New Glasses and the Right Doctor: Curing My Vision-Related Migraines and Vertigo
Kids are rough on glasses
I've worn glasses since I was 6. Most kids hated theirs, I loved mine. Even at that age, I loved to read, and quickly realized the advantage of being able to see what I'm looking at.
What I lacked was the maturity to take proper care of them. Lost, scratched, twisted, broken, the list gets kind of long. My most spectacular mishap involved being first to the door when school let out. There was a passel of kids behind me, and the door didn't open. By the time I'd been pulled out from under the crowd, my glasses were bent in a 'V' shape at the bridge.
It just seems to come with childhood. If it can be broken, it will be.
Kids with glasses = Parents with problems
My parents must have lived In dread. They spent hours retracing my steps until we found my glasses, or re-visiting the doctor to replace another lens. One doctor said my eyes would get worse through my life. He didn't know I was behind him. I thought he meant I would go blind, but Mom and Dad spent years reassuring me that he just meant my vision would follow a natural aging process.
The Natural Aging Process... hit me like a brick!
What does all that have to do with anything now? Well… I've aged. I'm 51 this year. That natural aging process? Living the adventure. I've seen how miserable it can be when your eyes are bad. And how much better it can be with the right help.
One Hour Service? Not Likely.
For most of my life, my glasses and I got along well, with some exceptions. I've never been able to use one-hour eyeglass services. No matter how much better technology gets, my vision has always stayed ahead of the curve. When I ask for one-hour service, they always say MY vision requires a 'special' prescription that can't be done in a local lab.
Well, darn. Okay, so how often do I really need new glasses? Every few years? Not enough to make an issue out of one hour service.
It all started when I turned 30
The real trouble began after 30. Until then, my glasses were always real glass. Especially with the advent of photo-sensitive lenses. My eyes were beginning to be sensitive to light, and photo-grays were a Godsend. But as my vision worsened, the weight of the glasses began cutting into the bridge of my nose. If I ran, they bounced, and cut me. If I took them off, I had no contact with the world around me, and couldn't stand the sense of isolation. Mostly, I avoided sports and physical activities. I still loved to read, and had discovered home computers by the mid-80s. So it's not like I really missed all that activity!
Migraines come in a variety pack
A few years later, I began suffering migraines. But not the painful, pounding hurting kind. These took my sight away temporarily. Not much pain, just a low ache deep in the skull, and varying blind spots. Sometimes the blind spot just affected whatever I was looking at. Sometimes, all it left me was some peripheral vision. Rarely, it took everything away. At first, nobody could tell me what was happening. I figured it was stress related, because, obviously, there was a lot of stress at the time.
As a side issue, there's another form of migraine that includes colorful visual effects. I've had those off and on since childhood, enough so that I just figured everybody did, and nobody talked about it. Later, I heard about auras, and decided I must be seeing auras. Finally, I learned about the migraines with visual effects, and made the connection. No, Dad. I wasn't getting all mystical on you.
Bring on the pain... and rest in the darkness
Eventually, the painful migraines began appearing. I learned that stress is a big factor, but so is eye strain. And, of course, I was still growing older, my vision getting worse, and no cure in sight. The more I used my eyes, the worse it got. Some days I just covered my face with a cold wet cloth, darkened the room, and went to bed.
Caffeine, Excedrin, and Petadolex
Certain things help. Caffeine helps a lot. It may ruin my sleep, but heck, I wasn't sleeping anyway.
Migraine-strength Excedrin and Petadolex both help, but Petadolex has a limited window of usefulness. Taken at the very first sign of migraine, it's effective for me. Once the migraine is established, Petadolex is useless. (Petadolex is extracted from Butterbur root.) That's been my experience, anyway.
If you try Petadolex, remember to take it as soon as you feel a migraine coming on!
This speaks to me:
How many blind guys are driving on the streets of Georgia?
By then, my vision was really getting bad. I lived in Texas for a couple of years, and could not pass the driver's visual. So they took my license away. That was tough. It's hard to work around the transportation limitation and still make a living.
Eventually, I moved back home to Georgia. Someone said "Hey, Georgia has pretty relaxed laws, why don't you take the driver's test again?" So once more, I tested for a license. Much to my surprise, they said "You see fine. Take this license, and hit the road."
At first, I was thrilled. Then I thought "Wait a minute- how many nearly blind drivers… like me… are on the road?"
Grain of salt time. I drive when I need to, with caution and a certain 'granny' feel to my driving. And I always watch for others like me on the road. Because, well, one of me at a time is plenty.
