In answer to my last post regarding writing letters, I have prepared the following as a response to the sample patient letter I composed. Fellow optometrists, I encourage you to have a stack of these handy so that you’re prepared when a patient hands you the previously typed letter. I do accept monetary donations.
Dear [patient name],
I appreciate your forethought in preparing the letter you have given me, which outlines your concerns about your eyes. It takes a person with a large amount of [intelligence, kindness, good looks] to come up with such a well-worded document. Anyway, let’s talk about your eyes.
You may take this as an indication of your age, but I recommend a [bifocal, trifocal, prosthetic eye]. I know this kind of thing is not good for your vanity, but I’m an optometrist, not Tim Gunn. We have many different choices in spectacle frames, however, and I’m sure you can find something that makes you look [distinguished, flirty, other adjective]; that is, until your glasses inevitably get [lost, broken, eaten by the dog or vice versa]. In which case it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and buy a second pair as well. Hey, seeing well and looking good ain’t cheap.
All health-related aspects regarding your eyes look good, although your ocular surface looks a little dry; I recommend [Restasis, artificial tears, looking up when it rains]. Your eyes don’t feel dry, you say? They actually water all the time and are the exact opposite of dry? Well, believe it or not, it’s possible that your eyes water because they are dry – this is a common occurence in people with dry eye syndrome; basically the tears your eyes are producing are [not of good quality, not coating your eye properly, crocodile tears].
I did not see any signs of serious ocular diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, although you do you have very early cataracts forming. Not to worry, as these are generally very slowly progressive and at worst will only cause you to have trouble with [reading, glare, thinking your spouse is attractive (kind of like nature’s beer goggles)]. When the time is right and you feel like your vision is no longer acceptable to the point that you can no longer perform everyday tasks, then we can talk about referring you to the local ophthalmologist’s [office, clinic, van] for cataract extraction.
Oh, I can see as you’re reading this that you have to hold the paper pretty far out from your face; either you are presbyopic or the paper just smells really bad. If it’s the former, the bifocals I prescribed earlier will help; if it’s the latter, it’s probably because our paper is made from [recycled products, card stock, Soylent Green] kind of like those old Weekly Readers from grade school. Remember those? God did those things reek.
In summary, you should be good to go until your next annual eye exam, and I do mean annual, rather than the decade-long gap since the last time you were here. Speaking of which, you should probably dispose of the trial pair of contact lenses that we gave you at that last visit; they’re probably a little [protein-deposited, worn out, nah nevermind they’re fine]. Call me if you need anything, otherwise I’ll SEE you then! Haha, eye doctor humor!
To all of you optometrists out there who read this, see if you can get me an honorary Fellowship in the Academy for this great service I have provided you; writing case reports is so overdone. And besides, what good does yet another case report do? Either it reinforces previously known treatment protocol or it presents such a rare variation that no one will ever see such a thing again. (What you’ve just witnessed is me justifying the fact that I’m writing on a blog rather than writing case reports.)
Like any doctor-patient relationship, communication is key. And nothing communicates how much you care about your patient like a letter typed by a stranger on the internet. So until next time, keep it real.