Friday, 17 August 2012

The eyes have it

Lurking in the air somewhere last Sunday was a carrier of conjunctivitis. Somehow it found its way into my right eye and 24 hours later I looked as if I had walked into a tree. Unfortunately my arrival at the local surgery was just too late for an appointment, but I was invited to drive to a nearby village hall for 10 o'clock where open surgery was being held, and I would definitely be seen.

With some effort I made it to said surgery by 9 o'clock and parked in the deserted car park. By 9.30 the next "patient" had arrived and by 10.00 o'clock I was silently willing the computer to respond more quickly to keyboard prompts whilst agreeing with doctor about the problem. Duly supplied with a free prescription I headed home via the dispensing chemist. Unfortunately I was the only one at home so with some difficulty I read the microscopic instructions wrapped around a tube of what looked like good old "golden eye ointment".

Have you ever tried putting ointment into your own eyes, or eye drops for that matter?

"Head back, in front of a mirror, pull out the lower lid with one hand and holding the tube between thumb and forefinger of the other hand  insert about half an inch of ointment into the lower lid. Then blink twice". Hm.The first half inch dribbled down my cheek. The next half inch thickened one eyebrow. The third attempt was definitely much closer to the eyeball which started to water in response to being stabbed by a plastic point - however the opaque sticky mass joining top and bottom eye lid did seem to be evidence of success.

On my annual eye tests there is a moment when a massive howitzer type of machine is wheeled forward ready for the eye pressure test. This involves a puff of air onto an exposed eye ball. If ever Pavlov needed to test his theory about reactions on humans he would have done well to use this test. Just the thought of it is making my eyes damp now. When the moment comes in the eye test my eyes are already watering and the eyelids refusing to stay open now matter how hard I try. It's time for gritted teeth and a real mental effort to stare down the howitzer barrel.

Later applications of eye ointment by my wife started to produce the same reaction. I was reduced to lying on the bed, head pressing backwards as the plastic applicator approached, to a point where I was making a deep impression in the mattress. This does nothing for male ego or self esteem. 

The episode has made me very wary of pollen and dust around trees or shrubs - and very thankful for the national health service. So much so that I will be miking a small donation to a charity working for eye care in Developing countries in order to re-establish a bit of personal dignity.

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