Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Yearning for Drops

“I’ve been using them for a week, and the eye is getting worse.”

Hearing this over the phone, I’m usually not concerned. While there’s always the possibility of severe disease, the odds are that the eyedrops themselves have begun to irritate the eye.

Sure enough, that was my diagnosis. If you see a doctor with an eye problem, he’ll prescribe drops whether or not you need them. Many types of “pinkeye” don’t require treatment, but doctors believe (correctly) that patients with eye problems take for granted that they need drops.

Most people will not argue with a doctor, but it was clear (in retrospect) that the guest didn’t like what he heard. I told him to stop the drops and that the eye would feel better in a few days.

He was thinking:  “I have pinkeye, but this doctor says I don’t need drops. Obviously that’s because he doesn’t know what drops I need. I have to find a smarter doctor.”

When I phoned the next day I learned that he had gone off to an ophthalmologist.

This happened a long time ago. Nowadays I tell guests to use a harmless over-the-counter drop until the eye feels better.

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