The eyes have it

On March 14, 2010 by Simon Fleming

It is easy to think everything is fine on a daily basis in regards to your health & well being but I think we all tend to neglect or avoid looking after ourselves to some degree. In my case I have been putting off a lot of things with the excuses of “I’m too busy”, “it’s nothing”, “I’m young, don’t worry about it” or just plain don’t want to know about the ‘what ifs’.

Recently I decided to go deal with a few things that I’ve been putting off for years. One of those was seeing an optometrist for an eye check – last one was a loooong time ago. I would say my eye sight is pretty reasonable – I certainly don’t have any issues seeing pretty much anything at any distance, in fact I’m often the one in my group of friends whose eye sight seems to stand out as being better. After seeing the optometrist I emerged with a completely different scenario to ponder. My right eye is almost as good as the day it was made, however my left eye is significantly lower in ability. This miss match causes my right eye to work overtime and then my brain to also work way harder than it should to process and blend the two very different signals – I had no idea… ¬† other than a succession of nearly daily headaches & sometimes migraines over the last 2 – 3 years. I simply put all of this down to working often long, hard hours and would tell my self to just get on with the job at hand. I now sport a set of glasses for computer work and anything else that I’m ¬†concentrating on for long periods. This began about ten days ago and I am already experiencing a pleasant change.

About 5 or 6 years ago my time in front of a computer’s display began to increase massively with the frequency of digital photography increasing. It is unavoidable in my line of work in a printing lab. On a daily basis in the shop I consistently view & edit an average of 500+ images, 6 days a week (on ‘big’ days where I am also working on weddings for other photographers that number could easily be 2000+). That doesn’t include working on my own personal projects out of business hours. Not complaining, just painting a picture. Managing how much ‘screen time’ you endure per sitting is important – I try to limit myself to a thirty minute burst with a 5 minute break but this isn’t always practical in the real world. The increase of screen time & the lack of aid in the form of glasses has most certainly accelerated the degradation of my left eye. If I had acted earlier I could have slowed it down or halted it at a much better level, and avoided years of headaches induced by this.

The bottom line is, don’t ignore things or put off taking care of yourself. If I was unable to enjoy photography as I do now, or was limited to how much time I could spend in front of a computer (my main source of income at this time) my life would be very different. My mother has advanced macular-degeneration and is legally blind. You think that would have been a glaringly obvious sign to take better care of my own eyes earlier…

Take care of yourselves, and never take anything for granted. Enjoy the gift of sight that you have and preserve it for a long as you can.

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