It was my first visit to this eye doctor. Therefore, he chatted to break the ice as he examined my eyes. In the line of conversation, he casually asked, “Is this a bad day to dilate your eyes? You get a more thorough exam if you dilate them.”
Is there a good day to dilate your eyes?
I’m thinking a better question would have been: “Did you bring someone along who could drive you home?”
Either I have never before had my eyes dilated or old age is magnifying the effects of those drops, because, seriously, when I answered “yes” to his, again, casual question, “You know about dilation?” I merely remembered that I’d left my sunglasses in the car but then considered the flimsy, dark plastic, temporary shades he likely would give me.
That was my only question. When he answered in the affirmative to those shades, I easily agreed to the dilating drops.
“Today is fine,” I said.
I was wrong.
When he handed me a roll of paper with something brown inside and said the drops would wear off in four hours, I remained unfazed. I knew enough not to pick out new glasses as I couldn’t see, but I didn’t think that inability would hinder me once I donned the proffered “sunglasses,” which I wasn’t about to wear in the mall where I had my appointment. I headed toward the exit, roll in hand, confident.
Ooowwww! Bright light! Too bright! Must. Protect. Eyes.
Without really seeing, I tried to make sense of the apparent roll of brown film the doctor had provided.
The shades were not the cardboard-edged, glasses-like flimsy shades I expected. These resembled a piece of camera film with a space cut out for my nose. I tried putting them over my glasses. Fail. I held them in place with my hand, using my other hand as a visor. I got into my car, which was parked under a tree, and placed my real sunglasses on my nose. Still not enough darkness to comfort my searing eyes. At the first traffic light, in utter misery, I finally put the film directly over my eyes and placed my sunglasses on top. Behind the two layers of darkness, my eyes stopped screaming but still didn’t really focus.
I envisioned myself being pulled over and given a DWD (driving while dilated), having my hands cuffed and my license suspended merely because I’d had an eye exam. However, I made it home without incident, and then. tried to close my unseeing eyes for a nap.
Sleep wouldn’t come.
I got out of bed and found I could do nothing of consequence due to my blurred vision. No reading, no computing time, and not even TV—because my teen had changed the settings and I couldn’t see the TV remote clearly enough to change them back. I dialed my mother; she didn’t answer. I hinted and whined in an attempt to garner my husband’s help or sympathy.
I got neither.
I felt sorry for myself. (And sipped hot tea while nibbling buttered popcorn and pretending to admire the fuzzy nature I “saw” outside my living room window.)
I thought, “If I ever lose one of my five senses, I hope it is not my eyes.”
I waited dejectedly for the four hours of dilation to expend themselves.
Dilating the eyes helps the doctor to see the interior structures of the eye and determine eye health. Instead of peering through a peephole into my eye, with the help of chemicals, the doctor gets to look through a much larger round window. The better he sees, the better chances he has to discover anything amiss. Unfortunately, time, not the doctor, allows that enlarged window to regain normal size—or, rather, regain the ability to control the amount of light it allows to enter the eye. Getting your eyes dilated at 2:30 p.m. on the clearest day in the peak of summer isn’t the best idea, even if you use enough forethought to bring another driver.
But it wasn’t my failure to plan accurately that made this incident blog-worthy. It was my inability to see, my desire to see clearly, my need to protect myself from light while at the same time needing light to see clearly. It made me think of God and His Word.
The Bible is filled with metaphors and similes, literary devices that create word pictures to help us better understand truth. (Trust me, I’m an English teacher.) Light is mentioned 244 times in the Bible—as good, as God, as Jesus Christ, as the Church, as life itself, and as knowledge in the Word of God.
When my eyes were dilated, looking at light was excruciating. It reminded me of Moses, who though in the presence of God had to be shielded from His full glory (Exodus 33:22). Or Paul’s message to Timothy, when he described God as “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Even with the flimsy temporary sunglasses given me by the eye doctor combined with my sunglasses, I couldn’t bear to look at the light. God’s presence is so bright, so amazing, that we cannot look directly at it or we would die (Exodus 33:20). I felt I would do permanent damage to my sight should I look at the light without protection.
As my eyes started to return to normal (which took me six hours, not four), I experimented a bit. I found that when I removed the dark film, I could see more clearly, but it hurt. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my sight in the future and so kept the film over my eyes as long as I could make myself, but I was hungry to see.
That hunger to see reminded me of the hunger I should have for the Word of God—both Jesus Christ (John 1) and the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21). I can’t possibly live the life God calls me to live without first encountering the presence of Jesus Christ, without first pursuing His Word. That is the light that makes me see clearly.
So is there a good day to get your eyes dilated? (Maybe on the day we have a solar eclipse?) Perhaps not. But it serves a purpose for your eye health—and, for me, it served a purpose for my soul health as well.