How My Dry Eyes Inspired a Career Change
Last updated: April 2023
I’ve read many stories of people suffering from dry eye who have had to quit their jobs because they were unable to continue working because of their eyes, especially people who hold computer jobs. Fortunately, I have not been forced to quit my job because of my eyes. However, I clearly remember suffering through the dark days at work in which my condition was at its worst. I could barely make it through the day, and I would hurry home, desperate for relief–I have improved greatly since then.
Pursuing a new career
I am a middle and high school English teacher and have been for the past eight years. All of the classes that I currently teach are in the morning, when my eyes are freshest. Sometimes I stay grading papers and preparing for the next day into the afternoon, and my eyes begin to feel tired and irritated. But thankfully, I’ve been able to find some stability with my eyes and cope without them affecting my career.
However, my dry eyes have led me to developing new interests and passions, ultimately inspiring me to leave my job of teaching and pursue a career in clinical nutrition. Before developing dry eyes, I wasn’t very health conscious. I thought I made relatively smart choices in regards to what I ate and in the lifestyle that I lived. I soon learned that there was so much that I did not know. As I began reading and listening to podcasts, I started implementing the knowledge that I was acquiring.
Applying my newly acquired knowledge
I cut out refined sugar, fried foods, and processed foods. I tried the Whole30 program. And I permanently changed the way that I ate for the better. I started focusing on eating a variety of nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods. With the possibility that I might have Sjogren’s Disease on my radar, I even tried the very restrictive auto-immune protocol (AIP) diet.
Throughout all of my food experiments and changes, I have learned a lot about my body and how different foods affect me. I learned that I do much better off of dairy and off of all of the junk food that I had been eating. To achieve my optimal level of health, I needed to eat foods that would fuel my body. During the process, I did see some improvements with my eyes, but I also saw many other positive changes affecting my whole body.
Career change and dry eye
This led to my desire to want to learn more in order to further help myself but also to help others. My interest in nutrition is both personal and professional. While I still never would have wanted to develop dry eyes, this new passion has been one thing for which I am grateful as a result of my condition. As of my writing this, I start online classes within a couple of months to earn my Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.
Leaving my teaching career was a tough decision. I will greatly miss my students and coworkers, as well as being at school with my own kids every day (I teach at their school). But I am excited about what the future holds. I feel like a kid again, starting something new and brimming with possibility. And sometimes, with chronic conditions like dry eye, that is what we need. We need to see life from an exciting perspective. We need to see possibilities beyond pain.
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