Almost every RPer I have met has bad eye days; my bad eye days are most often due to light exposure or over use of my eyes. I have been thinking about this lately because I have gotten some questions about my reading and writing capabilities, in regard to my vision loss, and because I have been having more bad eye days.
I have always loved to read. When I was a child and my family took plane rides, we all got to choose a book to take with us on the plane; it was my favorite thing about traveling. I loved going to the book store and spending hours carefully choosing which book I would take on the plane. I was also terrified of flying, so having a book to read transported me to another world where I didn’t have to think about being thousands of feet in the air.
From the time I learned to read, I read voraciously. I remember when the final Harry Potter book came out and it was delivered to my house; I read the whole thing in a few hours because I wanted to finish it before I heard anything about it on social media or the news, and then immediately started reading it a second time to catch all the things I may have missed on the first read. That book was probably the highlight of my year that year; is that sad? Oh well. Potter Rules!!!!!!
You get the point, I love to read. As I have written in other posts, I am incredibly lucky that I have pretty good central vision and can still read. Most people know about 20/20 vision and how that is the ideal, and most people I know who wear glasses get their vision corrected up to 20/20. For me, without my glasses, my vision is about 20/300, but with my glasses, my vision can be corrected up to 20/35; this is really fortunate for someone with RP, but even for me, reading has its challenges.
If I spend more than 20 minutes (sometimes much less) looking at a back-lit computer or tablet screen, my eyes start to sting and burn, and I will often have to close my eyes to rest them for an hour or so. Of course, there is a wonderful remedy to this, which is inverting the colors on the screen; right now I am typing on a black screen with sort of peachy beige text. However, even with the screen colors inverted, if I am at the computer for too long, they will hurt simply from over-use; I have to make sure that I take my eyes away from the computer every 15 minutes, and I am not great about doing that.
As far as reading books, I have a lot of trouble focusing, due to both the RP and cataracts, so I can’t read real books, newspapers or magazines anymore without ending up in serious pain. Trying to focus on small print is way too much work for my eyes, and reading glasses just make it worse. So, thankfully, I have my kindle, which has no back light and the capability to increase font size, but even on the Kindle, my eyes will start to ache after about an hour of reading. The thing is, I can get so engrossed in a book that I don’t pay attention to the time or the fact that my eyes are hurting, and I pay for it the next day. I have had days when I can’t look at anything, even in dim lighting, for more than a minute without experiencing pain. Unfortunately, RP hasn’t taught me how to make better choices when it comes to over indulgence.
Another big culprit in a bad eye day, is spending too much time outside. Whenever I go outside, I wear a big hat and sunglasses, but even with my eyes protected from the sun, if I spend a day outside, I inevitably spend a day in bed with my eyes closed. I used to love to take long hikes, but I can’t do that anymore because of the sun; and let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t have been hiking on my own anyway, given that I can’t see what’s going on around me. So, basically, any all day outdoor events are something I dread, and don’t even get me started about the beach.
I can’t deny that when it comes to my vision and my life choices, I can be reckless; it is in my nature. I like to do what I want and I have often paid the price for my stubborn ways, but as my vision gets worse and my RP symptoms increase, I am having to quell my rebellious side and pay attention to what my body is telling me.
Over the past year, I have truly dedicated myself to a writing life, which has been amazing, but it has also resulted in more bad eye days. I am spending more and more time, not only writing blog posts, but also working on my poetry, writing stories and reading the work of countless amazing poets and writers. I feel inspired and uplifted and incredibly motivated, but I realize that a bit of scheduling is in order. Scheduling is such a pesky word (pesky is a fucking awesome word), but for the sake of my eyes, I have to find some reading/writing and life balance. I have to give my eyes some TLC and give myself days away from the computer. I need to take breaks and pay attention to time. I need to stop fighting my RP, but it is going to be hard.