Carolyn Wing Greenlee

Update on My Eyes (Stupidity Included)

I’m on my third bottle of the RP eye formula. My eyes have not changed (a good thing in RP) except for something that had nothing to do with the drops. It had to do with stubbornness and stupidity. I was trying to do an audio book of Steady Hedy, reading it myself off my computer screen with the type just the right font and size, the paragraphs broken into short segments, and the sentences in line-breaks like poetry to help me get the emphasis right. It was grueling. Even after practicing each short segment several times before starting the recording, I made many errors. I continued on for probably two hours, keeping my eyes open wide and turning my head to make the words focus. In the end, I was exhausted, my nervous system stressed, and my eyes fried. Dan worked for an hour to try to put the recorded fragments together in a smooth, natural-sounding flow. He did it, but he said it was too much work for both of us. No way were we going to record the audio book ourselves.

Since then, my eyes have remained at the level of sight that they were at the end of my time trying to read. Picture looking through a sheet of transparent, gold-colored plastic. I also have extreme sensitivity to light and can’t look long at the computer screen, even at the darkest setting. That’s what that long-staring did for me.

My eye doctors have all told me that looking at the computer screen will not hurt my eyes. I’ve asked several times (I’ve had several doctors) to make sure, because it felt to me as if I didn’t see as well after working on my writing for an hour or two. But the doctors always assured me that it was okay. And after a day or two, my sight would return to “normal” (for me). So far, this time my eyes have not returned to normal.

Meanwhile, an RP friend sent me a report from a researcher who is treating eye diseases with an injection (ugh). I learned very important facts about eyes from that article. It said that seeing creates waste products in the eye (probably the way muscle movement creates lactic acid in the muscles) but the diseased retina cannot clear the waste products that occur from processing light because of reduced oxygen to the eye. The unprocessed waste causes further deterioration to the eye.

Bright light is one thing that causes more waste products because the eye has to work harder to process light. Well, that explains a lot. I think if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have been as stubborn about trying to make the audio book recording.

I’ve been careless about wearing dark glasses and a hat, thinking that sunlight would be good for my eyes. So now I’m being diligent to do both and I’m spending shorter periods looking at my computer screen, though sensitivity to glare has now made it much more uncomfortable, and that’s a good deterrent.

I did “burn” my eyes one other time—it was on the eleventh edit of Steady Hedy. The golden light and pain upon viewing my screen remained a problem for a few months, but then the symptoms subsided. I suppose it took that long for my eyes to process the waste. The RP friend suggested that perhaps a reason the RP drops might be effective is if they help the eye process the waste. I will let you know if I recover faster than last time. Meanwhile, I see gold—and sand. I forgot to mention the sand.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the warning to heart. I know the physiology. I’m convinced it IS detrimental to my eyes to look at the computer screen for long periods of time and I’m taking care to shut my eyes when I don’t need to be seeing (such as when I’m listening to my email). I’m treating my eyes with microcurrent (my father’s invention, so of course I didn’t think to use it) and doing my best to keep my general stress level down.

I hope this information will help you take better care of your eyes too. Sight is precious. I’m grateful that I can still see even though everything is gold right now.


  1. Judy Stout

    May 4, 2011 - 5:09 AM

    Thank you for teaching me about light-sensitivity. My eyes prefer less light instinctively and have for years. I use photo-sensitive lenses in my glasses and this helps a lot. I try to sit with my back to a window if I have a choice. This is more restful for my eyes. I try to protect my hearing as well. If there is a really loud noise somewhere I simply do what I can to avoid it. I can better understand now why I need this protection. Judy

    • Carolyn Wing Greenlee

      May 4, 2011 - 9:25 AM

      You’re wise to listen to your body, Judy. For so many years I simply barged on through, bearing the glare if I forgot my dark glasses, not wanting to inconvenience someone by changing places at the restaurant so I’d face away from the window. The problem with waste in the eyes applies to everyone, not just those with RP. Macular Degeneration is another condition that is helped with the injections, so anti-oxidents and being mindful of bright light would be helpful to those with that eye problem as well. I hadn’t thought about protecting my hearing. Good thinking! Thanks for passing on your helpful thoughts.

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