I took the hint and went to see my eye doctor yesterday. He had good news and bad news. The good news was that they weren’t any worse than they were at my last appointment, sixteen months ago. The bad news is that they’re still pretty lousy.
My eyes are pretty screwed up. When I was injured five years ago, the third nerve was damaged pretty badly and I now have double vision, as well as an ultra-fun condition called nystagmus. The double vision is pretty self-explanatory: without corrective lenses, I see two of everything. (Of course, sometimes it seems like I can see an infinite amount of objects, such as when I’m trying to focus on an object right in front of me. Say I have a pen in my hand. As my eyes switch from one to the other trying to decide which is the ‘real’ pen, my eyes become like a set of opposing mirrors, forever trying to focus on one pen, an impossible task.)
I also have nystagmus, which basically means that my eyes jump up and down. This was really hard to get used to at first but as the years have gone by, I’ve become somewhat accustomed to it. That’s a good thing, as there really isn’t any treatment for nystagmus.
And lest I forget, I also have my garden-variety near-sightedness, which bestowed upon me my first pair of glasses at age eight and my first pair of contacts at age eleven. Yes, I know that was probably too early for contacts. At the time, the optometrist said other docs would probably balk at prescribing contacts for someone my age but I was having headaches from wearing the (Diet) Coke bottle lenses so that was the best option. (I call them “Diet” Coke bottle because 1) they weren’t as bad as in the sixties and seventies but not the super-ultra-dooper wonder-lite lenses of today and 2) I lurve Diet Coke. With a passion. To the Nth degree. A lotta bit. Yeah. Like that.)
So how’s your eye health? Do you know have you been to the eye doctor lately, aka your friendly neighborhood optometrist (or even ophthalmologist) lately?
Prevent Blindness America (let’s call it PBA, I’m feeling lazy today) thinks you should and so do I, for that matter. (I don’t know where this sass and vinegar is coming from today, but I like it!) According to PBA:
- More women than men are diagnosed with eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy
- Women may experience changes in vision in various stages of their lives including pregnancy and post-menopause.
- More than 2.3 million women (out of 3.6 million people total) live with visual impairment, including blindness
- 6 million women (vs 3 million men) have dry eye syndrome, a condition where not enough natural tears are produced.
Every woman needs to take care of her eyes but women of color need to be especially vigilant about because, believe me, vision problems of any sort aren’t fun. 1 in 3 Americans/USians who have glaucoma are African-American and glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. Latinas should be aware that they, too, are prone to startlingly high rates of rates of eye disease and visual impairment. Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Alaska Native women have a greater risk of developing diabetes, which can have various eye diseases as a complication.
Pregnant ladies? Eye disease is one more thing you have to worry about. The increased hormones can cause “refractive changes, dry eyes, puffy eyelids that obscure side vision and sensitivity to light due to migraine headaches.” If you have blurry vision or are seeing spots, you should call your doctor immediately, since this may be a sign of high blood pressure or diabetes. The PBA suggests, “All women who are diabetic and pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant should get a full, dilated eye exam.” As if you didn’t have enough to think about. Good grief.
In case this post sounds über-bossy, please remember that I live with really, really insert-your-own-swear-word eyes every day. It impairs my life in a lot of ways that are hard to even begin to describe. If I can spare you even a little bit of this, well, yeah, I’d like that.
So what are you waiting for? Go call the optometrist!