Writers with bad eyesight

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Mark.W.Carson
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Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Mark.W.Carson » January 13th, 2012, 1:14 pm

So... after struggling with "mediocre" vision, I dipped my eyes into the water and got them laser corrected (PRK not LASIK, and I am glad I did not do LASIK). The struggle there was that I could not write for a long time because your vision gets hazy and fuzzy afterward. I still don't feel comfortable sitting and writing at my computer, but it is getting better. The time off did give me a lot of time to rethink elements of my story, and I think it will only make it better.

Anybody else opt for vision correction? Anybody with any questions, because I'd be glad to relay the horrors :).

Rachel Ventura
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Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 7:38 pm

I wear glasses and have thought of getting laser correction. Purely for aesthetic purposes; I hate wearing them, because I look like a nerd, although without them I'm moderately attractive. (OK, mildly. Very mildly.) But contacts irritate my eyes, and I'll do anything to stop Dorothy Parker's famous words from haunting me the rest of my life. :( I don't believe in this whole notion of "specs appeal" or "geek chic" as anything more than propaganda meant to make (or try and make) people believe that girls who wear glasses don't have fat a$$es, and get plenty of passes without failing their classes. :lol: The last thing I want to look like is some old, frumpy spinster sitting out on her front porch in a rocking chair petting her cat in her lap while she knits, talks to herself, and the cat "spins a yarn." :lol:

Unfortunately, it is very expensive and most insurances don't cover it. I've heard a lot of bad things about it, and I've heard that people with astigmatism (which is what I have) are sometimes not good candidates. Also, because I'm young, that there's a greater likelihood I'd need to have it done again as I get older, and that there's only so many times one can have it done. I can read very well without glasses, but cannot legally drive without them, and you can bet I don't want to take a chance of how I'd fare without the geek goggles on. (I'm fervently committed to never seeing the road through beer goggles, though.) :D

I hadn't heard of PRK before; far as I understood, that meant People's Republic of Korea. :lol: If you can fill me in on that, I'd really appreciate it. Also if you can provide any "insight" as to whether or not one gets those "ghost" reflections from car headlights when driving at night, a strange glare, especially with those awful blue-white ones some drivers have.

But there's an article in, I believe, The Writer just recently about tools for people with poor eyesight or other disabilities: Screen readers are one, but another to look into is text to speech or in this case, speech to text. They mention Dragon Naturally Speaking (which, I know, sounds like a hokey martial arts movie) as premier in the field; you talk, and it converts your conversation to words on a page. In the TV ad some kid who's struggling with writing papers says he does better when "talking out" the paper rather than writing it. This might help me, too, regardless of the eyesight factor (which is fine even without the glasses), but since I wouldn't doubt if I have ADD or something like that preventing me from converting the words "in my head" to actual text in Word or Scrivener. (Scrivener just released a version for Windows due to high customer demand. Obviously following what Microsoft did for the Mac in releasing Office for O.S.X.) I haven't tried it yet, but something like that seems like it'd be better than a tape-recorded dictation, not only because I can't stand the sound of my voice on tape, and would never even listen to the recording afterwards, but also because it'd cut down a step between recording to typing.

If looking at the screen is bothersome you might try something like Dragon Naturally Speaking, where you could probably dictate a whole novel with the monitor turned off. (And then brag to all your friends that you wrote a whole novel blindfolded, with your hands tied behind your back. Especially if it's some steamy BDSM Harlequin novel.) :lol: :lol: :lol:

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Mark.W.Carson » January 13th, 2012, 10:50 pm

I don't know. I know some very attractive women with glasses. My wife was an example, but she had PRK a few months before I did. I don't like glasses because they seem like an anchor to me, and they made my head and eyes hurt when I transitioned from using them to not (I had very little myopia, so I only really used them to see blackboards or drive, and didn't even get my first (AND ONLY) pair until high school.

Well, as far as the types of correction, let me just tell you, my background is in research so I did a bunch. Here are the major players when it comes to fixing your eyes with an excimer laser (UV cold laser).

(By the way, I'm not a salesman for this, I just do a ton of research around stuff. I spent 6 months researching diamonds, cuts, etc before I bought my wife a ring).

You can do PRK. It is older than LASIK, which stands for Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis. PRK stands for Photorefractive keratectomy.
In PRK, they don't cut the eye, which they do for LASIK. Instead, the eyes are numbed, held open with instruments, and a mechanical brush is applied to the eyeball for a few seconds to scrape off the top layer of cells called the epithelium. This grows back a few days later and is not part of the "cornea proper." They then use a laser to reshape your cornea, and it can even correct for slight movements in the eye because it tracks the pupil. It's cool, but freaked me out because they were all touching my eye with stuff and the brush made my eye move and I "felt it" but it didn't hurt. They then run a cool liquid across the eye and put in a contact as a bandage that stays in for 3-7 days (both of mine fell out early, which is rare, but not for me, as that's why I don't wear contacts).

