A worried man wearing glasses covers one eye with his hand.

My Eye Problems Make Me Grumpy

I wrote recently about how my multiple eye issues conspire against me and tend to act up, and are made worse with the chronic dryness. When this happens, I can’t wear the scleral lenses I need to see well. I regularly end up without being able to wear them for days or weeks at a time. When this happens, as I say, “I live in a blur.”

It took me a while to realize it... but after a few cycles, it dawned on me: when I don’t see well, I’m grumpy. Irritable. Tired. Less motivated even!

But why?

I can't do much about it

I tried to analyze this and came up with a few answers.

First, is quite simple... it’s just frustrating not to see clearly! I’m sure it happens to everyone at one point or another, no need to have a complicated eye problem. Everyone has had a similar situation happen: someone asks you what is happening and you just can’t see well, because you’re behind an obstacle or in a crowd and it’s just. so. irritating! You want to answer, report back, but you can’t! “So, what’s going on?” the person insists...

“I don’t know, I JUST CAN’T SEE!” You end up replying angrily... or shouting, maybe?

Well, that’s the feeling. Except the obstacle is my eyes, and I can’t do a thing about it. Can’t move around it.

I can zoom in my screen, choose a higher contrast (or maybe dark mode will help? Hmmm, yeah, no. I change my mind about this every other day)... I can squint, try to open my eyes as big as can be, put in some eye drops (did I say the dryness makes it worse?)... I can scream or cry (nah, not that, that also makes things worse!).

In other words... I can’t do much about it.

It's limiting

Second, well, I just said I can’t do much about it... but I also literally can’t do as much. It’s limiting! Without the scleral lenses, I can’t drive. Working on the computer is harder. Seeing the recipe is more difficult if I want to cook. I can’t play board games with a lot of text. I can’t continue my crafting projects.

I usually focus on what I can do. I already had to change most of my activities due to my health, but when this happens, I can’t do any task that requires me to see well and it’s frustrating and a bit depressing.

It exacerbates other health issues

Third, is that not seeing things clearly causes some symptoms or exacerbates some other health issues. For example, I tend to have nausea due to gastroparesis (a digestive issue)... so if I’m a passenger in a car, the nausea will go up a notch! I also suffer from migraines, and I don’t have to explain how working at the computer, squinting to try and decipher the words or numbers on the screen usually triggers one, or makes it worse if I already have one!

It’s also simply very tiring and can cause fatigue, especially if I’m already in a flare-up of one of my other conditions. That's because it takes a lot more effort to navigate daily life, and doing everything requires more concentration.

The fear

Last... is the core of it, I think.

Why do I end up so irritable? So tired, both physically and mentally, unmotivated even, on the days I can’t wear my sclerals and thus, can’t see well?

I believe it’s because of the underlying significance of it. That fear of losing my eyesight. With my corneal ectasia, I was progressively losing my eyesight for months before I was diagnosed and before the surgeries that thankfully stopped the progression. But there is no guarantee that it won’t start again. I could lose more of my eyesight and might need a corneal transplant.

There is also always the risk that for some reason, I might have to stop wearing those scleral lenses forever and be stuck in my blurry world.

Worrying even when I don't realize it

There’s also the fact that my connective tissue disorder, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, puts me at risk of several other eye health issues, like retinal detachment or macular degeneration.

This all means I’m particularly worried when my eyes aren’t doing well, even when I don’t realize it.

When my chronic dry eyes contribute to me not being able to wear my scleral lenses, I’m stuck in my blurry world and am not as fun to be around... because I hurt more, am more tired... and worry about not even seeing a blurry world anymore.

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