Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eye Health Tips for the Writer

Give me a second while I step away from the lensometer, shrug on my white lab coat, arrange my PD stick, and make sure I have all the right pens in my pockets.


Now that that's done, I should tell you, I'm writing this post as an optician AND a writer.

How are your eyes doing? More specifically, how's your vision? I ask because spending hours at a time, staring at an illuminated screen, searching those little commas and letters, can take its toll. And while I plan to touch on a few vision issues noticed by writers, today I want to talk to you about prism.

Depending on what you're dealing with prism can mean a few different things. For instance, Katy Perry's new album is called Prism. (It's pretty good, by the way.)

But here's the definition as it relates to your vision: When you have prism, it means your eyes are not aligned in how they see things. For instance your right eye may see an object slightly lower or higher than your left. Or maybe farther right or left. This can result in double or blurred vision.

Oftentimes you won't know for sure if this is happening. And the reason I bring this up to you all is because if you need a slight or low prism correction you won't notice the necessity in everyday life. Our brains are pretty amazing at compensating for this need. Except when you're tired and when you're reading.

Here's how it works, if one eye sees things higher than the other, the brain has to work that much harder to line up words on the page, just so you can read them. Because your brain is working overtime to place these words in a straight line, it's less capable of retaining what you just read.

When you're super tired and watching TV, your brain wants to rest for the night, so it's more likely to give you a headache till you call it quits, or you'll close one eye without realizing it, just so your brain can stop trying to match up the image on the TV screen.

Make sense? See why I bring this up to my fellow writers?

So what are the signs that you need to be checked for prism? I'm glad you asked.

~ Difficulty driving at night.
~ Issues with depth perception.
~ Notice you close one eye when you're tired.
~ Headaches while reading or studying.
~ Unable to fully comprehend as you read.
~ Must re-read a sentence over and over to retain it.
~ Using your finger or another object to keep your place while reading.
~ Tightness in your shoulders and/or neck.

If this list rings true for you, go to a trusted optometrist and ask to be tested for prism during your next refraction (when they give you a glasses prescription). The test is quick and non-evasive. If you do have prism, wearing corrective lenses will ease the strain of studying story research, editing, and even pleasure reading. It'll help you retain the information you read much easier, and lessen the headaches.

Stay tuned for my next post about eye health where I'll explain the different correction lenses for reading and computer use.

Have a question? Feel free to leave it in the comments or email me directly. :)    


  1. My eyes seem to be worse some days, and better other days. There are times when I try to read my computer screen and can't without my glasses, but times when my glasses seem to make it worse....but I think that's astigmatism because *once* my optician mentioned it, and no one has since lol. I had chronic dry eye and a viral infection in the eye at one point, and it made my vision all weird even with my glasses. Me and my eyes haven't had a good relationship since.

    1. When was the last time you had an eye exam? Also, I'll email you about the other things. :)

  2. Ooh, what a great post! As a nearsighted diabetic who spends a lot of time on the computer making art, I tend to worry about my eyesight. I've never heard of prism till now, so now I can keep it in mind in case I ever notice my eyes doing something wonky!

    1. Glad it's helpful! Yes, prism isn't something often talked about. I'm glad you're proactive with your eye health! They're the only eyes you'll ever get. :)

  3. Fascinating! Good for me to watch for, and I think I'll ask my kids about it, too, and maybe have them checked. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Wow. This is a great post.
    I have had terrible vision since I was about 8 and have been wearing glasses (later switched to contacts) since then, so anything eye-related always gets my attention. I'm glad you brought this up. Not very many people pay much attention to their eyes.

  5. You are a very knowledgable optician! Excellent post! I'm a writer and an optometrist. And I'm looking at your list of signs of when people need prism and I get 5 out of 8! Why had I never thought about that? I've been tested for phorias in the past, but I think the results are highly dependent on my fatigue level. Nothing was really repeatable. But how sweet of you to share this with the writing community.
    Happy writing!