Finding A Simple Solution To Dry Eyes, Computer Vision Syndrome And Bigger Problems

My transition from online bookselling back to full-time writing brought with it an unintended consequence: eye problems.

I’ve always been able to see perfectly (despite wearing glasses for a bit — see below), and suddenly having problems looking at my computer monitor for more than 15 minutes was a bit scary.

Dealing with pain in my right eye made me wonder if I could be developing a serious condition, and the scaliness of my eyelids made me wonder if I was headed for a lifetime of skin problems that would throw me off track and keep me from reaching my goal of returning to a full-time writing career.

It was a big mess.

Getting To The Right Treatment

Of course, my mind tends to let things spiral out of control.

When I finally visited an optometrist, he told me that most of his business now is dealing with very similar problems.

My local writing friend Eric Parker (who, for some reason, spells his name Erik on Yahoo! Contributor Network and HubPages) has had similar problems, and he even started a website called Clear Your Eyes aimed at helping people overcome computer-related eye problems.

When I was in high school and into my early 20s, I wore glasses, supposedly for astigmatism in my right eye. When my computer-related eye problems started, I assumed the astigmatism was worsening.

I had stopped wearing glasses when I discovered that I never needed them in the first place. My headaches when I tried to read for very long were actually caused by neck problems and allergies, not eye problems. I had treated my problems with glasses when I needed Tylenol, Claritin and a chiropractor.

Although problems with close-up tasks aren’t supposed to start until you’re over 40, my optometrist said that many career computer users have the same problem I do.

While he didn’t use the term, it’s often called computer vision syndrome. Do you have it too?

My Solution

My inherited tendency toward dry eyes combined with my use of antihistamines and the hours a day I spend in front of a computer monitor meant my eyes were so dry they ached. I already knew this, however, and was using artificial tears drops. But I needed stronger eye drops made for dry eyes.

The additional pain was caused from overusing certain muscles in my eyes. I knew that, too, but frequent breaks and eye exercises didn’t help. Low-powered reading glasses — lower than any of the ones you can find in drugstores — were all I needed to almost eliminate the eye strain.

When my eyes were hurting, I touched them frequently, spreading bacteria to my eyelids and causing skin problems. Solve the eye problems, then a little balm is all that’s needed to clear up the skin problems.

The solution to months of increasing pain, itchiness, scaliness and fear about my general health was some oily eye drops and some flimsy +0.50 reading glasses that I ordered online.

The Spiraling Thing

As I said, my brain seems to enjoy downward spirals.

While I’ve been writing about the positive changes in my life over the past couple of years, you may have noticed notes of despair in posts over the past few months. If you didn’t, it means you weren’t looking or I was hiding them well that day.

The eye problems combined with a recurring back problem and the financial uncertainties I’ve mentioned here — along with my family’s general tendency toward ill-health — were really getting me down. It’s hard to be hopeful when circumstances conspire against your plans.

Today, however, things are looking great on all front. I solved the eye problems several weeks ago (although they still hurt sometimes) and new opportunities arise every day for financial improvements. I’ve been taking a bit better care of myself, too. I may come from a family of people who fall apart early, but some of them stayed healthy. Maybe I can too.

The notes of despair now sound discordant, and I hope they’re fading away.

Part of living a simple, deliberate life is confronting every issue that tries to derail your life and using whatever means necessary to make it go away or fade into the background.

New opportunities seem to be springing up everywhere, and I can see them clearly. What’s keeping you from your opportunities?


  1. I didn’t know you were having eye trouble, Gip, but I’m glad you found a solution. That should help your productivity.

    I’ve worn glasses (or contact lenses) for distance vision since my 20’s. I’ve always been able to read without, but my comfortable reading distance (with a book) has gotten closer over the years, and I find myself leaning in sometimes to read the computer screen comfortably. Maybe I should try some low-powered readers. I’ve seen them at Walgreen’s from 0.25 on up; I’m surprised you had to go online to find 0.5.

    1. Yes, it’s already helping my productivity a lot. Low-powered readers are amazoing things for me. They might help you too.

      I don’t remember getting an email about your most recent post, so I’m off to read it now.


  2. To answer your question, Gip – myself. Yes, I am keeping me from my opportunities. But you’ve inspired me today with “Part of living a simple, deliberate life is confronting every issue that tries to derail your life and using whatever means necessary to make it go away or fade into the background.” I’ve been experiencing more derailers lately than I’d like and need to start confronting and resolving them one at a time. So thanks for the reminder!

    1. It feels amazingly good to solve even one problem, so imagine how great it would feel to solve them all.

      When you get out of your way, you might be surprised what you can be.

  3. In my family I’m known as “worst-case scenario woman,” but I prefer to call it an active imagination. 😉 I also know where you’re coming from, Gip, I’ve been extremely near-sighted my whole life and have to reign in excessive use of my eyes to avoid strain. Studying for college finals under fluorescent lights landed me a week of nothing but sitting in a chair waiting for the burning to stop. We all deserve a shot at good health and a good life. I’m glad you are not letting the trials of being human derail your present and future. Love the last line, “New opportunities seem to be springing up everywhere, and I can see them clearly.”

    1. If you have burning again, try Blink eye drops. Along with the reading glasses, they have nearly solved my problems.

      I like to consider the worst case scenarios in life, too, but I’m beginning to realize I shouldn’t even think about them. It’s better to be unprepared once than overprepared for a lifetime. All of these challenges are, as you say, just the trials of being human.


  4. My first thought about your question was blaring “KIDS!” I often use them as an excuse for not fully living my life. While they do cause roadblocks, those roadblocks don’t leave the street fully blocked. I DO have some opportunities available, I just have to get over the being a “stay at home mom” aspect and buck up.

    As for the spiraling thoughts, boy, do I understand!! The Hubs always jokes he wants to block MayoClinic & WebMD because it’s always something new with me haha! For those of us who are constant thinkers, it’s hard to stop our brains long enough to decide if we’re being rational or not. I’m so glad to hear you found a solution, and also agree with the idea that simplifying allows us to stop and think more clearly 🙂

    1. For every opportunity that having kids takes away from you, I suspect it opens up another one.

      I’m getting better about the spiraling thing, but it still happens… frequently.

      Thanks for commenting again, Megyn.

  5. GIP!!!
    i cant’ believe i don’t visit your blog more often. i always enjoy your perspective on everything! shame tammy, shame.
    i’m adding you now to my favorites bar so you will no longer be out of sight out of mind!
    i loved your post on ‘the half’ of everything. very well done. such waste in this land of ours… too much of everything.
    as to the eye thing, since retiring i have been spending as long on the computer as i did at work almost… and my eyes are finally saying “enough!”
    i use similac drops for dry eyes and also their allergic drops. you and i both live in ‘allergy land’… texas and oklahoma. aaaggghhh!
    at least now we’re having some cooler mornings. and i’m loving it.
    you have a wonderful voice gip and valued things to say.
    when you have a spiraling moment … just read this comment!
    there are probably many more lazy people out there like me that love your blog but forget to say so!
    tammy j

    1. I’m glad you’re reading now, Tammy. It’s good to have you here.

      I’ve used several kinds of eye drops, and I still use allergy eye drops sometimes. You’re right: This is allergy land around here. I’ve heard Dallas is one of the worst cities for allergies, and I’m not that far from it.

      I appreciate the kind and uplifting comments, and I hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks.

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