I have had a hearing impairment my whole life. Over the decades I have learned how to adapt, adjusting where I sit in a restaurant, learning how to quickly tell if I will be able to hear at an event, knowing where to sit in a theater for the best audio-experience I can have. It is part of who I am now and I am used to it. In the past two years, however, I have faced another sensory impairment with my:
I now routinely experience horrible blurred vision. I have had multiple doctor appointments to try to determine a course of action. I have slight cataracts on both eyes. The ophthalmologist feels I have another five years before I should have surgery. He believes I need my prescription changed and that I suffer from some kind of extreme dry eye. For weeks now, I have been on a regimen of eye drops, gels and something akin to vaseline that I put into my eyes at various times of day to combat the lack of lubricant. At night when the thickest of the formulas is put into my eye, I also apply a heated eye mask which allows the thicker consistency to kind of melt and become more flow-y (for lack of a better term). Next week I will revisit the optometrist (now that the lubrication regimen will have had a chance to kick in) and she will reread my eyes and we will try a new set of glasses.
The other part of my treatment plan is called “The 20’s”. Because we blink 66% less while working on the computer, this can lead to (or increases) dry and burning eyes. My ophthalmologist suggests that for every 20 minutes you are on a computer, you should look up and away (at least 20 feet) and make your eyes focus on something for at least 20 seconds. That is a difficult thing for me. My regular job involves being on the computer all day. The majority of my hobbies are on the computer (I have been making great genealogy breakthroughs lately). So I have been doing my best to get up from my desk to walk around the building and I look at the license plates in the parking areas as I walk, read the signs (for the umpteenth time). And, at home, to work my eyes on “real” things, I have drug out an old coin collection to work on. The small markings on the coins requires you to really use your focus. I feel like a million years old because I have a magnifying glass with a light aid. But, I am focusing on solid items, using my eyes properly all while reducing the size of Husband’s change jar in the bedroom.
So my lesson: even though I know the disadvantages of having one sensory impairment, I was not prepared for the diminished capability of another. A person should never take their vision (hearing, smell, tactile senses) for granted. Always make sure you get your yearly appointments in (eyes, wellness, dentist). If you cannot afford it, try to find an income-driven clinic in your area. Ask friends about resources. I am not trying to make trivial health care. I KNOW how difficult is is for people who have no insurance. But, if there IS a way – make sure you find it and utilize it! Because, I promise you, you will miss it when it (vision, hearing, etc) starts to go!