That Perfect 20/20 Vision… Or The Lack Thereof

As I inched towards the year 2020, the world seemed to have slowly faded away. By the end of 2019, my vision had literally deteriorated to a blur. I could not even view the world through rose tinted glasses; in fact I was virtually unable to view the world. Full stop.

The diminished acuity of your vision is as if you were to you look through a bubble.
The world as I saw it in November 2019, without focus.
Image by Author

When My World Spiralled Downwards

It was November 2019 when my eyes had rapidly turned red. While they weren’t smarting, nor tearing, my visual acuity was barely beyond five metres. My vision was all a blur; by then the glasses were of little use and certainly the contact lenses were redundant. I feared so much. Perhaps I have developed cataracts, I thought. Or was my world slowly turning dark? Literally and metaphorically speaking, I seemed to have lost all vision for the future.

Seeking Help For An Improved Vision

I desperately sought a trusted ophthalmologist, and was recommended Dr Hazlita Dato’ Mohd Isa at the Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Eye Centre. An angel indeed in my needy dim hours, her initial task was to comfort and reassure me that this was a temporary setback.

Determine the clarity of your vision with glasses as you view the eye test chart.
Even with my glasses, I could hardly make out the alphabets on the eye test chart.
Photo credit: David Travis on Unsplash

This took some persuasion though, as I had come away from having read only up to the second line of the eye test chart. Dr Hazlita then captured images of my eyes, revealing the badly damaged corneas that had significantly impaired my vision. I had sustained these abrasions due to severe dry eyes that developed through the prolonged usage of ill-fitting lenses. Poor oxygenation to the cornea provides an arid and hostile host to the contact lens; and this often resulted in my repeatedly tugging at my lenses each time I remove them.

Treating The Offender

I braced myself at the prospect of what the treatment might entail. Naturally fearing any surgical procedures, I breathed an audible sigh of relief when Dr Hazlita emphasised on the need to keep my eyes constantly lubricated. That was all there is to it. I learnt, or should I say was reminded, that when the cornea becomes damaged, it is generally able to repair itself to normal function.

Preservative-free eye drops were the order of the day. I was recommended Hylo Gel eye drop for its intensive and long-lasting eye lubrication. Alternating this with Systane Hydration UD in single-use vials, I kept my eyes constantly rehydrated. The non-preservative nature of both eye-drops enables safe, frequent applications to address and correct the dryness.

Relief to the red eyes came from a short course of antibiotic eye drops to treat the inflamed conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white of the eye.

The other non-negotiable instruction is to completely avoid using contact lens. Vanity instantly took a backseat. I was due to attend a cousin’s wedding reception and though I pleaded for the doctor’s go-ahead to briefly use disposable contact lens, I could not, in all honesty, bring myself to even lift a finger to my eyes.

A week’s return visit saw marginal improvements in my vision. The eyes were no longer red, but I could still barely make out the alphabets on the eye test chart. Progress was indeed slow.

Trying To Keep To The Norm

Meanwhile I tried my best to carry on with my routines, mainly the daily household chores; cooking and cleaning were kept very basic whilst laundry did not include any ironing. The extensive scratches on the corneas have resulted in excessive light entering the eyes, indeed a glaring discomfort. This intensifies during the brightest of days and the darkest of nights when the sources of light were aplenty. My driving was severely debilitated by these eventualities.

And so, most days were spent at home, nursing the eyes; plying them with drops and constantly applying cold compress to soothe the discomfort. I could barely read, nor enjoy viewing anything on screen, be it the telephone, laptop or television. This afforded me the time to reflect on the year that was almost ending. One event that stood out was the London Marathon race, in which I had run under the charity banner of the Royal Society for Blind Children. How ironic.

For most part of the day, my eyes were often kept closed. It was the best I could do to help prevent my feelings of frustration and helplessness. Inevitably, I found myself wandering in and out of slumber. This overdrive in snooze control left me exceedingly restless.

Keeping To A Grounded Vision

On most days I went to the park for a run. These outings often lasted longer than usual. Not only was I working out my frustrations through the kilometres, I also took to the habit of grounding, a therapeutic practice that grounds or reconnects you to earth. Relying on earthing science and grounding physics, the idea is to channel the electrical charges from the earth thereby enabling a positive effect on the body.

