My world has changed in several Essential ways of late. I usually don’t share personal health problems, but I figure that I’ll have to explain this to a bunch of people, so I may as well put it on my blog. It might also help someone else in a similar situation.
I have an eye condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity. I used to go for checkups all the time while growing up, and I had two surgeries. My condition more or less stabilized by the time I became an adult. I thought I didn’t need to worry about any more eye problems. I thought incorrectly.
One day in 2005, my left eye felt like shards of glass had ripped it apart. I went to my retina specialist and he said that my cornea had hemorrhaged. We treated it with atropine and Prednisolone eye drops. Every so often it would flare up and I would use the drops and they would work.
Nothing unusual happened for a few years. I moved into the city. Once in a while I would use the drops, including when I went to Belgium. In general though I didn’t think much about the health of my eyes.
That changed a month ago. My eyes started hurting and the drops didn’t help. I became concerned when it didn’t stop. I made an appointment with a retina specialist at Wills Eye for Friday. This happened on a Monday. I kept taking some old drops and waiting. Finally Friday arrived.
The retina specialist said that my corneas have begun getting thinner due to not seeing light. They have also begun calcifying. This gives the corneas an uneven surface, and my description of it feeling like sandpaper or glass comes pretty close to the truth. He said I’ve likely had this with me for a while. It happens as a result of my eye condition. He recommended using artificial tears and lubricating ointment, both over the counter. He recommended against the prescription drops because they might further damage the eye. We do not want my corneas to get a hole. He recommended I see a cornea specialist which i did a week later, and he said the same thing. I will go back in three months and we will see how things have progressed.
Meanwhile I have to deal with my problem. As it stands I still have painful times, but I do think my eyes have slowly started healing. Sometimes I wish I could use something stronger, but I understand the reasoning and agree. This really has changed everything. It has affected me physically and psychologically. I wanted to note a few of the things I’ve done which have helped.
The pain has affected my posture. I can’t help it if sometimes I have to curl up in my chair. Simple stretches can help with that, and I love my massage pillow. Floating feels amazing. It helps with the physical issues as well as stress.
My productivity has reduced. Somehow I have kept working. I have an even weirder sleep schedule than usual. Sleep deprivation really affects me. I can’t help it if my eyes keep me up until 05:00 AM.
Meditation has become an act of physical rebellion. I’ve meditated since I became a teenager, and it frustrated me deeply that I couldn’t do it. For a few days I kept trying to find my center, my eyes tearing up with pain. Finally I began to find a little oasis, and gradually I could begin expanding my awareness in these little pain-free points. I don’t think I could have done this without years of previous experience. I remember one night I sat down to attempt another meditation. When I finished I didn’t think much time had past, and gloomily checked the time. To my delight I had spent twenty-five minutes, a respectable length. This whole experience has further convinced me of the benefits of meditation. I’ll have more to say about that in the future.
I added a turmeric supplement to my daily regimen. Curcumin, the active ingredient, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It has a long history of safe use in the long term. It can’t hurt. Anyway, I love Indian food. Scientists found that a chemical in black pepper boosts curcumin’s effectiveness 2000%. The ancients got it right yet again.
I quickly learned that ice packs bring immediate relief. Sometimes I will just wrap some packs around my head. Sometimes I will hold these little packs on my eyes with a towel. I also have an eye mask, but of course it has holes cut out for the eyes, since most people want to see out of them. Not me! I want them covered with nice cool gel.
We have dry air in the winter, and having forced air heating in my condo makes it even dryer. I finally got a real humidifier, something I meant to do for a while. I even scored a good Amazon Warehouse deal. The description said that it had significant cosmetic damage to the top and sides, but I didn’t care. After I got it, a sighted friend said that she could see nothing wrong with it.
I immediately noticed the difference when coming up into my loft. I can verify the change in humidity with my Nest thermostat so I know it works. Not only does it help my poor eyes, it also helps my poor electronics. This winter my computer rebooted after I zapped it with a static electric charge. Goddess only knows what that has done in the long term.
As the days have begun getting lighter I discovered something else annoying. My eyes have become sensitive to light. The bright light of the sun, once a source of comfort, now stabbed my eyes relentlessly. I had looked forward to going back onto the roof deck when it got nice, so I knew I had to take action. For the first time in my life I considered wearing sunglasses.
I remembered getting some mirrored glasses while really young. My parents went to some auction and I felt fancy wearing my cool glasses. I liked how they made my eyes feel, but I couldn’t quite articulate that as a child. Later in middle school my mobility teacher tried getting me to wear some special ultraviolet blocking sunglasses, but they looked too dark and gave me a headache. That put me off to sunglasses.
I decided to try a pair made by Foster Grant from CVS. They provided a little relief, enough to convince me to go for something more higher end. I went to inner Vision Fine Eyewear, and met Lauren. I first called on the phone and briefly explained my situation. When I arrived she showed me a pair of Maui Jim Guardrails. I liked them as soon as I put them on. Lauren had me try the next lighter lens, but I noticed the increased light, and went with the darkest, the neutral gray, the one with the greatest light reduction, and the only one with mirrored surfaces.
I noticed an improvement right away. It reminded me of wearing the mirrored glasses so many years ago. It makes the light appear softer. Instead of having to squint away from it I can relax into it. Of course if my eyes hurt then it doesn’t matter, but even then it seems to take the edge off. Wearing glasses also prevents me from rubbing my eyes, which further aggravates my corneas. They also look cool according to several friends and family I trust.
That brings things up to the present. If I don’t start feeling better sooner I will call back. I can’t do this for three months. I do think things have slowly started improving, and I’ll take that over slowly getting worse. For a few days it really started feeling good, but then it flared up again, teasing me like the record breaking temperatures outside. At least I got to test my cool shades on the roof deck.