The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. ~ Matthew 6:22, NIV

“You better not let go of me or I’m gonna hit her!” The person he was talking to was me-the guy trying, for all he was worth, not to let go. The person was going to hit was my ophthalmology attending. The person speaking was a 35-year-old, 6’5″, 230-pound veteran soldier. This was how my ophthalmology rotation began at the beginning of my third year as a medical student.

The large man in the examining chair had reluctantly come into the clinic for an eye exam because of persistent pain and pressure in his eyes. Unfortunately, he had a severe phobia of anything touching his eyes. To the man’s horror, a tonometry test was required to measure his intraocular pressure. Even though drops are administered to numb the eyes, a probe must make direct contact on the cornea to accurately measure the pressure.

As the probe moved closer to the patient’s eye, he began to tremble uncontrollably and to grip the armrest of the chair so hard I thought it would buckle under his power. It was at this moment the patient volunteered for me to come behind the chair and hold him, before he knocked out my attending.

As my hands attempted to grip the man’s bulging biceps, I remember not only being concerned for my attending’s safety but also thinking to myself that probably the fastest way to fail a rotation was to allow your attending to be hurled across the room by your patient! I prayed for strength from above and kept holding. After what seemed like an unbearable amount of time, my attending calmly and professionally finished the exam. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

Although we may not harbor the same intense protectiveness for our eyes as the patient in the story, we all place incredible value on them. In fact, most of us would probably rank our orbits just below the vital organs as necessary for life. God surely knew what He was doing when He gave us the wondrous gift of sight. Yet, perhaps God intended our eyes to have a purpose that goes deeper than mere sight. Maybe our eyes provide a gateway of communication into our hearts.

Have you ever looked into another’s eyes and seemed to know what they were feeling or thinking? What do you see when you look into your patient’s eyes? More importantly, what do our patients see when they peer into ours? Do they observe eyes that are impatient, frustrated, bored, annoyed, wandering, or apathetic? Or do our eyes reflect the light, empathy, compassion, love, trust, and acceptance of our God? Our eyes communicate much about who we are without our ever saying a word. In fact, sometimes, it is only our eyes that speak for us when words are inadequate.

What do we want our patients to see when they look into our eyes? Imagine how we will feel when at last we can look into our Creator’s eyes.

Kevin Schultz, LLUSM class of 2009-for which he was sophomore class president-attended Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington, for his undergraduate studies.