Wednesday, June 28, 2006
(11:30 AM) | Tara Smith:
The Loathsome Subjectivity of Vision ExaminationsLike everyone, I dread the air-puff machine. It's frightening and abrupt and ridiculously ill-timed (not only does it forcibly blast air at my eye, it also requires me to sit still without blinking far longer than is natural; or at least far longer than seems natural when you're thinking about not blinking).
But more than anything, I hate this sentence: "Which is better: one? ....or two? Three? ...or four? Or are they about the same?"
From the dregs of my very earliest memories all the way through every eye exam in my life (including this morning), I can recall first an inkling, then suspicion, then a growing paranoid conviction that this "test" has no bearing on any scientific inquiry into my actual de facto ability to see, but is rather part of a covert scheme among eye doctors to suss out who is honest and who is a lying liar. (This originates, no doubt, in my private Deeply Held Belief that I am uniquely incapable of telling the truth, which in turn originates in the one-second delay that somehow occurs between what I think and what I say, which gives me the constant perplexing impression of being an actor in my own life.)
Surely, surely, there is some sort of computer or machine or smart microcosm or some other non-human agent that can tell better than I can what my vision prescription should be. Surely eye doctors are already privy to this technique and use it at some indiscernible point of the exam: they already know what my vision is; they're just testing whether or not I'm going to be honest about it. Or maybe they're testing to see if I possess the subtle awareness necessary to truly understand what's "Better? ...Or worse?" for my ocular development. Either way, I always leave Lenscrafters with a vague sense of failure.
Anybody hear me on this, or am I just really weird?