My eyes suck. They’ve sucked for a long time, and not just in terms of vision, though that is the most serious problem I have with them. Most people who know me casually don’t realize I’m as blind as I am (I very nearly meet the standard for legal blindness in my right eye); I wear contacts most of the time, and rarely go out with my glasses on. The first encounter with me and glasses usually provokes odd looks — even with the ultra-expensive high-index plastic lenses, my glasses still manage to deform my face, and the lenses themselves are 7 or 8 mm thick at the outer edges anyway.
To make matters worse, my right eye is dramatically weaker than my left. Corrected, this isn’t such a big deal, but uncorrected there’s enough difference in input that I get dizzy sometimes if I don’t close one eye or the other. As I say, when I’m wearing glasses or have my contacts in, my vision’s usually OK. My contacts have been problematic for a few years — as a function of my allergies (which are also getting worse as time goes on, which is why I’m starting immunotherapy soon-ish), as a function of the lenses themselves. I managed to develop a truly shocking case of giant papillary conjunctivitis a few years ago — it’s never a positive sign when your optometrist comes along, everts your eyelids, and then calls the other members of his practice group over to look at you. I went through a period where I had a serious problem with floaters around the same time, which continue to bug me under some circumstances to this day.
Two positives in all of this: One is that I don’t have an astigmatism (yet), which frankly to my mind is nothing short of a miracle. The other saving grace was that my prescription had seemingly finally stabilized — I’d had the same pair of glasses for almost four years, which was unheard of up to this point. But in the past month or so I’ve noticed that my right eye has been a little blurry, a little less sharp; I blamed it on my contacts and didn’t think anything else of it. (I’ve been fighting with the right kind of contact for a couple of years now — the ones that don’t induce GPC in me dry my eyes out or sting; the ones that keep my eyes moist induce GPC; the ones that do neither are uncomfortable as hell.) I’d been thinking semi-seriously about refractive surgery, and it’s intriguing as hell (the cost balances within a couple of years by my math), but.. I still can’t shake that nagging feeling that maybe something would go wrong. Sure, I knew a bunch of people who had it done, who swore by it, who said it was the best thing they’ve ever done.. and yet, my data-driven soul says, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Anyway, now that my prescription has apparently changed — one would hope, anyway, that this does not signal the beginning of the dreaded astigmatism — that option’s off the table for a while again, allowing me to defer the decision once more.
So I’d sort of planned to see my optometrist in the next little while and ask about my right eye when I went and did something much worse on Monday: I tore my corneas off.
Okay, that’s overstating it. I actually tore a couple small patches of my cornea off (think of the top of a salt shaker) and irritated the living fuck out of the other parts. Officially it’s called “punctate keratitis” and it’s officially not a big deal (though I do need topical analgesia and I’m now on opthalmic antibiotics), but holy hopping hell did it ever hurt! It might well have been the most painful thing I’ve ever felt, and I’m including the time I tried to sneeze after my neck surgery. What happened was that somehow, the cornea-contact lens interface had dried out, leading the cornea to become hypoxic and irritated. When I finally pulled the lens out, it took chunks of the cornea with it; what was left of the cornea decided that it was going to just sit there and be pissed.
Monday night was brutal — an addict’s dream combination of anti-inflammatories and high-test systemic analgesics knocked me out but did little to dull the pain. I woke up every hour or so, saw the doc on Tuesday morning, then went home and went back to bed after dumping a load of diclofenac into my eyes. (The man who invented opthalmic diclofenac deserves to be kissed several times over.) I woke up in the afternoon feeling marginally better, but with a new problem: everything was just slightly blurry.
And that’s how things have remained since then. I went to work this morning and managed to function fine, though I had a tough time reading the computer screens and I found myself squinting hard at ECGs and printed paper. My recently slacking right eye decided that now would be an excellent time to be even lazier and my left eye wasn’t doing much better either, so there was a lot of close focusing and turning up the font sizes where I could. It’s a little tricky — I can get around fine and I’m OK to drive, but fine discrimination is elusive. This will, I am told, improve as the swelling and irritation goes down, and frankly I can’t wait for it. Meanwhile, it’s annoying as all fuck because things are just slightly out of focus and it takes me a couple of seconds to find the hyperfocal point where everything sort of snaps into place.
(Another interesting thing I noticed today: I am noticably stupider than I usually am. I tried to do some teaching on Monday night and found myself almost incapable of forming a complete sentence, unfairly punishing my students for my own idiocy. Fortunately my Trusted Lackey helped pick up the slack and so I doubt anyone was in a position to complain. But today I was trying to explain ischemic heart disease to a patient and I couldn’t find the words. Thank god no one died today; I can’t imagine how that conversation would have gone with all the ums and ahs and ers and duhs..)
Anyway, at the moment, I have the font size in Mozilla jacked up by +3. Which is.. interesting. It’s kind of surprising how many Wobsites out there depend on fixed-width layouts so that relatively increasing the size of the text manages to seriously screw up the design. Unsurprisingly, the one site that looks exactly the way it does with a “normal” font size is Joe Clark’s, which leads me to think that perhaps I need to put a little more effort at designing for people who need to bump the text size up a few notches..