tagMatureEye Exam

Eye Exam


"Daddy? Are you okay?"

"Oh, sure. I'm fine, honey. I just need to rest my eyes. That's all."

"Do you have a headache?" his daughter asked.

"Yeah. I kinda do."

"Do you want me to bring you something for it?"

"No. That's okay, sweetie. I'll go get it. I need to get away from the computer screen for a bit anyway."

"Okay," she said, satisfied that her father was okay.

Dexter Hall, who went by 'Dex', was only 35, but he knew his eight-year old daughter worried about him. After all, that's how it all started with her mother three years ago when she said she needed to rest her eyes, something that happened more and more often as the weeks went by.

And then the headaches started. And then there were the doctor visits followed by referrals to specialists then the CAT-scan followed by an MRI, and finally the diagnosis.

Neither he nor his wife, Angie, had ever heard the word 'meningioma' before, and once they learned what it meant, they were told they 'rarely' turned out to be malignant and that they 'rarely' ever spread or metastasized. But 'rarely' didn't mean never, and in Angie's case, her tumor wasn't benign and it did metastasize. And eight months later, she was gone.

Their daughter, Addison, had been five and had done her best to try and understand, but that just wasn't possible for someone so young. Now, at the age of eight, she was rightly concerned about her father, who'd been working at home the last two years.

He debugged software for a living and was very good at it. As a result, he was earning just over a hundred grand a year, and that was very good money for someone living in Middleburg, Florida, located about 30 miles to the south of Jacksonville.

But that kind of salary came with a cost. He spent a good twelve hours a day, often six or even seven days a week, in front of a computer screen testing each line of code in whatever software program he'd been given to debug, so it made sense there'd be some amount of eye strain.

But lately it was happening all the time, and for some reason, it never occurred to him it might be nothing more than needing glasses. That was especially true since his distance vision was superb. He could clearly the difference between two tree branches from a hundred yards away and read most road signs from a half-mile off. But his near vision was failing him, and as he popped a couple of aspirin for the headache, he realized he could barely read the label.

"Great," he said as he put the bottle down.

When he looked up, everything beyond arm's length was crystal clear. But when he picked the bottle back up, and tried to read it, he realized it had been at least ten years since he'd had his eyes checked. And there'd been no reason to. His vision had been perfect at all distances. He was too young for presbyopia or so-called 'long arm vision' where people over 45 couldn't see things close up. That was caused by decades of eye muscle contractions and at some point the eye just couldn't do it any more; hence the blurriness.

So as much as he hated admitting it, the writing on the wall was pretty...blurry.

Dex Hall made most of his decisions on intuition. He was deeply rational and very mathematical, but once he felt something was 'right' he often made snap decisions. And over the course of his adult lifetime he'd been right almost all the time while keenly aware that 'almost' was very similar to 'rarely'.

After letting his eyes rest for a few minutes, he made a decision and grabbed his phone before realizing he didn't have an optometrist let alone the number for one stored in it. He went to his laptop because he had an open app he was working on on the desktop and started looking. Or...trying to look.

"Honey?" he called out.

His daughter came running and asked what was wrong.

He smiled then said, "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. But can you maybe help me find a phone number?"

"Sure!" she told him.

Addison's computer skills, along with her reading and spelling skills, were very good, and once he told her what he needed, she started reading off names of eye doctors along with how far away they were.

"Wait. The one closest to our house. Tell me that again, please?" he asked.

"Doctor Lee Andrews," she told him for the second time.

"That's good enough," he said, knowing pretty much anyone who'd made it through optometry training would be able to take care of his problem.

"Now can you dial his number for me?" her father asked as he handed her the phone.

Two minutes later, he had an appointment for 3:30 in the afternoon the day after tomorrow.

Knowing they'd want to dilate his eyes, he called his younger sister, Beth, to see if she'd mind driving them to the appointment.

"No. Of course not. I'm happy to help," she told him.

She'd been a lifesaver when Angie was ill and for several months after as she spent a ton of time with him and his late wife. He and Beth, who was two years his junior, had always been close. But since Angie's diagnosis, they'd become even closer, and she'd been a kind of surrogate mom for Addison.

