"I'm happy to say that the problem is not with your vision. In fact, your eyes look absolutely perfect."
She looks up at me from my test results, and I blink furiously at her through my chemically dilated pupils.
"Your retinas are absolutely fine. The pressure is normal. There is no constriction of any kind. Your eyes are healthy."
"Then what do you think might be causing the issue?" I ask.
"Well, now that we've eliminated vision issues, the problem can only lie within your brain, and the way it's handling stress. Lack of sleep, relaxation or exercise, and overstimulation are all factors. Are you experiencing any of those?"
"All of the above."
"Hmm... and what did you say your career is?"
"I have two. Marketing and Photography. I do one during the day, and the other during evenings and weekends... and sometimes during lunch"
"Right," she peers at me knowingly,"and in both of those jobs the emphasis is on the visual, correct?"
"So you don't take too many breaks from looking at screens or through your camera?"
"Not really, no"
"Well, seeing as Christmas is coming up, I'm going to unofficially prescribe you as much rest as possible. If you're still having these experiences after that, go straight to a medical doctor."
I thank her and walk out of my optometrist's office, disoriented and unable to really see for the next four hours due to the drops she gave me to look at my retinas.
For the past few months, I've been experiencing blind spots, temporary vision loss, and very strange flashing lights that encircle my vision in jagged lines. After being terrified each time this has occurred, I finally got up the nerve to investigate what might be happening and found out that I've been having optical migraines (Google image it). While painless, optical migraines are visual disturbances that temporarily affect your ability to see, often precede a typical (painful) migraine, and generally scare the hell out of you. Most often, they are triggered by stress.
Coincidentally, during the past few months I've been working harder and longer than I have in a long time. I have so many goals and aspirations and such a defined picture of what I want my future to look like that I am unable to stop myself from working.
As a photographer, and as a very visual person, I know that vision is precious beyond words. Being able to see is something I never, not for one millisecond, take for granted. I look to the world around me for inspiration. I previsualize before every shoot. I have a photographic memory that plays a huge part in how I function.
I also work constantly to hone my vision as a photographer by defining my style and perpetually refining the way I see and capture the world through my camera. The extent to which I've devoted myself to this has begun to yield results that professionally satisfy me, but has also created a lifestyle devoid of rest. I can't stop working because every hour that I'm not working makes me feel exponentially farther from where I want to be.
When my optometrist essentially explained to me that lifestyle and not my eyes were causing the ocular migraines, I breathed a mini sigh of relief. I immediately realized, however, the irony that my vision of my future is what's affecting my ability to see.
Here's to kicking off a holiday season full of rest, regeneration, and renewed vision!
Day 1/30. As a side note, I've decided to take photographer Tim King up on his 30 day blogging challenge. My busy season is slowing down, so I actually have some free time to devote to writing!