I'm not a doctor and I don't play a doctor on T.V. Gosh, I
don't even write about doctors. I'm not a nurse either, or a medical assistant.
Disclaimer established, let's talk about dry eyes and the writer. Whether
you're young and gorgeous, old and glorious, or something in between, if you're
putting on the writing mileage, you're either about to experience, experiencing
or recovering from a skirmish with dry eye syndrome.
The term "dry eye" applies to a wide range of
symptoms, from simple eye fatigue to severe, systemic eye disease. For me, it
began a few years ago, with tired eyes that burned and itched. I didn't think
much of it. We writers stare at the screen all day long, all night too, if
you're a night owl like me. I frequently clock twelve to fourteen-hour days on
my computer. Given the long hours and the increased use of digital devices,
more of us are suffering from what has been termed "computer vision
According to WebMD.com,
computer vision syndrome affects about 50%-90% of computer workers and is responsible for up to 10
million primary care eye examinations each year.
and I? We are not alone.
My problem worsened as my symptoms progressed. The burning
and itching became worse. Then my eyes began to ache. Sometimes, when I
scratched my eyes, the capillaries broke. Not pretty. Eventually, my eyes felt as
if they were coated with a perverse mix of glue and sand. My vision became
blurry. The light hurt my eyes. Working was hard. Sleeping was even harder.
When my eyeballs began to stick to my eyelids at night, I figured it was time to
pay a visit to the ophthalmologist.
Yeah, I know, a little late, but I'm dense, so zip it.
Once he finished his examination, the doctor made it
official. I'd made the leap from computer vision syndrome to severe dry eye
syndrome. He explained that, left untreated, dry eye disease can lead to complications,
including scratches in the cornea.
"A condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and
nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front
surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either
do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a
common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults."
Personally, I think they should amend this entry by downplaying
the part about "older adults"—which is true, of course, but would fit
in better with my personal denial patterns. I also think they should add that, based
on anecdotal information collected on writers' forums everywhere, dry eyes
syndrome affects lots of writers, young and old. I'm just saying. Maybe next
Back to my appointment. My doctor said that dry eyes are
more susceptible to infections and chronic inflammation, which is the culprit
of severe dry eye syndrome. To treat the problem, he recommended inserting tiny
silicon-based plugs in some of my tear ducts to keep my natural tears in the
eye for as long as possible. The procedure was simple and pain free, but within
a few weeks, one of the plugs came out. I decided against replacing it. Other
options included surgical procedures to permanently close the tear ducts. Since
the words "surgical" and "permanently" give me the
heebie-jeebies, I held out.
The doctor also prescribed one of the only medications
available to treat the underlying inflammation associated with dry eye syndrome.
He mentioned that it doesn't always work for all patients. It was very
expensive, health insurance only covered a portion of it, and it took weeks
before I noticed some relief, but over several weeks, the medication did provide
a measure of relief.
In addition, the ophthalmologist recommended a regimen of
preservative-free, over-the-counter, eye drops, at least four applications
throughout the working day. A quick foray into the world of eye drops revealed
that everyone has their favorite brand and what works for some doesn't work for
others. I tried many different brands to identify the ones that worked best for
me. I would recommend you do the same. By the way, cooled eye drops offer a
quick reprieve to the tired eye. I keep mine in the refrigerator.
Also very important, the doctor insisted that I should look
away from the screen several times each hour, allowing my eyes to focus on
other things. He told me to blink and blink often. He explained that tear
production is stimulated by blinking, which is something that we can "forget"
to do when we spend our days staring at backlit screens.
Geesh. Leave it to me to forget to blink.
If you feel you might be experiencing the symptoms of severe
dry eye disease, head out to see your ophthalmologist. Tell him Dora sent you.
If you are new to writing, if you're smart and you want to prevent damage to
your eyes, here's a quick list of things you could do to protect your eyes:
·Blink, blink, blink.
·Keep your eyes moist. Apply preservative-free
eye drops several times a day.
·Take breaks away from your computer. Several
websites advocate the 20-20-20 technique. Look away every 20 minutes, at a
distance of 20 feet, for at least 20 seconds.