"Thanks, BB," he told her using her childhood name. She hated it, but she let her brother—and only her brother—use it and only since the reason for Angie's illness became known.

Dex forced himself back in front of the computer an hour later and worked until he couldn't stand it anymore. The following day, his eyes felt better in the morning, but by 10am, he had another headache and had to knock off for a couple of hours.

By the day of his appointment, he found himself unable to work more than two hours total so he laid in his recliner until Beth showed up at three o'clock.

It was a five-minute drive to the optometrist, and Beth was doing nearly all the talking with Addison occasionally making a quick reply. That wasn't unusual, but his sister was even more loquacious than normal, and Dex realized that might only seem to be the case because he wasn't saying much. Addison wasn't a big talker, either, so whatever the cause, Beth was in rare form that day.

"So do you think it is?" he finally heard.

"What's that?" Dex said when he realized his sister was talking to him.

"Do you think this could be serious. You know, like Angie."

"Oh. No. I can't imagine. Is it possible? Sure, most things are possible. But the odds are astronomically against it."

"Okay, but odds don't mean much if it is."

He opened his eyes then looked at his sister then back at his daughter and wondered how Beth could be so insensitive. But that's the way she was so he answered her.

"I'm fine. I just need reading glasses or something," he said as authoritatively as he could to keep his daughter from worrying.

"Well, you are getting up there," Beth teased.

Dex had closed his eyes again but forced one open to see her looking at him with a silly grin on her face.

"Okay. We're here," she announced just seconds later. "Do you need me to have them bring out a wheelchair for you or anything?"

"Ha-ha," Dex said as he pushed his door open.

Beth had worn glasses since she was ten, so as Dex checked in, Addison joined her aunt as she went to look at frames. Hers were dated and the thought of getting a new pair appealed to her even though she knew she wouldn't spend the money. Besides, she needed an exam anyway so there was no chance she could get new frames even if she was willing to shell out the cash.

She saw a woman a few years younger than her working with a pretty teen girl who was getting her first pair of glasses.

"See! That's not so bad, is it?" she told the younger girl who was worried sick about looking like some kind of geek or freak.

"Wow. No. They're not bad at all," the girl replied as she checked herself out in the mirror.

"I told you they'd look good on you," the woman, whose name was Kayla, told her with a smile.

Beth couldn't help but join in and said, "They really do look great on you."

The girl turned around and smiled and said, "Thank you."

Addison told her they were 'cute' but the teen ignored her as she kept looking at Beth until she asked if something was wrong.

"No. It's just that your face is so clear! I can see every little wrinkle and line!" the girl said as she pointed to the corner of one of Beth's eyes.

She turned back around, clueless at how badly her words had stung, and the woman helping her gave Beth a sympathetic look but didn't say anything. Beth slid over in front of a mirror and smiled and there they were—those hideous, heavy lines around her eyes. And at the age of 33 no less!

"It's not true, Aunt Beth," Addison said quietly, even though she knew it was because they'd been there for a couple of years and were getting worse by the day.

Still looking in the mirror, Beth noticed someone else come in from behind her, and that meant she had to work there because there was no other way to get there except from the area where they adjusted glasses and kept incoming and outgoing orders. She must have been in there taking care of orders and just noticed there was another customer.

Beth saw the woman smile at the girl with the new glasses then tell her they looked great.

"Thank you!" the girl said as she continued to stare at the other woman.

Beth turned around slowly and could tell the 'new' woman was older than all of them, but she was by far the most attractive of anyone there.

"Now in her case I can't really see any lines," the girl said as Beth watched her staring at this new woman whose name tag said 'Mercedes'.

"Another freak of nature," Beth said to herself as a strong wave of envy washed over her.

She couldn't tell the woman's age, but she guessed her to be around 42 which meant she was close to 10 years older than her yet her very pretty face looked younger. If that wasn't enough, she had a body that made Beth queasy.

"Great hair, face, body, smile. I hate you!" Beth said to herself.

Just as she was thinking that thought, Addison said to her, "She's very pretty."

The woman heard, turned to Addison, who smiled at her, then said, "Thank you, sweetheart. You're very pretty, too."

