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Sun, Sept. 22

Piacenza: The eyes have it

A recent article in the Courier featured my ophthalmologist, Dr. Jon Bundy, who was a competitor on the “American Ninja Warrior” television program. For the show, he was tagged with the moniker “The Eye Ninja”. Not only did Dr. Bundy show off his physical prowess but also demonstrated something I’ve known about him for a while: his compassionate viewpoint.

As the article explained, Dr. Bundy competed on behalf of some of his patients who have never been to the United States, no less Prescott:

“Bundy provides eye care for a nonprofit that fights human trafficking and used his opportunity to try out for ‘American Ninja Warrior’ as a fundraiser for the nonprofit, raising $10,000 that went to building a school.”

On my first visit to Dr. Bundy, I was intrigued by a photo slideshow that was displayed in the exam room. Along with his wife and children in local settings, elephants, women in saris and various exotic-looking locations appeared and led me to ask him where he’d been traveling. That’s when I learned of his philanthropic work in southeast Asia, where he’s been donating his time to provide ophthalmic services to patients who would otherwise continue to suffer with debilitating eye conditions.

For several years now, Dr. Bundy has been tracking a potentially serious eye condition I have. He delivers the latest results of my exams with a “chair-side manner” that balances no-nonsense, clearly explained information with a light and empathetic attitude. I’m sure problems like mine pale in comparison to some of the things he’s encountered in his charitable work, and I think that perspective makes him an even better practitioner.

Every visit ends with checking to see if my glasses prescription needs to be changed. As I peer through eye-pieces at a chart, the doctor slips in different strength lenses, asking “Is this one better ... or this one?”. In some cases, it can be a tough call to pick the lens that allows me to see better. In some cases, it’s instantly obvious.

The eye test, like Dr. Bundy’s pro bono work, reminds me that I have a choice in how I see the world. Having to choose between two pleasant activities can be like looking through those two very similar lenses: I go back and forth between the options even though the choice won’t have very serious consequences. Sometimes, though I have a chance to look at things differently and potentially more clearly, I’m reluctant to give up my current way of seeing things (“But I see fine through my old glasses!”).

Of course it’s important to see the facts, the objective state of things, as clearly as possible. But seeing just the bald facts — say, the number of homeless or the percentage living in poverty — is like reading the flat black letters on the eye chart. Choosing the lens of compassion provides a fuller picture, more complicated than on first glance, more full of possibilities, like the photos in Dr. Bundy’s exam room slide show.

I count myself — and our community — lucky to have both the doctor’s competent care and his compassionate example. I suspect that both increase the chances that my vision will continue to improve.

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