The Drag Racer
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The Optometrist and the Drag Racer

It was the end of a rather busy day when one of my favorite and most loyal patients came in for his annual eye examination and a contact lens evaluation. He is one of the most intelligent and engaging people I’ve met in my forty-one years in practice; some appointments, I think I learn more from him than he does from me.

This patient is extremely myopic; i.e. he is very nearsighted. He can be found most weekends racing his dragster at the Atco Drag Strip. He wins far more races than he loses! He drives like he is … smart.

He wears soft contact lenses to enhance his peripheral vision most of the time, especially when he is racing. He is meticulous about scheduling his annual eye exams and contact lens check-ups. He always elects to be my last patient of the day because he loves our give and take at his annual visits to my office. My staff generally brings snacks, anticipating a late night, when they see this patient’s name in my appointment book.

In any event, he came in for his Thursday night appointment, and we got right into it. We talked and talked about anything and everything. Finally, there was only one more thing that needed to be done … a dilated examination of his retinas. He demurred when I informed him that it was time to dilate his pupils, “Let’s skip the dilation this year; I’m hungry and it’s late.”

Knowing the nature of his near-sighted and stretched eyes, I refused to give in to his pleas for relief from the dilation. I put the drops in his eyes, and we talked as we waited for the medication to do its thing and dilate his pupils. Success, at long last! The pupils popped open, I positioned him in my examination chair, reclined the chair, and I began to scan his retinas with my binocular indirect ophthalmoscope. Lo and behold, and to my great surprise and dismay, what did I find, a honking retinal tear. So picture this; it’s late, he and I are both exhausted, and now we have to deal with a serious retinal pathology.

I broke the news to my friend and put him on notice that I needed him to be camped-out on the front stoop of a retinal surgeon friend of mine at 8:00 A.M. the next morning. I called the retinal specialist early Friday morning and gave him a heads-up regarding what I had witnessed the night before in my patient’s retina. The retinal surgeon got down to business, found the locus of the problem, efficiently repaired the damage in his retina with a laser, and sent him home to have his lunch.

End of story: On Saturday night, my patient drove his dragster at the Atco Dragway; if memory serves me, he came in first place!

Four County Family Eyecare, founded in 1973 by Optometrist Dr. Michael S. Cohen, is located in Berlin, New Jersey. Dr. Cohen offers vision and eye exams, eye glasses, contact lenses, Lasik consultation and pre-screening for patients in Berlin, New Jersey, Williamstown, NJ, Hammonton, Atco, and Sicklerville as well as Voorhees, NJ Cherry Hill, Pine Hill and Lindenwold.

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