On a list of the top 10 things to say before something very bad happens, I’d probably rank “what could possibly go wrong?” in the top 5 right beside “Hey, watch this!” and “I saw this on YouTube!” So as this story goes, I went into the optometrist’s office the other day to discuss an ill fitting recent prescription and, because I have a different prescription in either eye, a quick fix was suggested: switch the contacts around. That was the kind of mistake newbies make, one which I had never made after over 8 years of being a contact wearer but I was willing to entertain the possibility that my trippy, vortex-like vision for the last 2 weeks was my own mistake so I agreed to the experiment. Now, I like to think I present myself as a fairly capable person able to navigate my way through life with a few less broken pieces than the average….well, stupid person. (If you haven’t faced the reality that people are collectively stupid, you’re only fooling yourself.) It would seem that the optometrist’s assistant also believed that I was a capable person when he sent me, alone and unattended, into the contact lens room to test the theory. If the feeling of developing superhero eye powers disappeared, then the experiment was a success. It was going to take 30 seconds-max.
A loud, obnoxious warning siren should have gone off when I thought to myself that there’s nothing to worry about here in this doctor’s room full of plasticy things, and clear liquids with technical names which could give horror to any high school chemistry student.
Nothing could possibly go wrong. I’m not even touching anything.
A table with a backless roller stool on either side awaited me and a mirror standing on the table facing one side was standard. Wall to wall cubbies stocked with mini-drawers of contact lenses of all brands, purposes and strengths wall papered the three sides of the walk-in room. Posters of disgusting eyeballs after improper care tried to work their freak show of scare tactics but I ignored them. On the counter beside me were mini-cupcake liners and a small pharmacy of saline solutions to choose from. They didn’t have my brand so I grabbed one of the bottles from the back and squirted some liquid into a little cup where I could rest one contact while I switched the other one out.
One contact out, in the solution, the second out, then back into the other eye….Tapping my index finger into the solution I picked up the first contact and put it in my other…- OH MY &@#^&!*&$#*!!!!!! IT BUUUUUUUUUURNS!!!!!!!
I felt like the Wicked Witch melting one eyeball at a time as my eyelid shut itself down in Red Alert mode as it just burned and watered and fought my every attempt to pry it open and take this torture out of me. I won the battle soon enough and threw the contact back from whence it came and just let my eye cry its little heart out while it burned with the fires of Hades blazing and the claws of the kraken scratching itself out a lair one layer of cells at a time.
With one hand I clutched my eye and with the other I grabbed the offending bottle of imposter saline by the neck roughing it up to confess its dirty lies of deceit. And it coughed up the goods alright- all 3% hydrogen peroxide worth of confessions.
It was a deep cleansing solution (who gets their contacts that dirty to necessitate hydrogen peroxide I have no idea) and after removing your contacts from the solution, they were not to go near your eye for SIX HOURS after removal! Beneath this piece of instructional information, in the little all caps lettering that is supposed to get your attention like an ant stealing your picnic one pea at a time, a warning read: DO NOT HAVE DIRECT CONTACT WITH EYE. No. Freakin’. Kidding. There was no added clause about, “in case of contact, reach your nearest poison control centre” so I took that as a good sign and as I frantically flushed my eye with the running water of the God-given tap conveniently placed right there (as though they knew). I wondered why on earth this wolf in sheep skin was even there. This was supposed to be room to fit contacts, to train the newbies on how put them in and out, this should be the natal room of optometry offices full of soft fabrics and rounded corners and instead we have an ER room full of abrasion and as much death as life.
Eventually I took a look at my post-trauma eye and found it as red as case of pink eye and I knew it wasn’t going away in time to make a shameless exit back into the main office especially after being in there for a nearly solid 5 minutes. I told them I pinched my eye pretty good chagrined of my “stupid people” tag I had just earned myself. That cover up might have earned me another “stupid people” tag but at least it would be one that only I knew about.
As a post-script I did conclude that my prescriptions really did only need switching. The even better part is that there has been no lasting damage to my eye despite being flushed with hydrogen peroxide.