.… Read the rest

I Hate Diplopia


I hate diplopia (i.e. “double vision”). When a patient presents with that complaint, it usually means that I have to slow down, change my exam, perform different tests and ask a whole different set of questions than I normally would. I deal with it, but it’s a real time sink. One of those, especially early in the morning, gets me behind schedule for the rest of the day.

If the Florida Gators win tonight, then I’ll have a whole new set of reasons to despise diplopia. For one, it would mean that those slimy reptiles would then have become the latest team to win two titles in a row, replacing my beloved but down-in-the-dumps Blue Devils who currently hold that distinction (’91, ’92).… Read the rest

Life Is A Test

It’s ironic that after all my prattling on about basketball these last few weeks, I won’t even be around to watch the Final Four Saturday. Instead, I’ll be at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis where I’ll be serving as an examiner with the National Board of Optometry. Fourth year optometry students take the Clinical Skills portion of the National Board shortly before graduating, and while for most it won’t be the last hurdle involved in obtaining a license to practice, it is a pretty significant one.

Basically, the students rotate among different stations where they perform various clinical procedures which are commonly done during an eye exam.… Read the rest

In the Hands of The Man Upstairs

He was a Vietnam vet with more than a few miles under the hood. The deep lines of his stubbly face and the sad, saggy eyes bespoke a hardscrabble life and many nights of facing off against Charlie in his dreams.

His vest, with its sleeves shorn from a regulation BDU, was festooned with a motley assortment of buttons, patches and pins:

“God Bless America”

“God, Duty, Country”

“POW*MIA–You Are Not Forgotten”

His automated wheelchair, likewise, was tattooed with various Marine Corps and patriotic stickers. There were two small American flags, one on each armrest, flying proud and strong.

The cigarettes that had helped keep Charlie at bay all these years had left deep and debilitating scars on his lungs, and the nicotine stained tubing from his supplemental oxygen tank looped around his chair, across his weathered face, and into his nostrils, allowing for short, labored breaths.… Read the rest

Keyboard Koping

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matthew 6:27

A patient of mine is suffering from depression and anxiety. He’s trying out a new medication and is seeing a psychologist to learn strategies for coping with the stresses and messes of daily living. I saw him recently and asked him how he was doing.

“Much better, Doc, thanks for asking,” he replied. “Whenever my mind starts to get too full, I just hit the ‘Delete’ button.”

Note to self: Give that a whirl. If that doesn’t work, hit “Esc.”

Read the rest

Which is Better, Then or Now?


We optometrists are notorious for asking such mind-torturing questions. Perhaps some of you have figured out by now that what we’re really aiming for, after all your hand wringing, nervous sweat and labored breathing, is a false dilemma. The words we want to hear is that both options are “the same,” for equality marks the end point of the refraction and the beginning (hopefully) of 20/20 vision.

I asked myself this same question as I looked back upon a recent trip to our alma mater (Hail!) Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. I often feel that I’m caught up in a time-warp when I travel there, so thick are the memories and so slow the pace of change in that sleepy college town “near the foothills of the Ozarks.”… Read the rest

You Gotta Love Those Gunnies

gunnery-sarge.jpgA young Marine officer was in a serious car accident, but the only visible permanent injury was to both of his ears, which were amputated. Since he wasn’t physically impaired he remained in the Marines and eventually rose to the rank of General. He was, however very sensitive about his appearance. One day the General was interviewing three Marines for his personal aide. The first was an aviator, and it was a great interview. At the end of the interview the General asked him, “Do you notice anything different about me?”

The young officer answered,” why yes, sir. I couldn’t help but notice that you have no ears.”Read the rest

His Eyes Doth Protrude Too Much

A tip o’ the lid to my friend Jason who yesterday beat me to the punch and blogged on a matter of utmost ocular importance.

During Sunday’s AFC Championship game between New England and Indianapolis, it seems much that much of the country’s attention was focused on Patriot wide receiver Reche Caldwell and his prominent peepers. Nicknamed “Headlights” by his teammates, Caldwell has eyes that appeared to nearly pop out of their sockets several times during the game, especially those two times he dropped easy catches, one all alone in the end zone. Rodney Dangerfield would have been proud–and impressed.… Read the rest

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!

Tis the season for the Sojourner Class at our church to watch some Christmas movies and try to unpack a few spiritual lessons. Last year, we spent a few weeks watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and so far this year we’ve viewed and discussed clips from Miracle on 34th Street and The Bishop’s Wife.

christmas_story_c.jpgThis Sunday we’ll be watching A Christmas Story. As you might recall, that’s the one where little Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) sets his heart on the mother of all Christmas presents: “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and ‘this thing’, which tells time.”… Read the rest

You Gotta Have Faith

Time magazine recently hosted a debate on God and science. The participants were scientist and committed atheist and philosophical materialist Dr. Richard Dawkins, author of the recently released book The God Delusion, and Dr. Francis Collins, committed Christian and Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

It’s worth reading all of this if you have the time since it’s very uncommon to see two such articulate spokespersons on opposite sides of a contentious debate actually talk to each other rather than past each other. I think you’ll agree that this article represents a rare sighting of civility in the American public square.… Read the rest