Wednesday, September 20, 2006


At the start of the year I suffered a minor injury to my left eye. This brought my vision down to slightly below average for my age. A doctor and an ophthalmologist both thought that my vision was good enough at this level and that I don't need glasses. But the ability to use a small font means that I can have more text on screen and thus do my work more effectively. Since about March I have worn glasses all the time. Regardless of what the experts say I want to have good vision all the time and there is a significant difference between my vision while wearing glasses and that without.

It's often recommended that people get their eyes tested about every 2 years from when they are in their late 20's and also get a test done a few months after any eye injury. I strongly support such recommendations for anyone who works in the computer industry. Even if your vision is slightly less than it could be it will make a difference to your work. I have not found glasses to cause me any inconvenience, I'm sure that it would be bad for children to wear glasses but for adults the only potential issue is when playing sport (which is less demanding on your vision than reading an 8 point font on a typical monitor). I am constantly amazed by TV and radio adverts which say "do you wear glasses, if so then you must have considered LASER eye surgery". Glasses are fine (IMHO) and I will not consider having a LASER or other dangerous object pointed at my eyes unless I am in danger of death or blindness!

The testing apparatus that an optometrist uses is interesting to inspect if you like machines. It is a device with a huge selection of levers for inserting different lenses in front of your eyes until they discover the combination that gives you the best vision. If you get your eyes tested make sure you get the optometrist to explain everything, you can learn many interesting things.

Recently, I have had a further eye problem. Recently my central vision went blurry with a shimmering affect for about 40 minutes, but the peripheral vision was OK. An ophthalmologist diagnosed this as a migraine, apparently I got a very mild one with only a minor visual affect but no headache etc. One thing that is apparently possible when experiencing migraine related vision impairments is the ability to act on visual information without consciously knowing it (EG catch a ball without seeing it).

A migraine is a better diagnosis than I had feared. The movie Super Size Me (the topic of tomorrow's blog entry) contains an interview with a main who describes a diabetic vision problem that sounded similar to mine. Migraines don't cause permanent problems while diabetes can, and diabetes requires lots of unpleasant blood tests and injections.

Apparently migraines are often triggered by physical events or food items. If you suffer one then it's recommended that you write down as much information as possible about the previous 24 hours to help track down the cause. If you experience something similar to what I describe then do not take this blog entry as medical advice, instead rely on a doctor and whichever specialist they refer you to. But do write down everything that happened prior to the medical problem (keeping an accurate diary can't do any harm).

The Wikipedia entry on Migraines has a lot more interesting information, but don't take it as medical advice either. One particularly interesting thing in the Wikipedia article is the note that migraines may be caused by not having suitable glasses, or prevented by wearing special glasses.


Shintaro said...

Fist,this blog's word point is too small so I only can understand half of them,but my eyeballs are like egg-shape because of too much study in youth.
I had many operations by laser which a lot of boxers do.
In my country many people wear glasses and glasses thought to be honored injury during a cram-study war time.

etbe said...

I'll look into changing the font. Incidentally I plan to change to my own blog server in the near future (I want to control everything) and might do so before figuring such things out.

You were a boxer?

Why do boxers have laser operations? Is this because of eye damage caused by boxing or because you can't wear glasses or contact lenses in the ring and your vision previously wasn't good enough to see your opponent?

When I was in Japan I noticed that more people wore glasses than in Australia. But the number of people wearing glasses seems higher among the serious programmers in Australia than among the general population in Japan. I'm not sure whether this is causes by eye strain from lots of coding, or because people just need glasses and aren't bothered enough by the glasses image to get contact lenses or LASER surgery.

Elspeth said...

Hmm. Interesting article.

I think that children should definitely wear glasses if their vision is impaired; for one thing, poor vision can adversely affect hand-eye coordination development. Eyestrain is also non-trivial at any age where one spends a large portion of the day dealing with text. Of course, I'm speaking here from the point of view of a child who wore glasses from age 10, and probably should have started sooner. I don't understand how children wearing glasses is 'bad'.

I certainly have considered the LASIK surgery, although I have never seen the ads. It has become increasingly obvious over the years that as soon as my vision stops changing it would be a really good idea.

I'm a bit of an extreme case; I've met a single person in my life with correctable vision that is worse than mine. The lenses I need for glasses aren't manufactured outside Japan; and even the contacts have to be a special order.

Without my lenses, I have less visual acuity than a legally blind diabetic ex-housemate of mine had.

Shintaro Fujiwara said...

I think this blog soft is good.
I like word verification.
My blog soft's rss is broken and I want to fix it...

I wasn't a boxer but,when you becomes near-sighted,it does not depend whether by too much study or not,your eye balls become more and more rugby-ball like and retina pulled and perimeter is torn like when you pull strongly plastic bag.
Once retina is torn you have high risk to become detachment of the retina and you will be blind.
That's my case,so doctor riveted retina by LASER.
Operation itself has no-pain but you have to cry.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'd heard of optical migraines before, but never knew anyone who'd actually had them - I think I read somewhere the condition is rare. Hope everything stays good with the specs and your vision doesn't get any worse.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
etbe said...

Anonymous said "I have recently stumbled upon "Natural Sight Improvement Programs", like that one: http://******.com"

The URL you posted was run by a company named after a famous university (a common technique used in fraudulent schemes). It claimed to be "Doctor developed" but another page said that the man who developed it has a bachelor of psychology degree as his only qualification.

Some of the advice might be useful (such as using good light when reading), but you can probably figure out such things for yourself.

You should not take medical advice from people who lack medical qualifications (including me). Particularly avoid taking advice from unqualified people who want your money. Such advice often puts you at risk.

I have deleted your comment to avoid promoting a scam.

Anonymous said...

What you describe is an ocular migraine even though the affect is not actually in the eyes. I've been experiencing them since age 31 or so, getting on average 6 to 8 migraines per year. I never have headache pain with the. Until I was diagnosed, I was convinced and scared it was something more serious. Once I found out, I was relieved. Now, when I experience the aura before the vision gets freaky, I take a few deep breaths and the episodes don't last more than 15-20 minutes. When I was panicky, they lasted longer! Typically, I get a sensitivity to light. Within 5 minutes, there is a small, dark orb in the periphery of my vision. As it gets larger, I can "see" small, jagged, bright lights surrounding this dark spot. Usually it affects one eye, but I have experienced it in both simultaneously before.

I'm 48 now, and I just accept this as part of life. Sometimes I think it's precipitated by stress. I'm not sure if it's affected by diet. It's an interesting phenomenon.