Eye test technology is always right

c: | f: /

If opticians want people to visit more regularly and not regard them as wealth-sucking ogres, they’re going to have to start listening.

Every time I go to the opticians I get the vague sense that the person conducting the exam is frustrated if I don’t give the right answer. And clearly there is a right answer, they’re just being smug in giving me the illusion of control. The result is that I always feel this dilemma over telling them what I can actually see vs what I think they expect I should see. Not a good basis for a relationship already.

It starts off routinely, “Please read the letters on the screen”:


Me: “I can’t see them.”

The optician fiddles with the overly-complicated eyewear that makes me look like an extra from A Clockwork Orange and repeats the question. I squint and make a stab at the letters. “E… B… K… C?”

“That’s fine,” she lies, blundering on with the next test. “Looking at the following image, is it clearer with A-” she flips the lens on a stalk over, “-or B?”


Me: “Erm, can you repeat that please?”

Optician: “A… or B?”

I start sweating in case I get it wrong: they both look the same to me. But she’s waiting for an answer so there must be an answer, and she knows which one I should pick. I decide to be vague. “Maybe ‘A’? Ummm, I guess.”

“OK,” she patronises, “how about C… or D?”

She uses the same lens, without flipping it first. Clearly I gave the wrong response and she’s hoping the sleight of hand will confuddle me. Little does she know I’m razor sharp and onto her game: I know this is really view B from before, and the wily cow is testing me. It’s like one of those psychometric exams where they repeat the same question in slightly different manners to see if you respond consistently over the duration of the test.

Me: “D, I think.”

Wrong answer again. “Really?” She repeats the process until I relent that C is indeed clearer, corroborating (or calibrating?) her machines.

The thing is, they know my prescription and have already used a bewildering array of expensive-looking technology to take photos of my retinae, puff air into them, and shine eye-wateringly intense lights inside them, which means all I can now see are bright blotches everywhere I look. So for starters, it’s no bloody wonder I can’t jump through the requisite hoops to satisfy her paycheque.

But equally, since they’ve measured my eyesight to the nearest billimetre and put their faith in machines to deliver accurate results, why do they even need to ask me what I can see, knowing the answer is subjective at best, and likely to be “wrong”?

Gimme your thoughts


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