Her smile was gorgeous, and Beth rolled her eyes before turning around again, pretending to look at frames while steaming over the fact she was never told she was pretty. She wasn't 'ugly' by any means, she was just an average woman who wasn't aging well at all and it ate her constantly. Having it pointed out, and brutally so, by a cute teenager was just pouring salt into an open, festering wound.

Mercedes's hair was just below chin length, shiny, and very dark. Her eyes were a beautiful hazel color, and her very white teeth were...perfect.

Beth had been 'shortchanged' in the boob department, as well, and wore an 'A' cup bra only to make herself feel like she had boobs. Mercedes most definitely did not have that problem, either.

"Probably fake," she said to herself. "Like her perfect white teeth. Bet those are some expensive ven..."

"Hey, whatcha lookin' at?" Dex said, coming up from behind her, and startling Beth so badly she made a loud noise.

All heads turned to look as Beth ignored them and spun around. Addison giggled but didn't say anything as her aunt slapped her dad's upper arm, mostly out of personal frustration and envy.

"Dexter Hall! What is wrong with you!" she said as she hit him.

"I think I'm farsighted but I'll find out pretty soon, I'm sure," he said without so much as a smile.

The younger woman laughed and Mercedes smiled, and Beth knew why. Her brother was genuinely funny in that dry kind of way, and he'd also won the genetic lottery while she'd gotten the leftovers. If he did have to wear glasses, it would be the first imperfection in his otherwise perfect life, and yet something told her he'd look great in glasses, too.

Beth immediately felt guilty when she thought about just how unlucky her brother had been where Angie was concerned, and that caused her to tell him she was sorry.

"Find anything?" he asked, letting her slap and apology go unanswered, as he began looking for himself.

"No. I kind of got sidetracked," his sister told him. "Besides. Look at the prices on these things!"

She pointed to one and read the tag. "$450. For one pair of frames!"

She did that for three others, to include a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses, knowing that was no big deal for her brother who also had optical insurance on himself and his daughter before Dex said, "Yeah. I had no idea they cost so much."

He moved over to the men's frames when Mercedes walked up. She waited until Dex noticed her then smiled and spoke.

"Good afternoon. Could I help you with anything?"

Dex had noticed her but not really seen her yet.

He'd turned his head around to say, "Sure," and when he did she was maybe two feet away.

He not only didn't say anything he turned completely around to look at her.

"Hi," he finally said after standing there and staring for several seconds.

"Hello," she replied with that perfect smile of hers.

"I'm Dex. Hall," he told her in a way that sounded goofy as though he wasn't used to talking to an attractive woman.

"Nice to meet you Mr. Hall. I'm Mercedes Berman. Can I show you any frames or maybe help you decide?"

He managed not to stare, but this woman was...wow!

"Um...sure. I'm suddenly having all kinds of problems seeing things up close, so I'm guessing I've become farsighted."

"You're clearly too young to need reading glasses," she told him matter of factly then reached for the pair hanging around her neck. "Unfortunately, that's not the case for me."

Dex heard every word but they weren't making any sense, because the woman talking to him couldn't be more than five years or so older than him—if that, and presbyopia rarely hit anyone before their mid-40s.

"The eye changes shape sometimes for seemingly no reason, so that's very possible. Your cornea may have flattened making your eye shorter and changing the point where light focuses, but the doctor will let you know. In the meantime, let's see what works for your face which is very symmetrical, by the way," Mercedes explained with a warm smile as Dex tried to pay better attention.

"Oh, my God! She's hitting on him!" Beth said to herself even though Mercedes was most definitely not. She'd only recently been hired and very much needed this job, so there was no way she was going to flirt with any customer, but especially one wearing a wedding ring with a daughter in tow.

Addison knew her father was a handsome man and had often said she was going to marry him when she grew up. She was old enough now to know that wasn't allowed, but still too young to be creeped out by it. Even so, she thought her father was very good looking, and there weren't many women who would disagree. Her mom had been beautiful, too, and Addison was already a very cute girl, but again, too young to understand the significance.

"Is that a good thing?" Dex asked about her symmetry remark.

Mercedes laughed politely then said, "Yes. It's a very good thing. You have what I'd call a very masculine face with a square jaw so we want to find something to enhance that."

She started looking then looked at Dex, and with another smile, said, "Not that you need enhancing."

