Eyestrain Or Not…

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 | Health

…in which I talk about some problems I’ve been suffering with my eyes, lately.

And by lately, I mean the last couple of years. I try not to attribute it back to the year that I wore glasses with the wrong prescription, but it almost seems like too much of a coincidence that I got my prescription “fixed” and the almost constant eyestrain started. I’ve had my prescription checked and updated several times since then, and things never seem to get better, but I think I’m probably getting ahead of myself. Lets back up a little bit.

Kind of like this… almost clear, but not quite.

So a few years back, our insurance did not cover glasses at the same location where we got our eye exams. This meant that after we had our exams done, we had to take our prescriptions across town and get the glasses cut at a kind of “mall quality” location. You know, one of those “in about an hour” places that takes a couple of weeks to actually make your glasses? We’d been there before, and besides having to make absolutely sure that they wrote down all the instructions for your glasses (polish the edges), they did okay. When I picked my glasses up, as will all glasses, things looked a little funny, you know extra sharp, but I attributed it to the standard “new glasses” adjustment. Over time, things got to where it all looked and felt normal, again.

The next year passes without any real issues, but in time, my glasses broke and they needed to be replaced. I believe this was the case of the snapped frame so I needed everything redone. Often I’ll cut corners by keeping the frames and having new lenses dropped in, but the frame itself was damaged so I had to start again from scratch. I was due for a new checkup so I went in and had my eyes checked, got a new prescription and headed over to the discount location as per usual. They took my order and a week later I went and picked up my glasses. Again, they seemed a little off, but no more so than any new glasses I’ve ever worn, but this time, the adjustment period didn’t really pass. After two days, I had to go back and insist that something was wrong. They checked the prescription and everything seemed fine. After another couple of days, things still didn’t get better and I insisted that there was something very wrong with these glasses. They finally kowtowed to my persistence and agreed to re-cut the right lens.

Another week passed and the strain was just constantly getting worse. I was anxious to get the new lens and have everything go back to normal. Unfortunately, after three more visits, with new lenses on both sides, things just weren’t changing. That’s when the technician finally asked to check my old glasses, the ones that were held together with tape. When he measured the prescription on them, it turned out that over a year earlier, they had given me the wrong prescription in the right lens. I don’t know how far off it was, but it was noticeably stronger. And apparently, over the year of wearing them, my eyes had adjusted to using the wrong prescription. Confident that what was done could yet be undone, I grumbled off into the cold to suffer until my eyes adopted the correct information once again.

I’m not entirely sure, any more, how long ago that was, but it was at least two pair of glasses ago and things are still not really working out. The last two times that I’ve had an eye exam, I’ve reminded them of my situation and tried my best to explain the strain that I’m experiencing. They’ve confirmed that my prescription is still correct, being surprisingly consistent both before and after the incorrect glasses, and have double checked other optical measurements. They’ve looked for damage at the internal level of the eye, and most recently, prescribed a second pair of glasses for “computer use” that have a slightly lower prescription since I’m staring at something so close for so long every day. It’s been nearly a year since the second pair of glasses was prescribed and honestly, nothing has improved.

My symptoms are this. Every day, as the day goes on, my ability to focus on details continually declines, starting slow at first and increasing speed later in the day. My focus is not soft or blurry, in fact, if I close one eye or the other, each eye sees very clearly with clean lines and even contrast. What it seems like, from the inside, is that the two eyes can’t really focus on the same spot at the same time, as if they are either working to look past or short of the focal point. There is a slight double vision that results from this. Let your focus slip for a second until the text starts to split apart. That’s what it looks like. What’s more is the feeling of physical drain on my eyes and even my head. As the day wears on, I feel like my eyes are working harder and harder to keep in sync. There’s an actual sensation of exhaustion that I can attribute to it. It’s almost like when you’ve been working out a particular set of muscles and you get to the point where there’s just no more juice left. You couldn’t lift that weight again if your life depended on it. My eyes get the point right before that, where you’re not sure, but you could probably force one more rep.

As I said, I’ve brought this up at the last two checkups and things have not really improved. I’ve taken up a new practice of closing my eyes every 20 minutes for about 20 seconds when I’m at work, which seems to slow down the daily degradation, but not stop it completely. If I’m doing anything that takes a very close eye, I typically close one eye or turn my head so that what I’m focusing on is only visible with one eye, while the other is blinded by my generous nose. I also have found that if I take an hour or so after work and just go without glasses – and either spend it reading or napping – I kind of get a reprieve for the rest of the day. Nevertheless, it’s still a lot of work trying to keep my vision in check.

It’s on my mind even more, right now, because it’s time for another eye checkup and I think I’m ready to cash it in and go to another doctor just to get a different opinion. One of my labbies has suggested their doctor as one who can identify rare or unusual problems, so maybe I’ll give him a chance. I’ve also had more than a couple people suggest that laser vision surgery could not only fix my eyes, but eliminate this problem as well. I’ve been dreaming of laser surgery for a few years now, since I started my photo work again, but we just never be financially in a place to take on a new debt. It seems like every year the mantra is “next year, when we’ve paid off our credit cards.” We’re closer than we ever have been before, but it may still be another year, rather than a few months.

So for now, I suffer and deal with the problem. Like most IT specialists, I have workarounds and quick fixes, but no real solutions. I occasionally wonder if it’s a change in my diet or daily activity, but then I think back to the last time I could see well, back when I had the wrong prescription. I’m not willing to specifically request the wrong prescription to try and fix a problem, that seems more like ignoring it rather than fixing it. So here’s hoping that the next year brings clearer vision and an end to eye-strain. Because right now, as much as I enjoy writing, it’s more of a chore than it should be, because right now, my vision is pretty much shot.

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3 Comments to Eyestrain Or Not…

December 7, 2011

Remind me tomorrow and I’ll give you the info for my doc if you want it.

I went to an elderly optometrist for most of my childhood, and never had a problem.  When he retired, we went to the docs attached to LensCrafters and the like, and it just… wasn’t the same.  The guy I go to now is another pro optometrist – they also do laser surgery – and every time I’ve dealt with them, it’s been nothing but a pleasure.  They don’t sell glasses, and it’s a bit of a drive, but I’m not leaving until he retires, too.  🙂

December 8, 2011

Awesome, thanks! I do have a very good recommendation from one of my lab attendants, but I am definitely interested in other suggestions.

[…] a while back, I spoke at length about how of late I’ve been suffering from double vision. I mentioned how […]

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December 2011