Eye Test…Red-Green-Yellow

Earlier this week, a friend fetched me to drive us in morning rush -hour traffic into the city for my test at the retinologist’s. We quaffed down  cups of coffee before setting off on an overcast grey day with lowering skies. Driving on grey concrete roads into neighbourhoods which look as if they were poorly developed black and white photographs of lacklustre tonality makes for an eerie experience. Of course, the overall greyness is punctuated with flashes of red from car brake-lights, but this felt like moving through a black and white video. We chatted and discussed family happenings on this trip.

My friend is a hockey and water-polo mom; she drives her two teenagers, all over the expanse of this largish city, to take them to their competition destinations. She made short work of taking the shortest route to the central medical area of hospitals, large clinics and doctors’ offices. My parking angel accompanied us, so parking was a breeze. We made our way across the street from the parking lot; she had me firmly grasped by the elbow and directed me to avoid curbs and other city walking pit-falls.

We entered a massive concrete building of about 18 floors in height. The elevator, that took us to the4th floor where the retinologist’s office was, had odd hardwood flooring on its walls, which felt slightly disorienting.

The doctor’s office was  very large, with a spacious waiting area separated by a divider from the receptionist’s space, also huge, backed by a wall of floor to ceiling files. The receptionist, my friend and I were the only people there. The walls in the waiting room were covered with many original artworks of fabulous coloration.  After we checked in, taken off our winter coats, my friend walked around looking at the artwork.  She’d say, “Come and look at this!”. So I’d climb up onto chairs  on my knees to get closer to the images hung on the wall. While we waited, we made our way around all the pictures, me with my nose an inch or so away form their surface, happily studying them. Imagine, to be enjoying an art gallery at a doctor’s office, particularly an office which serviced people with vision problems- this was a treat on such a grey morning!

After a short wait the technician came and ushered me into a pleasantly darkened room where the OCT and PAM tests were to be administered.  She did the usual eye test with the black spoon over either eye, where I did my usual best to minimize my poor vision, but in the end couldn’t fool the technician.  She caught me guessing letters and numbers. The tests were non-invasive, except for the drops in the eyes beforehand.

The OCT machine looked like R2-D2 in Star Wars movies, but it just sat there passively waiting for the chin and forehead to be rested in molded receptacles. The scan takes little time, but it is a spectacular experience.  A red flashing circle blinks off and on, every time it turns off a brilliant green afterimage circle takes its place.  This goes on for several seconds; then a string of yellow pin-points travels in straight lines and builds up a stellate pattern over the blinking red/green. This was amazingly beautiful, and I was actually happy to get both eyes tested in sequence, so that this light-show could continue.  The PAM test, also visually curious, held second candle to the marvels of the OCT test.

As we were putting on our coats to leave, my friend and I looked again at a beautifully-made water-colour illustration of musicians, in which the image was accompanied by Hebrew script from the Torah – a fragment of translation underneath expressed the joys of music and vision as God-given gifts.  We lingered…. then said our good byes.

Before leaving town to go home ahead of the afternoon rush-hour traffic, we slipped into a Thai reataurant and shared a dish of Nasi Goreng, deliciously spiced.  While paying for our meal, I spied a container full of colourful candy suckers by the till, and asked the waiter if I could take three suckers which he graciously permitted.  I selected a brilliant red one, it’s complementary green and finally a brilliant yellow one, and stuck them into my pocket.

While my friend and I settled into the car at the parking garage, I pulled out the three colourful suckers and presented them to her, saying, “Look through each of these against the light – these are the three marvellous colours that appeared in my eye test which had me gasping with pleasure”.

On our way home, back to suburbia, the sun broke through the clouds.

7 Responses to “Eye Test…Red-Green-Yellow”

  1. Michèle Says:

    Fantastic ! You turned what could have been an unpleasant experience into a wonderful visual adventure !

  2. Dejan Says:

    Imagine, to be enjoying an art gallery at a doctor’s office, particularly an office which serviced people with vision problems- this was a treat on such a grey morning!

    Suburbia, your posts give me so much joy! 🙂 You should definitely write a book one day. An autobiography! I want you to autograph personally my copy of it 🙂

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I’m curious.
    When you saw that marvelous light show, was it crystal clear in your mind or was it foggy as your daily normal vision seems to be?
    I can remember those wonderful animated light shows that we used to see in film festivals in the 60’s – the first film experiments to either imitate hallucinations or to describe the fantastic vision one acquired on certain of the soft drugs that were available at that time.
    From those days, I remember someone saying that there were three kinds of colour – the additive (like what you see in everyday vision of this world around us) the subtractive, like what we see in photo slides, computers and film, and the colours you see inside your head.
    When I get headaches – migraine variety – one of the only benefits is that I can see beautiful colours swimming inside my head. Mostly these are a brilliant transparent violet colour edged with lime green and then the background is a blackish colour made up of red and green dots.

    So, coming back to my original question to you, since you are not seeing these colours through the lens of your eye, do you see these clearly. That is, is this phenomenon a result of how the optic nerve reads or transmits since it doesn’t seem to be what the lens is transmitting.
    Oy vey, I’m getting on dangerous ground here. I have no idea what I’m talking about in physiological terms.
    This is a lovely piece of writing, as always.

  4. suburbanlife Says:

    Thanks, all of you for the nice comments! LFB, I need to ask the retinologist about the physics of the OCT test, maybe he will take the time to give me a brief, understandable explanation. Or Not! Seeing him is like being a Campbell’s soup can on a conveyor belt – and I’m chicken noodle soup…

  5. suburbanlife Says:

    Oh, yes, there is also Google to check out!:-)

  6. Dejan Says:

    I read the other day interesting quote by german Impressionist Max Lieberman, he said:

    “The division of colour is all nonsense. I have just seen it once again. Nature is simple and grey.”

  7. suburbanlife Says:

    Ah, but Dejan; grey is complex and made up of many colours if you are painting – the greys we see can be predominantly yielding any kind of coloured greys, and we can clearly discriminate them. Play a game with yourself and play “What kind of coloured grey is this one?” It’s fun to do!

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