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The fading rug

By Sasha L Radford, OD

There was once an exquisite oriental rug on the parlor room floor of a small family home in the country. The rug was quite expensive and had adorned the room for many decades. Its owner took as much pride in its vibrant colors and complex patterns as she did in her grandchildren’s accomplishments. The lady protected the rug from spills and trampling feet and had it professionally cleaned on a regular basis to keep it in pristine condition.

Over the years, the rug’s owner began to notice that the rug was wearing out. The colors were no longer as bright as she remembered and the intricate patterns seemed to be fading. She felt disappointed.  Her family tried to comfort her, saying, “Mother, the rug is just as beautiful as always.” But she knew this was untrue.

One day the lady went away to the city for a short medical procedure. When she returned home she was tired from the journey so she used the prescribed medication and went to bed. The next day when she awoke, she strolled into the parlor in her bathrobe to find a brand new rug, brilliant in color, an exact duplicate of the rug she had so long loved and remembered!

She called her son to thank him for the gift, insisting it was too much – she knew it must have cost him a fortune! The son was dumbfounded, for he had not replaced the rug. So she called her daughter to thank her instead, it had to be her. But she, too, denied having replaced the rug.

The lady called other family members that day, too; she was determined to give thanks to the one who had given her such an extravagant gift. But one by one, her nieces, nephews, and grandchildren told her they had not replaced the rug. One granddaughter tried to poke fun at her by texting her a photo of a dress which was plainly white and gold but which the granddaughter insisted was black and blue.

Days later, the mystery of the rug still unsolved, the lady visited her optometrist for a check up. “How did your surgery go last week?” the eye doctor asked. “Oh it was fine,” the lady replied, “I was only there a few hours and the procedure was so quick I didn’t even know the surgeon had started until it was over!” The doctor told her that her eyes were healing very well and that her vision had improved a great deal now that her cataracts had been removed. Suddenly she had a thought.

“Doctor, do you think my cataracts could have affected my color vision?” she asked.

“Oh yes, of course!” the doctor replied.  “Cataracts not only make everything seem foggy but they tend to cause colors to wash out too. Blues and purples are especially difficult to see for people with the type of cataract you had, which causes the lens in the eye to become yellowish. Have you noticed that you can see colors so much better now?”

The lady smiled, thinking of the oriental rug. It had not failed her after all. It was as good as new. And so were her eyes. Her only regret was that she hadn’t had her cataracts removed sooner.

When the lady showed her optometrist the picture of the white and gold dress, hoping for an explanation as to why her granddaughter thought it was black and blue, the doctor droned on for several minutes about things like ambient lighting and visual perception and never did really say whether the granddaughter might have something wrong with her eyes. So she made her granddaughter an appointment to have an eye exam and went home to enjoy her rug all over again.