1. You start collecting everything that has an eye chart or glasses on it
Even before hipsters or the “nerd look” became cool, optometrists have always been on the lookout for glasses everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of us have owned an optometry mug or two at some point. Just how many shirts with glasses on it could I need in my lifetime? I don’t know, but what I DO know is that I will probably spend a good portion of my savings on optometry-related pieces for my wardrobe. I almost bought a bottle of wine with an eye chart on it, and I don’t even drink wine. I have at least four rings with glasses of different styles and colors. My roommate has earrings with an eye chart on them. It’s an addiction, I don’t know how to stop it, but I am secretly quite proud of it.
2. TV isn’t the same anymore
I was watching “House” and noticed that Dr. Foreman was holding an ophthalmoscope funny. Silly Dr. Foreman, his finger should be on the dial so he can focus on the optic nerve! Even while we watch “Friends,” in the episode where Rachel goes to see the eye doctor (Google Rachel at the Eye Doctor for the video), you’ll notice the optometrist uses a slit lamp and pretends it can deliver a puff of air. Things I could overlook as a naive first year can no longer escape me. I noticed I started getting satisfaction from correctly guessing what ailments the characters had. I distinctly remember yelling at the TV, “THIS GUY HAS A TIA!” (transient ischemic attack) right before the doctor diagnosed the same thing. Sure, all my non-optometry school friends have no idea what I just said out loud (a little too loud), but hey, I felt pretty smart. I don’t think I could get much more nerdier than that. I guess that’s one way to apply the knowledge I learned at school.
3. Free time isn’t what is used to be
Before optometry school, “free time” meant I could do whatever I want without a care in the world. Now that I’m here, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve skipped classes sometimes–but only to study for other classes. I even caught myself saying the other day, “I’m so glad we don’t have class anymore, now I can focus on studying for boards.” I thought I would have more free time as a third year, but I found myself finding “free time” to catch up on more studying, or laundry I didn’t have time to do during finals. We’re so busy with our schedules jam-packed with classes, work, clinic, tests, and practicals, it’s a constant struggle to find time to do non-school related things.
4. Online shopping
If you didn’t have an online shopping addiction, you’ll probably get one in optometry school. I got so busy this quarter, I even started buying everyday household items like Kleenex on Amazon. Students get six months of Amazon Prime for free, it only takes two days to deliver whatever I want with less tax and I don’t even have to change out of my sweatpants. If you order little things often enough, you lose track of what you order and each time you receive a package, it becomes a happy little surprise for that week. If I get a bad grade on a test, I shop for retail therapy, and if it’s a good grade, it’s my reward to myself for a job well done. It’s always a win, except for my credit card statement.
5. Toys for optometrists
Everybody loves new gadgets. I remember being super ecstatic to pick up my BIO and purple Volk lenses with my name engraved on them. I would have finished buying all our required equipment by now, but sometimes I can’t help but find cute things I can use in clinic. For example, when I went to Mexico for a mission trip, I bought these adorable hand-painted animal-shaped bookmarks because I could potentially use them as a near target for kids. I even bought a separate set of colorful plastic trial frames for the extra fidgety children so they don’t have to wear a heavy piece of metal while we give them lenses to try (see top photo). I find myself constantly buying items that will potentially improve my eye exams.
6. Optometry jokes
I don’t know if it’s a professional requirement to relate everyday events to optometry, but I’m sure all of us have done just that. A good example is Bob Costas: Before ICO, I probably would have just focused on the fact that this poor man had to go on national TV with such a horrible eye infection. Now, we all take turns trying to diagnose him, and there are hundreds of optometry memes and jokes about it. I don’t think anybody graduates from ICO without making at least one dumb optometry joke based on current events. Even if none of your non-optometry friends get it, your colleagues will laugh along with you.
7. Social Media
I still do selfies and OOTDs (outfit of the day). The only difference is, now I also use hashtags like #optometrystudent, #optometryschoolproblems and so forth. No optometry school social media junkie can can exclude what they’re doing for 90 percent of day. Now my OOTD is probably more likely to be what I wear with my clinic coat, or milestones from optometry school. And I’m always trying to decorate my pictures with as many pairs of glasses as I can.