The first day, you are tired, and they have usually given you something like xanax or ativan to keep you calm during the procedure so you are a wash, but you need to use the drops they give you and eye shields. The second day you are told to keep yourself from bright lights, wear sunglasses, and put in the boatload of drops on schedule, as well as using wetting drops religiously because your eyes will be dry and irritated while the epithelium heals. Rinse and repeat for about 5 days until the contacts can come out, and then you keep using the drops or move to new ones. Day 2for me was not bad, but for a lot of people, day 1-3 is horrific with pain and watering to light, and overall eye pain. I didn't use my comfort (numbing) drops much at all until my contact fell out on the 3d day, and then some vicodin to sleep off the pain for 5 hrs and then I was back and ok again. My vision the day after was great, they told me it was 20/30 in one eye and 20/50 in the other. I was 20/60 in both with slight astigmatism. The healing process takes weeks and reading from a computer was a bigtime chore for the first 7 or 8 days, but was better if my eye was kept moist. Today is day 9 and it is not hard, but not as good as it was.

Basically, with PRK you don't cut the eye, so you reduce complications from creating a flap (LASIK cuts the cornea, severs some nerves causing a high likelihood of permanent dry eye, but you heal faster (never fully, the flap can tear or flip up years later). With PRK you saccrifice a longer healing period for eye stability and easier touch ups, but with the same pain again.

Other options are EPI-LASIK where they don't remove the epithelium with a brush, they lift it with a microkeratome (small knife) and then place it back down when done. You save yourself some pain, but it still sucks and it is a newer procedure

LASEK where they use chemicals to loosen the epithelium (alcohol) and replace it again, see above

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Mark.W.Carson » January 13th, 2012, 11:01 pm

OH, and about the cost. I got a groupon discount (so did the wife) but I added an extra for the wavefront custom job on my eyes. There are financing options available, and let me tell you, that once you do it, there is no OK "It hurts" or "My eyes are watering and fuzzy, make it stop" because it is a done deal. There were a few days where I really wanted to read something and just couldn't, but the vision is crisping up and I am glad I did it.

Rachel Ventura
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Joined: September 30th, 2011, 12:29 am

Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 16th, 2012, 6:54 pm

Thanks for all the research, Mark. I don't use Groupon because I tend to shy away from social network sites in general. Money being involved, or consumer purchases, amps up my paranoia a lot more. (All eyes on me, in more ways than one.) 8-) I hope you'll try out the Dragon program, at least for the trial. Some people swear by it; others say it's got too much of a learning curve. I'm going solely on reviews and the advertisement with the ADD-ish kid who said that the words for his high school term papers flowed out freely when he was speaking them rather than writing them. (This is kind of me except with "real" writing and not school writing.) :D I kind of disagree about the specs appeal, though; not saying you or your wife aren't aesthetically pleasing, just that Hollywood glamour (the kind people like me aim for) doesn't usually involve looking "bookish." The old Burgess Meredith episode of The Twilight Zone comes to mind immediately as an example. Had this been "Meredith Burgess," then she would probably trade her books and glasses for any chance of winning Mr. Right. (One exception where looking "smart" doesn't necessarily mean being smart is none other than Sarah Palin... you betcha.) ;)

I have an extremely low, in fact close to nonexistent, tolerance for pain or discomfort/intrusion. I wonder, though, since it is the eyes (which we of course keep open while awake), if total anesthesia is possible. Apologies for the "TMI" but as an example, I once had an infected ingrown toenail taken care of at a podiatrist's office, and he said that I was the first patient he'd ever had who had to be TKO'ed just for something like that! :roll:

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Mark.W.Carson » January 16th, 2012, 7:15 pm

I tried Dragon Naturally Speaking back in 2001. It was woefully bad, but that was on Windows 2000 with an Athlon 700 and a whopping 192MB of RAM. I am sure it is much better, but I am a fast typist, and I can see much better now :).

As for pain, I can usually take quite a lot :).

Rachel Ventura
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Joined: September 30th, 2011, 12:29 am

Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 16th, 2012, 9:23 pm

mark54g wrote:I am a fast typist, and I can see much better now :)
Good for you. :) Johnny Nash feels the same way. 8-)



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkwJ-g0iJ6w

JohnDurvin
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Re: Writers with bad eyesight

Post by JohnDurvin » July 28th, 2012, 11:44 am

Re the tangent from a few posts ago: I can honestly say that I personally make passes at girls who wear glasses. If you don't think they look good on you, by all means don't wear them, but for the moment it looks like Western culture is becoming a lot more accepting of them.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

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