Your eyes

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR
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Dr. Phillips is a staff Neuroradiologist, Department of Radiology, Weill-Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is also a member of the editorial board of this journal.

As a vocation, we have a fairly incredible reliance on the visual chain. From the reception of the light and dark that make up an image (okay, color too… Yes, yes, yes, I know all about perfusion and fMRI—give me a break), to the associations that happen somewhere between the occipital cortex and your frontal lobes, we are a visual group. Please notice, I did not say voyeurs. Although……

Having made that observation, I can tell you with full and resolute truth that some of the best radiologists I have known were neglectful of the visual chain in a big way. An attending I had during my residency used to wear glasses which looked pretty much like he had thrown his breakfast at them, and wiped them off with pine needles. The resident staff used to say that as good as he was, if he had just cleaned his glasses, he could easily have seen God. I have to assume that the powers of observation and inference outweigh the visual acuity he experienced looking through those foggy, egg-smeared things. Another one of my favorite staff radiologists would view films from a 45° angle in bright light, and never miss a thing. He would point out a trace apical pneumothorax from
20 paces—at 45°— in full sunlight. Wow. How could one not be in awe of these folks?

This has come to mind because (shudder) I’m getting older, and my eyesight is now a victim of (double shudder) presbyopia. And don’t tell me you don’t have it. If you don’t, it is best to think of that as “I don’t have it yet.” I am wearing my first set of progressive lenses. A (clean and clear) badge of honor.

This came on me subtly, even though I am the crowned king of denial. My neck starting getting stiff. Often. And as much as I like the occasional massage, the neck just kept hurting. Finally, someone very close to me indicated something that I had not thought much of. “You are always looking over your glasses. Do you think that might have something to do with the neck pain?” Ha! Of course not! My arms are just getting a little short. I look intelligent looking over these glasses. No way. Well, crow is tough to eat. But, after a trip to the ophthalmology folks here, and a new (freaking expensive!) prescription, I have progressive lenses and no neck pain. They have been an adjustment. I was warned about curbs, and despite that, I almost found a way to break my foot on day one with the new glasses. I had to readjust PACS monitors. My working distance has improved, and I don’t wheel back and forth on the chairs quite as much. And, I’m happy once again. Do not be a cowboy. Take care of your eyes. Lloyds of London will be happy to write a big policy for you, if you’ve got the money to spend. Mahalo.

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Your eyes.  Appl Radiol. 

February 07, 2011

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