Friday, April 1, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I heard it this morning on NPR: the success of Avatar has paved the way for a future in which movies, TV, billboards, and computer screens will all be 3-D. Receiving data in a mere two dimensions will soon be totally outmoded. Only problem: those pesky 3-D glasses.

But help is on the way. It seems a San Diego ophthalmologist has devised a surgical technique to reshape the eye so that it is receptive to 3-D images, without benefit of glasses. It’s still in the experimental stage, but there are already some satisfied customers.

The news item startled me. After all, in December I underwent eye surgery of my own, to remove from the rear of my left eyeball what is known in the trade as an epiretinal membrane or macular pucker. (So many names for the same disturbing condition, which clouded my vision and gave me the sense of seeing life through a veil.) It’s not that the surgery was painful. Actually, as an eye doctor will be the first to tell you, eyes don’t feel pain under surgical conditions. It was more the anticipation of a doctor cutting into my eye, tinkering with the precious organ that allows me to see the world.

Fortunately, all went well. (Thanks, Dr. Hanscom!) The scariest moment actually came the day after the surgery, when the patch that had covered my eye was removed and I found myself suddenly seeing double. I held up my left arm—all at once there were two of them, and I didn’t know which one was real. Then I looked across the room, and my husband had two heads. Somewhere in all that, there’s definitely a horror film waiting to be written. But I was relieved to learn that my double-vision was a normal, and blessedly temporary, result of the anesthetic that had kept my eye muscles in place during the procedure. Within hours, I was my old self again, only better.

Still, when I heard that news brief, I couldn’t quite fathom why anyone would voluntarily undergo eye surgery for the sake of dumping the 3-D glasses. That’s when the skeptic in me finally began to awaken. That enthusiastic woman on the radio who described the after-effects of the surgery: what was it she’d said? Oh yes, “Seeing Gnomeo and Juliet without those horrible glasses was life-changing.” That’s when it dawned on me. I’d been had. After all, it was April 1, and you shouldn’t believe everything you hear, even if it has the imprimatur of National Public Radio.

Happy April Fool’s Day!


  1. Nice to hear your surgery went well, Beverly. I've seen a couple of the recent onslaught of 3D movies and enjoyed the effect. It didn't really bother me outside of a couple instances where I had to take a couple seconds to re-adjust my vision.

    In regards to the horror script potential, I see a possible remake/re-imagining of Corman's great Ray Milland Sci Fi classic, X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES (1963)!

  2. You're right, X: The Man With X-Rays is a real classic. Too bad that the shocker ending Tarantino described as the one Roger wanted -- in which Milland's character plucks out his eyes but discovers he can still see -- was nixed by the good folks at AIP.

  3. Funny stuff! I love that all radio stations seem to get carte blanche to pull off the biggest April Fool's jokes they can conceive of - and no one ever seems to get too upset, as usually happens these days - you would expect someone to start a class action lawsuit or call for the DJ to be fired. Maybe they don't because no one wants to publicly admit they fell for one...congrats on the surgery - thrilled it went well for you!

  4. Thanks for your good wishes, Craig. Actually, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my surgery I actually went under the knife again to have a cataract removed. (It seems that when you start messing with your eye, the development of a cataract is inevitable. Aargh!) Anyway, I suspect radio stations are careful to avoid any April Fool's joke that makes people go out and do something they're better off avoiding. In the case of NPR and the gag I mentioned, there was no way for the listener to actually follow through. You make an interesting point, though.