Convergence Insufficiency

Self portrait of Kristen squinting in the sun

After several months of unexplained eye pain and a gazillion eye exams, I finally got a diagnosis: Convergence Insufficiency. My eyes diverge a little and I get pain and headaches when I try to focus on a computer or anything close up. I must have looked up a million articles about “pain on reading” or “it hurts to read”. I’m pretty confident all those people are having binocular vision problems just like me.

I went to another optometrist to sign up for “vision therapy” to train my eyes to focus up close, and he prescribed me prism glasses. The prism glasses shift the images I see so that they line up correctly without forcing my eyes to do so much work. The pain I was experiencing was muscle pain from eyes trying really hard to line themselves up.

The glasses do the trick! It’s magical!

This is all really good news. I’m incredibly glad to have a diagnosis and solution for my problem, because let me tell you, “avoid computers” was bumming me out, big time. I thought my days of computering were over. I had just started writing a novel and it killed me to not be able to work on it.

The lesson I learned is: Doctors grasp at answers and are often ignorant outside of their specialty. A headache specialist will assume you have headaches.

Still, someone should have done a binocular workup. My problem was easily diagnosed with a short, non-invasive, inexpensive test. I had had thousands of dollars worth of tests, including a CT scan and a neuro-opthalmology exam, before anyone thought to do the binocular test. I’m a little peeved at that, but, there’s no point in hanging onto irritation. I’m grateful for good health insurance. Onward and upward, with a life filled with reading.

In conclusion: Get your eyes examined yearly. Get a binocular workup if you have mysterious unexplained eye strain. If you work on a computer, follow the 20–20–20 rule: Look away, every minutes or so, at something in the distance, for about 20 seconds. I am going to get software to remind me to do this. Don’t forget to blink!

On reading

I’ve read that to be a good writer you should read, read, read. I have lots of books on Kindle and in paper format but I have a habit of starting them and not finishing them. I’m the queen of half-finished books.

Some of the half-finished books on my Kindle or nightstand:

  • The Scarpetta Factor by Patrica Kornwell
  • Geek Love By Katherine Dunn (I read it so long ago that I consider this a fresh read)
  • Until I find You by John Irving
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by Nick Flynn
  • Finding Hanna by John R Kess
  • By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
  • The Judas Goat by Robert Parker
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Maybe I haven’t found the right novels to capture my interest. Many years ago (almost twenty-five years ago!) my favorite novel was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I read it so long ago that it feels as though I’m reading it for the first time. The last book I really loved and read all the way through in recent history was Stiff by Mary Roach, but even that was a few years back. I read a few others by Mary Roach. Packing for Mars was quite good.

Does anyone else have this problem? Do you even consider it a problem? Are you an avid reader? Tell me what books you like best.