I started thinking of my intimate relationship with chairs and how they have impacted my career and my patients, whether they have just been sat upon, bought, sold, thrown through the occasional TV set and so on. Here are my thoughts:

1. Medical stools. I must have owned and used over 30 different stools in my 39 years of practice, and I’ve concluded that you must spend at least $300 to get one that is even close to worth a darn. No, you misunderstand. You must spend that much, not me. I always bought the cheap stuff that left me on the verge of constantly tipping over. This gave me something to gripe about other than crappy vision plans.

2. Reception room chairs. All of them ultimately lead to horror as they become, sooner or later, filthy and full of whatever deadly germs every person surely carries and their snotty children spread about as they eat chili dogs beneath the sign that says “Please, no food” while the mom taps away at her phone beneath the sign that says “Please, no cell phones.” Interestingly, I kept the same chairs in reception with a couple of re-upholsterings along the way. They were solid, made of real wood. They are still proudly sitting in the waiting room of my old practice. Using Kevlar for the upholstery was a good idea after all. 

3. Mom’s chair. This is the chair in the corner of the exam room for mom while her kid gets his eyes checked. If you saw a couple of inches off the front two legs it will at least seem like mom’s leaning forward with interest when you explain little Bobby’s astigmatism or, more importantly, why you don’t allow smoking in the exam room. 

4. Office chairs. Your staff needs to feel comfortable and important. A decent chair makes a huge difference in attitude. If you don’t get them a decent chair, you will be reminded all day as they groan, stretch, pop their spines and get nothing done. I really didn’t care if they got anything done, but I didn’t want to listen to the groaning, stretching and spine popping. After a couple months in the new, expensive chairs they will start griping again, so go ahead and order them some coccyx wedge pillows when you get a chance. 

5. The exam room chair. Patients like a chair that looks clean and modern and has no rips and holes in the cushions. Too bad they don’t make any like that. I guess that’s why they invented duct tape. 

 6. CE room chairs. They should be heated. That’s all I have to say about that. 

7. Your patient’s favorite chair. Progressive addition lenses (PALs) are one of the best advances in the history of eye care, right up there with prostaglandin analogs (PGAs). But at least the PGAs have a positive side effect when they make dad’s eyelashes pretty. The side effect of PALs is that dad can’t chill back in his lounger with a cold brew to watch the ball game. I am almost positive there is a spike in PAL non-adapts right after the Super Bowl. The future of favorite chairs does look bright, though, as the next generation either watches the game on some device in their lap or hangs their TV up above the fireplace, well out of the way of their near corridor and, coincidentally, in the exact spot that gives their aging optometrist father a permanent stiff neck. 

Look at your office’s chairs. Are they gross? As many butts have sat in them, they are a sign of true success in optometry—and an adventure in microbiology. Might be time to wipe ’em down at least, doc.