A Week in the Life of An Optometrist

A Sage Grouse Photo:Voiceforthewild.org
A Sage Grouse

I had some really serious topics last week with sequestration, taxes, and selling out. Today I thought I’d share a little bit of the lighter side of my work. While I’ve been frustrated with some of the business aspects of being in private practice, I truly love most of my patients. I’ll give you a glimpse into a week in the life of an optometrist. These are all honest to God patients and true stories.

Monday: A gentleman shows up and marks on his history form that he has glaucoma. He was not under treatment because he though his diabetes medicine would work for glaucoma as well. I appreciate dual uses for products but since his pressure was 26 and 47 (normal is under 21), we can safely conclude that diabetes medicine doesn’t work for glaucoma. After a long discussion about vision loss from untreated glaucoma, how to take drops, how he can get assistance if he can’t afford his drops, and how important follow up is, I asked if he had any questions. Like a good patient, he did.

Mr. Glaucoma: “Can you do anything about the scratches on my glasses?

That sound you heard Monday afternoon was me banging my head against  a cement wall.

Tuesday: A middle aged man calls with the complaint of a red swollen eye. He arrives before I am finished with the previous patient and starts to pace the floor and text on his cell phone. When it’s his turn, I show him into the exam room.

Kim: “What’s going on?”

He launches in to a five minute tirade that I couldn’t quite understand. The highlights were about being upset with Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and sage grouse, which are either endangered or not. I wasn’t sure what the verdict was on that one. Then he moved on to the fact that he lost his ranch, which may or may not have had anything to do with Ken Salazar or the plight of the sage grouse. My next comment,

 “Wow, that’s lots of information, but I meant what was going on with your eye?”

Mr Grouse: “Oh”

It was obvious that he had shingles.

Mr. Grouse: “Well how does that happen?”

Kim: “If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the virus is in your system and can show up as shingles under periods of great stress, and it sounds like you’ve been under stress.You should be careful if you’re around people who haven’t had or haven’t  been vaccinated for chicken pox, especially babies”

Mr Grouse: “Oh, I only hang around old farts like myself, and I never see babies”

Let’s hope he doesn’t come into contact with Mr. Salazar. If you seen an angry man trying to infect Washington with shingles, you’ll know who it is.

Wednesday: A mom brings in her young son’s glasses. They are the flexible material that is more impact resistant, but they are literally tied in a bow.

Staff: “How did that happen?”

Mom: “He put them on his dresser for bed, and they were like this when he woke up.”

Yep, another victim of the glasses leprechaun who goes around breaking glasses while you sleep.

Thursday: My 9 AM patient shows up drunk as a skunk, complaining of red eyes. It must be a pretty good job you have if you can be drunk at 9 AM, so I asked what he did. He was a truck driver and had a haul to the neighboring town right after his appointment. After some slurring and sliding around, I gathered that he felt his vision was blurry because of his red eyes.

Otis: “You think I should drive today with my eyes all red?” (Imaging your best drunk voice)

Kim: “Today might not be the best day.”

Friday: An old man shows up for an appointment. I’ve seen him many times, and I know he has dementia and is very hard of hearing. He kind of nods and smiles at everything I say, but he can’t answer any questions. His wife usually comes with him and yells at him if she needs to tell him anything, He’s by himself today. I assume this is going to be fruitless.

Kim, yelling as loud as I can: “How are you, Mr. Deaf?”

Mr. Deaf in a normal tone of voice: “I need cataract surgery.”

When I picked myself up off the ground from shock. I realized that he was wearing his hearing aides. He could carry on a normal conversation. He was very lucid, and I didn’t need to yell. He never had dementia. He just didn’t like to use his hearing aides, so he lived in a state of blissful oblivion. He couldn’t hear anything anyone yelled at him.

Mr. Deaf:” I need cataract surgery so I won’t have to wear these glasses. If I have to wear my hearing aides AND these glasses, I’d have to be a jackass to have big enough ears to hold all this crap up.”

I put in the referral, and changed his name from Mr. Deaf to Mr. Selective Hearing.

I’m not sure how any of this relates to personal finance, but if you can enjoy the variety of humanity you deal with every day, I think it helps with success in your job. If not, at least I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the sage grouse.

Who was your most entertaining client or business associate?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.


  1. It seems like being an optometrist would be a really interesting job. It would be cool to see how many different cases and scenarios you have to deal with. I would think that it would be kind of overwhelming to have to know how to handle so many different eye problems. I really respect workers that are able and willing to go into this field.

  2. Spouse showed me this blog so I ocassionally look at it. WOW – won’t be looking at this one ever again. I can not believe that you make fun of your patients – on the web – in such a callous manner. I’m an attorney and I’ve heard plenty, but I would NEVER in a million years “vent” at the expense of my clients. Shame on you!

    And you wonder why so many people hate doctors – of any type?????????????

    1. I appreciate your opinion. Sharing stories is not in any way to make fun of my patients. I go to great lengths to take care of them. However, very commonly, patients have their own agenda that doesn’t always correlate with the best treatment options, and this was my attempt to add some humor to the everyday situations that I encounter. No, it is never funny to get glaucoma, but you have to take it with a grain of salt when you’ve had a long conversation with someone who is potentially going blind when all they are concerned about is getting a new frame or colored contact lenses. I think this post, if anything, makes fun of me in that I assume I am doing a good job of explaining myself and what gets said is certainly not what is heard or understood by many patients. I would think if I went to the doctor and pretended to be deaf so I didn’t have to answer any questions, the doctor is certainly entitled to find humor in that. I apologize if my intention seemed otherwise.

  3. Kim those are great stories, got a friend in Tennessee who is an optometrist and he hears all kinds of interesting stories as well. I will have to say that he has received a lot of good investment ideas from some of the ole timers though! One of the biggest challenges of his job is knowing when to end the conversation so you can move on to the next patient, bet you experience that as well. Enjoyed the read!!

    1. I do feel like I am pushing them out the door sometimes. Certain people would talk all day with the right audience.

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