I'm tired of "Adapting"
Then I hit my forties. Doctors no longer told me what great shape I was in. Instead, they'd say "You've adapted well." As in, your vision sucks, you can't see worth a flip, but my, 'You’ve adapted well!'.
Do you know what "adapted well" really means? It means you can't fix what's wrong, so just get used to it. And do you know what 40 means? Tri-focals. Forget bifocals. I went straight to the big 3, and from that moment, things went downhill. Always tilting my head to try and focus. Reading, always one of my greatest joys, became a painful struggle. Eventually I couldn't read at all with my glasses. I'd take them off and put the book an inch from my eyes. Working on the computer, a major part of my job and my hobbies, became equally difficult.
Bring on the Vertigo
Now in my 50's, Monique noticed I was complaining of vertigo. It seemed connected to my vision. If I took my glasses off, I couldn't see anything, but the vertigo would go away. The more I used my glasses, the worse the dizziness. This is a problem, because I live in my glasses. I never lose them. If I'm not wearing glasses, it means I'm sleeping, or showering. At least I don't run around the house looking for my glasses when I'm already wearing them.
Our Expert Optician
When Lightning Strikes
So Monique made me get (another) eye exam. I didn't expect miracles, but figured any help would be an improvement. One of our best friends works at Stay Focused, in Brunswick, Georgia. She set up an appointment, I went, and had one of those life-changing moments that sometimes just come out of the blue.
Can you see better now?
Gave up sleep in my 20's
To begin with, Dr. Everett came in, introduced himself as Bill, and ran me through a bunch of the usual tests. Read this. What's the lowest line you can see? Is THIS better, or THIS? So many times, I wasn't even sure I could tell a difference. But we went through it all. Multiple times.
When he finished, we talked about how I use my eyes. I told him 18 hours a day on the computer, 6 reading, and I gave up sleep in my late 20's. Yes, I was exaggerating. No, not by much. Dr. Everett knew what I meant. I could tell he thought I strained them too much, but he didn't fuss at me.
Doctor knows best... Don't argue with me, son!
Up to this point in my life, eye doctors invariably did one thing. They told me what I needed. Nobody asked my opinion, and if I ventured to give it, they weren't impressed. Since my first trifocals, the migraines and vertigo kept getting worse. I've asked my last three eye doctors about getting 2 pairs of glasses, one for my constant close-up work, and another pair for distance. Without fail, they've all pulled the wise old 'father knows best' act and ignored me.
Stay Focused Eye Care
A Doctor Who Actually Listens
Not Dr. Everett. When I timidly suggested that I might have an opinion, he truly wanted to hear it. When I suggested 2 pairs of glasses, he said "That's exactly what I was going to recommend!" Wow… he respected my opinion! I don't have to be right, but it sure is nice to be respected.
He did suggest the dedicated pair be targeted about 18 inches from my face, for computer work. And that the general use glasses consist of an extreme closeup range, and a distance range. That way I won't have to change glasses at all while I'm out. Like when I'm driving. Or reading labels at the grocery store.
For the first time in a decade or more, I was excited about my new glasses. Couldn't wait to get them. The first pair to arrive was the computer work glasses. I took to them like a duck to water. Adapt? I don't need no stinking 'adapt'!. They just worked. Right away. A couple of days later, the other pair arrived. I could see detail, for the first time in years. I didn't expect to see so much improvement. With the general use pair, it took some time getting used to them… I've used the trifocals for over 3 years.
Dizziness Gone. Migraines Fading. Goodbye Bad Glasses
So what's the payoff to all of this? The vertigo and migraines. The dizziness has faded almost totally away. I think it will disappear completely, or nearly so, as I get used to the new focal ranges. As far as the migraines go, they've also been fading away. I didn't realize how much of my problems were caused by bad glasses.
I'll probably have some level of migraines the rest of my life. After all, I've had them since childhood. But the worst of them, the ones I've been constatly suffering from for the last few years, are gone. I haven't had a migraine in weeks now!
Thanks to the team at "Stay Focused"
What's my point?
If you don't share my problems, this hub probably bored you. If you read this and thought "That's Me!"… I was writing for you. If you've got a doctor that ignores you, bullies you, or doesn't have time for you… find another. I honestly thought I was the problem, and that things would never get better. Until I found an eye doctor that listened to me, knew what he was doing, and made my life better.
To Doctor Everett at Stay Focused Eyecare (and Tanya, and all the great people there!), I love my new glasses- both pairs. I see better, and feel better. Thank you!
(Addendum: On the off chance you live near enough to visit them, Stay Focused is based in Brunswick Georgia, and can be reached at 912-265-8852.)
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