·Adjust your computer settings for brightness,
contrast and glare.
Here's to clear vision and rested eyes for busy writers
Dora Machado is
the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest
novel, The Curse Giver, available
from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy
in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she
developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime
of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to
her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes
features for the award-winning blogs Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where
writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two
very opinionated cats.
In my best Jennifer Coolidge voice, HEY EVERYBODY! I just love Two Broke Girls and her character of Sophie. And believe me, these days I need a few laughs. I said over on my blog that one day soon, when I have the energy, I will fill everyone in on what's going on. And I will do so on Mb4 too. Until then, just know that I am staying busy. *enter mysterious music here*
It is becoming apparent that this opportunity is growing in popularity and at a fast pitch since self publishing has now become more of a norm rather than an exception.
I think I could do content editing, or keeping continuity, or advising an author on how NOT to get screwed (let's face it, this industry has a LOT of crooks).
At any rate, it is going to be the wave of the future in my opinion. Either you write, or you work for a writer, because NY publishing is hurting again, or still. According to the May 2015 Author Earnings report, "In the last three months, the Big 5 publishers have seen a 26% reduction in the number of titles on Amazon’s Best Seller lists. This means fewer titles are selling well enough to make these lists, and it also means fewer titles are receiving that added visibility." The article goes on to say that the reason could be that they pricing structure used by NY publishers is way too high and few people are buying at those price points. Good article read it here : Author Earnings Report
am proud to announce that our collective writing and book lovers'
blog, Murderby4, has won the 2015 Best 101 Writing Websites award. This is the
SEVENTH year in a row that we've been honored. Congrats to all who have
contributed, especially Kim Smith, Dora Machado, Marta Stephens, and S.w. Vaughn.
Murderby4 has opened up our content to include writing articles about any genre now, and we welcome guest blogs
about industry trends, reviews, writing tips, how-to articles, writer's
journeys, and more. The bottom line is, if you love to write or just
plain love books, you are welcome to join us and you'll enjoy the
variety of articles we feature.
Here you'll find interesting
articles, author interviews, essays by guest bloggers, reviews, free
excerpts, and an insider's look at the publishing world. So pull up a
chair, grab a cup of coffee, and dive in!
Writer extraordinaire, Polly Iyer, tagged me to list 7 things about my writing people might not know. So, here I go, revealing my deepest secrets!
1) In Double Forté,
my first book, I didn't have a love interest for poor Gus LeGarde, who
has been mourning the loss of his soul mate for four long years. My wife
convinced me that he NEEDED someone, so I came up with Camille, Gus's
secretary's daughter who splits her time between counseling teens and
coaching the drama club.
2) I rewrote Upstageda few years ago, and changed the name
of the darling Down Syndrome character, Ethel, to Cindi. I also changed
the plot and let her live. In the end, I couldn't bear to have her fall
victim to that horror show of a psycho. 3)Mazurka was written
based on my experiences when I lived in Germany. It features all my
sensory memories from Paris, Germany, and Austria. 4) Tremolo
features a script that my maternal grandfather used when showing his
slides of the life of his Magnolia tree. He chronicled all of the stages
of his beloved tree, and had lovely words to go with the photos. I
still haven't found the slides, but I have his notes. Oscar Stone is the
reincarnation of my grandfather in all LeGarde Mysteries, and he's the
one who delivers this slide show to the guests at Loon Harbor. 5)
For the Birdswas my first book written from a woman’s POV. Most of my
fans say I did a pretty good job getting into a woman’s head – LOL. But I
had lots of experience because I lived with my wife, mother in law, and
three daughters! I wrote this book because I had a vivid dream about
Ruby (a ring necked parrot) where I was taking her to a bird show in the
Adirondacks. I couldn't get it out of my head! 6) I found a real
green marble in my garden one day which prompted me to imagine Healey’s Cave, the first of the “green marble” mysteries. My wife urged me to
write segments from “the killer’s POV” and thus I had to get into the
head of a very nasty villain. ;o) 7) I fell in love with Young
Living Essential Oils when I was writing the sequel to For the Birds,
Essentially Yours. It was just natural that my characters also
discovered and learned about the oils and their amazing properties!