Contact lenses are dime-sized pieces of clear plastic (one atom thick, easily dislodged) that are given to people specifically because they have vision problems. Think about that.
An eye doctor's big diagnostic finale is to go, "How about this one and this one? This one and this one? But what about this one ... and this one?" Just tossing up lenses until you tell the doctor what your own glasses prescription should be. In what other medical field would that be acceptable? Imagine a dentist holding a drill in your mouth and going, "This one or this one?"
Before you even begin discussing the quality of your vision, you're subjected to a series of tests that seem primarily designed to determine what you're willing to put up with. And, by the way, why all the crazy tests, if in the end I just decide my prescription? You didn't realize it, but that was a great segue, because the reason we're really here is to talk about the worst test of all: the puff of air. They call it a puff so you picture a baby rabbit and let your guard down. And while it may feel like a puff on your hand or even your cheek, it feels more like an air punch when your eyeball is receiving it. How does this help my vision?
It turns out the puff test, more formally known as non-contact tonometry, is for glaucoma. I don't know about you, but I can't even hold my eye open when I'm anticipating it, and as soon as the blast hits me I jump nearly out of my chair every single time. Assuming that reacting to the air puff is the point of the test, I propose that my inability to sit still before the puff even happens is proof that I don't have glaucoma. I seem to have the opposite of glaucoma, whatever that is.
The machinery that conducts this blast of air is called an auto tonometer, and it retails anywhere from $800 to thousands of dollars, depending, I guess, on whether the doctor is embarrassed about having an off-brand air puffer. Who knows what the cost of maintaining something like that is. These price points made me wonder about the nurse, who's there anyway and can blow puffs of air all day for no increase in costs. That's just good business, though she seemed put off when I suggested it.
So I did some research, because what else have I got going on? The machine works by shooting air at your eye and measuring the amount of pressure your cornea can take before it bends. Oh, so that's your "puff"? This explains why the nurse isn't a suitable substitute for the machine, but it raises even more questions about how in good conscience anyone can refer to this test with descriptors we rarely use outside of tissue commercials. The whole point of it is to literally bend your eyeball. Now I don't feel so embarrassed about jumping out of the chair when the air hits my eye, though I doubt that will be much consolation when security-camera footage of me ends up in some YouTube "Sissies at the Eye Doctor" supercut.
And, in the end, even that would obviously be better than not screening for glaucoma, which is very serious and can lead to blindness if not treated. At least I now know there is a point to the air puff, and a good one too. So go get puffed at least once annually, even though it's terrible. That's right, this whole screed was a PSA to remind you to get your eyes checked, and you fell for it you idiot. I suppose while we're all here I should take the time to request that the professional eye community (?) stop calling it an air puff. Maybe go with something like "glaucoma cornea bender" to set expectations a little more honestly.