My Eyes, My Work

I've realized how much can change in a minute. What if something happens to my sight?

Image created via Midjourney
a watercolor illustration of a pair of glasses on top of a book

Lately, I've been having problems with my eyes.

It started back in December. Every year, we drive around some of the neighborhoods that are decked out in Christmas lights. It's a fun way to contain some of the excitement of Christmas Eve. We then end with dinner at home, followed by laying out cookies for Santa.

This year, it was December 26th because my oldest son had strep throat was recovering from strep throat on Christmas Eve. But otherwise, we piled into the van as normal, with a Google Map ready to guide us.

When we reached the first neighbordhood and began driving slowly by the various homes, my eyes started burning. I was so incredibly sensitive to the Christmas lights that eventually I had to pull my hat over my head. I didn't want to ruin the evening for everyone, so I stayed that way (which was an incredibly disorienting experience.

I didn't quite understand it. My only explanation was that I'm not used to driving in the evening. We left the house so little during the pandemic. And now, I wake up so early that I avoid evening activities. Still, it's not like I never go out at night. I figured that the combination of the bright Christmas lights and infrequent nighttime driving must have been the cause.

Ever since then, I've had frequent eye burning or slightly blurred vision. After some Googling, I self-diagnosed that I have serious eye strain. It didn't make sense – since my overall screen time hasn't really changed, even though I began working as a freelancer.

But my environment has changed. A few months ago, I set up my office in our sunroom. It has terrible lighting. Not a problem during the day, since it has floor to ceiling windows. But since I start writing before 5:00 am, I've likely been stressing my eyes out for months with inadequate lighting.

I bought a new lamp and new glasses with anti-fatigue and blue-light filtering lenses. I've been putting drops in my eyes to keep them hydrated. I'll try to take care of my eyes for the next few weeks and hope for improvement (before seeing a doctor to determine if there's another cause).

It's been at best inconvenient and at worse alarming. I rely on my eyes for my livelihood. I had to frantically finish a client project this morning (due today) because my eyes were so sore yesterday that I couldn't wrap it up last night.

This whole experience has made me realize how much could change in a minute. What if something happened to my sight?

Last night, I dictated some notes to myself on my phone. I kept a facemask over my eyes and spent several hours in complete darkness. This morning, my eyes felt a bit better. Hopefully I can give them the rest they need (along with the other things I'm going to try).

Out of all of this, I've had one truly unique experience. I went to hot yoga yesterday, wearing my glasses. I sweat so much during yoga class that I knew I would not be able to keep my glasses on. My vision is pretty bad, so without my glasses, I can't see much.

My yoga studio follows the same sequence of postures during each 90-minute class. I've been going long enough that I have the sequence memorized. I let the instructor's words guide me.

Anything that required balance was hard (lots of postures involve standing on one leg). Without being able to see myself in the mirror, I toppled over a lot.

But there were also fewer distractions. I never looked at the other students because I couldn't see them anyway.

Even when my eyes recover, it feels like I might want to continue yoga-without-my-contacts. I could focus much more on myself and the moment.