Beth made a face and stuck her tongue out at Mercedes after she turned back around, and said to herself, "Unlike me, you don't need to be...enhanced."

Addison saw it and giggled but didn't say anything.

"Okay. How about these?" Mercedes asked as she unlocked a pair with rims across the top but rimless along the bottom.

Dex tried them on, and almost immediately said, "These look fine."

He turned toward Beth and Addison, and his sister rolled her eyes again before saying, "Gee. Big surprise. They're perfect."

"You look very handsome, Daddy," Addison told him with a smile.

"But do I look any smarter?" he asked in his normal, deadpan way as he tried to strike a pose the assumed made him look intelligent.

"You look...distinguished," Mercedes told him, making sure not to cut the little girl off.

"Yes! Thank you. That's the word I wanted. Distinguished!" Addison told her.

Addison had won Spelling Bees for both her class and her entire grade two years running and had a very large vocabulary for someone her age. She wasn't pretentious, she was just smart, and like her father, there wasn't anything she could do about it any more than she could change the looks with which she'd been gifted.

"Well, that was easy," Dex said. "If I need glasses, I'll take these," he told Mercedes.

"All right. I'll hold them for you until you're done with your exam," she said politely as he handed them to her.

"Thank you," Dex told her. "I'm hoping I don't, but I suppose it's inevitable."

Mercedes turned to look down the hallway as though she was concerned about getting in trouble for something then moved a bit closer and said, "Have you considered LASIK? It would allow you to avoid glasses."

While she was speaking, a man in his mid-50s stepped out of an exam room holding a chart. Dex correctly guess that was the optometrist who gave Mercedes a look as Dex said, "No. Maybe I should look into that."

The eye doctor handed the chart to Mercedes then said, "Please make sure Mr. Weston here gets taken care of."

Dex wasn't sure what was going on, but it sounded like tension.

"Right away, Doctor Andrews," she said.

She smiled but it was strained, adding credence to Dex's observation.

A few minutes later the receptionist called his name, and he asked Addison if she wanted to come with him or sit with her aunt.

"I'll stay out here," she told him.

"Okay. I'll just be a few minutes."

She led him to two different rooms where conducted some basic tests then took him to the exam room he'd seen the doctor come out of and let him know the doctor would be with him shortly.

Dex sat there in the chair and looked around. The equipment all seemed the same to him as it did the last time he'd his eyes checked so he closed them and waited.

About three minutes later the optometrist came in, said hello, and introduced himself then called Dex 'Dexter'.

"Nice to meet you, Doctor Andrews. And I go by 'Dex' if you don't mind."

"Oh, okay. Just like the TV show, right?" he said with a smile.

"Yes, except that I'm not a sociopathic serial killer," Dex replied referring to the television series Dexter that ran on Showtime for eight years.

"Ah, right. Well, that's a good thing," the doctor said. "Okay, I see you're having some trouble with your near vision. Let's take a look and see what's going on, but before we do, let's get your eyes dilated so I can make sure everything is healthy."

Just as he'd assumed, Dex was indeed farsighted. Just as Mercedes predicted, his cornea had flattened making the eyeball shorter, and that was the reason he was having so much trouble.

"It's an easy fix," Dr. Andrews told him. "I noticed you were looking at frames. Did you find anything that interested you?"

Before he could answer, the optometrist leaned closer then said, "Other than Mercedes."

"Oh. Um...right," Dex replied. "Yes, she's not hard to look out with or without glasses."

"Well, don't be fooled. She's not interested. Lord knows I've tried," he told him as he entered Dex's prescription. "She's as cold as ice, my friend."

"She mentioned LASIK. Is that an option for me?"

The eye doctor stopped moving then after a pause that lasted for several seconds said, "Um...yes. Of course."

"So I don't have to get glasses, right?" he asked out of simple curiosity.

"Well, no. You don't have to, but I think they're a great solution for your hyperopia."

He used the medical term to try and make the need to get 'help' right away seem more serious to preclude Dex from changing his mind. He'd already had the exam, and that was money in the bank, so to speak. But he made a good share of his money off of the orders his patients made after leaving the exam room, as his business got a cut on the cost of the frames and the lenses.

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bykomrad1156© 10 comments/ 37277 views/ 37 favorites

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