I have always believed that there are only two things you can actually count on in life. No, not death and taxes. Taxes? I pay them, but I don’t actually believe in them. Death? As a famous comedian once said, “I intend to live forever. So far, so good.” The two things: (1) Kohl’s is having a sale. (2) Nothing’s easy.

Now, (1) we can all agree on. For optometry, (2) has, shall we say, evolved.

“Easy” depends on the situation. I kind of remember the first time I tried a soft contact lens on a patient. I stuck a PMMA hard lens on one eye and that first available soft lens on the other. Guess which one the patient picked? Okay, I am man enough to admit that this was easy.

In those pre-tech days, nobody really cared if they could actually see through contact lenses as long as they did not have to wear glasses, which was, at the time, a sign of weakness until Elton John proved everyone wrong.

But 99% of the time, nothing’s easy. When we had one or two soft contact lenses, everyone loved them. Now we have hundreds and hundreds, and even I myself change my contacts a couple of times a day because there is always bound to be one that works better, right? Man, I only wish I knew a good eye doctor.

And what about collecting fees? After years of concentrated effort, I finally changed the policy at my late mentor and partner’s office. Patients now have to pay for their glasses by the time they pick them up instead of paying $5 every 90 days forever, which was his policy. That’s right. He’d send a 30- then a 60- then a 90-day notice, threaten them with collection and, if they sent him five bucks, start over! He told me we’d never be able to get patients to pay in full. I offered a 10% discount if they paid in full at the time of the order. Every old farmer in West Virginia whipped out a wad of hundreds and let them go! For a short while, okay, this too was easy.

Then along came vision insurance. Now, once again, in case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you that nothing’s easy. If you are an optometrist and are breathing, you know what I mean. Let’s not pick on anybody. Let’s just say that nothing’s easy and leave it at that.

Dr. Montgomery Vickers

Staff? We used to be friends. We used to exchange Christmas cards. They showed up on time. They smiled. They knew and loved every single patient, and every single patient loved them right on back. They loved their doctors and coworkers, too. Ahhh, so easy.

Now, nothing’s easy. I can’t remember the last time every single one of my staff members showed up on time. They used to crawl in the door even if they had two broken legs. Not anymore; times have changed, I tell ya.

“I found an ant on my front door and, I’m sorry, but I just can’t come in today.” Here’s what I have to say to that, “Why, that’s terrible! Tell you what, my wonderful staffer, take a week. In fact, take 52 weeks a year for the rest of your life. Good luck with your ant problem.” Point proven: nothing’s easy.

Yes, nothing’s easy. For the first three-fourths of my career, I recall time and time again observing something very unusual in a patient’s eye and thinking to myself, “Hmm, that’s something very unusual.” Then, the wonders of technology created elegant ways to scan the details of every single cell. Just by spending a few tens of thousands of dollars and upgrading my office hardware and software, I was convinced (by the delightfully persuasive and always handsome device sales team) that this would solve the mysteries of the eye. I would position the patient and, after a few seconds, immediately witness the beauty of technicolored, fantastical and utterly endearing multiple images that revealed the truth: that whatever I had observed was something very unusual indeed. Dare I say, nothing’s easy.

So, it’s best to just get it over with, admit it and move on. Say it with me now: nothing’s easy. Other than Amazon of course, but that’s a given.

Dr. Vickers received his optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1979 and was clinical director at Vision Associates in St. Albans, WV, for 36 years. He is now in private practice in Dallas, where he continues to practice full-scope optometry. He has no financial interests to disclose.