This is the history of eye care. It all started eons ago. You will recall that an eon is a large quantity of beer. Eons ago, the world was full of water, kind of like my bladder after an eon or two.

The first single-celled organisms developed a tiny little organelle that sensed light, and these rudimentary creatures began to move to the lightwhat we now call Florida. This is when the first State Board was created to keep all the other single-celled organisms from moving to Florida to practice.

Something miraculous occurred when these creatures developed two light-sensing organelles. It meant the creatures had stereopsis. They could now see more and do more, leading to strain, blur and rudimentary glasses. This led to the need for ears so they could have something for their glasses to hurt, but the birth of audiology is another story altogether.

These two-organelled cells with sore ears washed up on newly-forming shorelines, driving up real estate prices. To survive, they banded together into what they called vision plans so that they could pay hundreds of dollars a year to save $2 a multipack.

Somewhere in the world, the first speck flew into the first eye. This wasnt easy, as the average speck at that time was 20 cubits across and weighed some 4,000 pounds. It was removed in what we now refer to as the first eye surgery, in which the afflicted creature was separated from the speck after the aspiring physician applied an anesthetic with a 50lb. rock of proparacaine over the afflicted creatures head. The beast that removed the speck enjoyed doing it so much that he decided surgery was his purpose in life, and he became the first barber. Of course, we now know that its a much greater leap from optometrist to surgeon than from barber to surgeon. Ask the AAO.

Offices formed. These were staffed by unsmiling beings with many powers. For example, they could cause patient charts to vanish. They could make a patient flee by merely answering the question, How much is an eye exam?

In these early days of eye care, vision was important since one needed to recognize a predator from far enough away to be able to run and hide. Everyone was farsighted except the guy who painted the cave walls. He was nearsighted and was the earliest nerd. On the other hand, he stayed at home with all the women while the farsighted patients went on a never-ending quest for food, water and surgery for presbyopia. Funny how all the kids were nearsighted too.

Governments developed to protect the weak. In fact, the weak got in charge pretty quickly. They were considered smart, probably because they wore glasses, except of course during election years when they wanted to look young.

The masses needed to see. Ophthalmologists were still cutting hair when the first optometrist rose from the muck. It was a match made in heaven. We had hair, and they were barbers. The lines have blurred since then, I guess.

Anyway, this started what is sometimes referred to as The Invasion of the Eyeball Snatchers. It didnt take long for two-eyed amoebas to learn that O.D.s knew more about seeing than anyone else. And, our offices were closer to their work and their homes. And we did not schedule 50 patients for one 9 a.m. appointment. Most important of all, we were not horses behinds. At least, most of us werent.

The history of eye care continues. People need to see. We help them do that. What is ahead? One can only guess. Me? I think it will be eyes in the back of our head. The barbers of eye care need not fear. Someone will be needed to clip a hole to see through.

Vol. No: 141:09Issue: 9/15/04