Bare feet on the grass. I found this to be the easiest grounding exercise. and resorted to it to help reconnect to earth and help regain a better vision.
Barefoot in the park to keep me grounded. I found this to be the easiest grounding exercise and resorted to it to help reconnect to earth in hopes that it will sooner help me regain better vision.
Image by Author

And there you would find me, shoes slung over my shoulder by their laces, as I then walk the park; my feet laid bare as I traipsed through the dewy grass, and on occasions, gingerly stepping on the hard surface of soil, and occasional tarmac. Admittedly I delighted in the sensation of feeling the blades of grass between my toes, just as I would the squishy mud from the overnight rain. It calmed me somehow. Then I would soak my feet in the stream and vaguely watch the world go by or, keeping the eyes closed of course, enjoyed the sun on my face. All the while I tried my best to remain relaxed, needing to allay my frustrations and anxieties.

The cool stream on a sunny day.
Wading in the water and keeping time with nature, my solace from frustrations.
Image by Author

Great Big Hugs

Sunshine through the leaves, a perfect morning for forest bathing, Surrounded by greenery to help the vision correct itself.
Forest bathing on most weekends helped contain the restless spirit.
Photo credit: Mona Jamaluddin

At other times I would wander in the woods; the natural greenery being a balm for the eyes and for an extended spot of forest bathing. Also I would choose to hug a tree or two. Apparently this could increase the levels of oxytocin to encourage calmness; the seratonin and dopamine hormones would then bring forth a sense of happiness.

Hug a tree!
As long as I could, I hugged the tree. I needed to feel one with nature, and ease the tension that had built up through the anxious weeks of impaired vision.
Photo credit: Mona Jamaluddin

I Can See Clearly Now

My vision gradually improved. Follow-ups to the ophthalmologist were gradually spaced out to fortnightly visits; improvement was slow, but evident. More than six months since and my eyes are almost as right as rain. Still, I have avoided the use of contact lenses and somehow kept my vanity in check. The entire episode, as most are wont, was a lesson in itself. Never, ever take your eyes for granted and that patience is indeed a virtue!

An image of very dry eyes; the redness of inflamed conjunctiva and badly scratched corneas.
My eyes on my first visit to the doctor’s.
Image courtesy of Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Eye Centre

The image of sufficiently hydrated eyes and corrected cornea.
With constant lubrication of the eye drops, hardly any rubbing of the eyes and abstinence from the daily usage of contact lens, my vision had been restored.
Image courtesy of Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Eye Centre

Simple Rules

For contact lens users, Dr Hazlita recommends regular annual eye checks.

“Preventive measures are wiser and less stressful on your physical and emotional beings as with your expenses,” she stressed.

Also, seek the prescription from a reputable optician as opposed to on-line purchases of lenses.  

“The minimal usage of contact lens is advisable. The recommended hours should not be longer than eight hours; and within those, ensure the eyes are constantly lubricated. I would prefer my patients to use non-preservative eye drops.”

Dr Hazlita Dato’ Mohd Isa, Opthalmologist, Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Eye Centre

“But above all else, one should maintain good contact lens practice. Always remain diligent when you remove, cleanse and store your lenses,” she concluded.

Dr Hazlita Dato’ Mohd Isa at the Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Eye Centre.
Dr Hazlita had treated and comforted me, seeing me through the depressing period when I was literally blur!
Image by Author

Keeping Up The Vision With Healthy Eyes

  • Ensure that you maintain a good diet. Nutrients like vitamins A, C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and lutein will aid in age-related vision problems. Also, keeping to a healthy weight will help lower the odds of visual-related problems through obesity and diabetes.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses to reduce exposure form the sun’s UV rays. When exposed to airborne or hazardous materials, use safety glasses or protective goggles. Certain sporting activities are susceptible to eye injuries. Do ensure that the eyes are adequately protected.
  • Maintain regular eye-examinations.

Heaven forbid, are you encountering the same dilemma as I did? Or perhaps you would just like to have your eyes examined. A visit to Pusat Pakar Mata Eyecare Specialist Centre might just be what you need. You may contact them at +603 4141 9231 for an appointment. They are open daily from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm except Tuesday. Visit their website for a full list of services.

Azlina ALI

About Azlina ALI

Veteran journalist, wife, mother, with an ever burning passion to write and tell stories. Then throw in a dose of healthy diet and an active lifestyle, Azlina is a force to be reckon with. She's a lean, mean storytelling machine.

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