Mar 10, 2007

BMV Eye Test Horror

While banking the other day the teller wished me a "happy belated birthday" as she handed me back my driver's license. This was her subtle way of reminding me that my license had just expired.

Being a responsible citizen - as well as someone who has been burned once before for letting my license lapse - my next stop was the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. I was glad to see that there was no line for license renewal.

The first step is the requisite vision test. With confidence I stuck my face in the machine, glad that I had just received a new set of glasses last week. Unfortunately, my new glasses were also my first set of bifocals, and I am still getting used to switching back and forth between the lenses.

My left eye is pretty useless, even on a good day. It is 20/500 without corrective lenses, and can only be ratcheted up to 20/30 with glasses. To compensate, I sometimes have to turn my head a bit and let my right eye do more of the work for long-distance detail. So when the BMV employee asked me to read Line 4 with my left eye, I was in trouble: lousy eye, new bifocals, and a paranoid fear that I would fail the eye test.

"Christ!" I thought to myself. "I'll lose my license and have to rely on the busses to get everywhere."

The more I tried to wiggle my head around in the vision machine to get a good reading angle, the worse my results were. I finally sputtered out enough correct letters on my left side to pass when she next asked me if I saw any flashing lights.

Looking straight ahead, I didn't see any. I thought I was supposed to see flashing lights in front of me someplace. Panic ensued, as there were none to be seen. I was especially shocked because, with my new lenses, I can se better than I have in years.

I didn't realize that this was a peripheral vision test, and that I should be aware of the edges of my sight. In addition, I was still squirming with the blasted machine, trying to fit my oversized, geeky glasses in the tiny eyeholes.

By now there were three people behind me, one of whom whispered to me that it was a peripheral vision test. A bit embarassed - but grateful for the reminder - I successfully located the flashing lights and passed the vision test, albeit with "help" from a good Samaritan.

Now if I can just remember this event the next time I come up for renewal, so I don't slip into panic mode.


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Hooda Thunkit said...


Welcome to the bifocal club.

Just wait till you join the trifocal club too ;-)

They think you're going spastic when you're really going blind. . .


Ed Winkle said...

Your case sounds just like mine but left eye even a little worse here. You just reduced my angst!