Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jeepers Peepers: A Writer's Eye Health

Do me a favor and blink. Just blink. I promise no Weeping Angel will come and get you.

When we stare at a computer screen or any detailed, focused task we forget to blink. So while you are reading this and afterwards when you are typing away at your latest manuscript please remind yourself to blink.

Okay that is the end of the blinking PSA. And here is what prompted it, my eyes have been failing me. I get terrible migraines, I have vertigo all the time, and my medical doctor can’t figure out what is going on. She suggested I go to the eye doctor to see if maybe my poor eyesight is part of the problem. It turns out it is, in a big way.

I knew I had vision problems, what I didn’t know was how bad they were. I’ve dealt with having a condition called Nocturnal Lagophthalmos for almost a decade, so that I could handle. Nocturnal Lagophthalmos is what they call it when you sleep with your eyes open. This presents the problem of your eyes drying out. The description of feeling like you have sand in your eyes is most often heard when a person has slept with their eyes open. It’s a form of partial facial paralysis. Really not a biggie, but it does lead to dreadful pain. When I feel that sandpaper sting in my eyes I know I need to tape my eye closed at night and on top of that I have to patch it. Arrggg, me matey!

But after visiting the eye doctor I found out that is only the tip of the iceberg with my eyes.
1) Now not only do I have to patch my eye, but I have to stick this ointment in my eye before bed to help keep my eye moist (yes, I know everyone hates that word. Sorry) which renders me nearly blind, so that is always fun
 2) My eyes are uneven, meaning one is set higher than the other, so I need a prism in my glasses.
3) I most certainly need glasses.
4) I am both nearsighted and farsighted, can’t see up close at all and can barely see anything in the distance. So that means I need progressive lenses.
5) There is a natural degeneration of the eyes that takes place once people are in their 40’s, it’s called Presbyopia. The doctor found that I have Prebyopia now in my 30’s which they usually don’t see in people. Why? No idea. Is it dangerous? Well, it’s normal, eventually everyone gets it to some degree, but the fact that mine is setting in earlier than usual and at a sever rate is worrisome. Not dangerous, but worrisome.
6) My eyes don’t dilate like they should… This is a problem. I am so super sensitive to light and get so dizzy and nauseous with even the slightest light changes that this seems to be my biggest area of concern. The only way to help it for now is the literally where sunglasses everywhere, at every time of day and if it worsens then I’ll have to wear them at night too. Which I find hilarious, but my eye doctor didn’t find quite so funny. The other option he had for me was he could put me on glaucoma medicine which would make my eyes dilate, however those medicines are an extreme solution which come with a bevy of side effects. No thank you! He agreed with my decision to just say no, but did say, eventually it would have to happen. Even though I do not have glaucoma I will eventually have to be put on the medicine. Ugh.

So what is contributing to my laundry list of eye problems? A couple of things. Poor diet, which I’ve been working on. Long (and I do mean LOOOOOOONG) hours in front of the computer screen without blinking properly. The drying out of my eyes from my nocturnal lagophthalmos. Improper lighting when working. Not sitting correctly. Genetics. Stress. And the factor of the Unknown… He just doesn’t know.

As a writer, someone who wants and needs to get the stories out of her head and onto the computer screen it’s been hard when I can barely make out what I’m typing or writing. It’s been a struggle. It’s been discouraging. My list of To Be Read books is so big it’s ridiculous because I couldn’t read for more than 10 minutes at a time without getting a migraine and getting sick. Unfortunately my glasses that I paid a ton of money for aren’t helping. I’m going to go in and have them try to readjust them or something I can’t keep them on for very long and when I do I can’t move my head, the slightest movement and I’m feeling like the world is spinning. But I’ve found some things that work on my own in the mean time.

1)      I do wear my sunglasses at all times during the day, except in my house which is fairly dark.
2)      An hour before I start up my computer I put some ointment in my eyes to help keep them lubricated. Then wipe it off so I can see when I go to start working.
Gooey eyes before writing.
3)      If I am reading or playing video games I wear my glasses and make sure not to move my head too much.
4)      Remind myself to blink. It’s such a small thing but it really makes a difference. I never noticed how tired and dry my eyes were getting because I was so focused on my task that I forgot to blink.
5)      I make sure to sleep with my eye patched and ointment in.
Arrg. No one be messin' with me eye patch.

Sticky, gooey, and uncomfortable. Welcome to my nightlife.
6)      I’ve set up my computer desk to have the screen at eye level, and sitting a proper distance from it. When I’m sitting at my desk I have no need for my glasses because it is in my vision sweet spot. Just the right distance where I can see clearly.
Proper Computer set up. Perfect for my eyes.

7)      I now remember to take breaks. Look away from my task on the computer and look at something in the distance to give my eyes a break.

It’s not a perfect system. I still get headaches, but not nearly as often. And thanks to my friend Andie who sent me an essential oil blend for headaches and tension I've been able to manage my headaches better. My vision still sucks but at least I can get some reading done, get some writing done, and not feel like I’m drowning in a sea of things left unfinished. So here’s my next little PSA, Writers- get your eyes checked regularly! Especially if you are having fuzzy vision, light sensitivity, headaches. It’s important, you can’t write if you can’t see. And that was honestly my biggest fear and the motivating factor of me getting vision insurance and getting myself to the eye doctor. I love writing, I love crafts, I love reading and I can’t do any of those things if I can’t see.

Hopefully the eye doctor can figure out what is wrong with my glasses and I will be able to give a positive update to this post soon.

1 comment:

  1. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. I have terrible eye sight...ok I am pretty much blind. Glasses always hurt me, no matter what. I can handle them for about 2-3 hours before my eyes feel like I have been punched. That leaves me with my contacts the rest of the time. I also sleep with my eyes open apparently, but I use a sleeping mask and not a patch. I use the ointment as well. Right now, it seems mostly triggered by high stress and I have learned to read the signs and start using ointment again when I know I have started doing this again. I am in my early 30's and was terrified a few years ago when I couldn't see with my glasses or contacts. Luckily I had a really good eye doctor. He figured out the sleeping-as-a-dead person does thing and his recommendations helped 100%.