Photophobia and My Mundane Life
By Kristopher Sveska
Yesterday I did something truly amazing. For the first time in several years, I sat through an entire two hour movie. I felt no eye pain or rental burn characteristic of this weird photo oculodynia syndrome, (a.k.a. photophobia). I know watching the latest installment of the X-Men franchise probably sounds mundane to most folks, but until I began wearing Axon Optics FL-41 lenses three months ago, sitting still for two hours bathed in various spectrums of light emitted by a LED television proved impossible. I had not watched television or gone to the movies for three years – not since I made the intuitive, tentative connection between certain types of light and their adverse effects on me, bringing on a state that at onset looked something like ADD, built to nervous agitation, progressed to adrenaline-fueled anxiety, and ended in panic that led to full flight into a darkened room.
So here is what happened. Four years ago, as a consequence of another chronic disease process, I suffered kidney failure. Fortune smiled upon me because after just six months of dialysis, my kidney function returned. Yet while I could once again expel fluids from my body in the manner in which nature intended, I could leave my home for only short periods without becoming agitated. Over time the severity of my symptomology worsened to the point that I saw a psychiatrist, who diagnosed what I was experiencing as agora phobia, literally, fear of the marketplace. The medication he prescribed left me feeling dopey, more isolated and still phobic of pretty much anything other than a darkened room.
Life events and a bad break up led me to relocate out-of-state a few months later, where I saw a number of specialists about my illnesses. Because I’ve worn high index prescription glasses all my life, two of those doctors I sought out were an optometrist and ophthalmologist, the former of which suggested I try rose-tinted lenses. When I put on the commercially available #3 tint lenses while standing under harsh florescent lighting, I experienced, much to my surprise, some relief. That reaction prompted a referral to a neuro ophthalmologist who first offered medication, then a ganglion nerve block and finally handed me the naturopathic solution: a non-prescription pair of Axon Optics Wrap 7C frames with removable interior light-blocking gaskets and FL-41 dark exterior tint lenses. The calming results were instantaneous.
When the prescription goggles arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Even with my strong prescription, the glasses are light and the lenses thin, like a pair of non-prescription sunglasses. For me going to the grocery store no longer is painful experience, nor do I feel as if I have been poleaxed by halogen headlights while riding in a vehicle at night. I can maintain a train of thought long enough to hold a reasonably coherent conversation with my doctors while under harsh florescent lighting.
Of course nothing is perfect. I wore the goggles constantly for three months. Recently I noticed my old friend seasonal affective disorder (depression) paying me a visit, so I’ve been experimenting. On cloudy days when I don’t plan to be outside for long or when at home under dim, soft pink incandescent lighting, I began wearing my old rose-tinted glasses. What I have observed thus far is that after several hours my eyes are fatigued, dry and I feel anxious. It is at that point I return to the FL-41 lenses. I will let you know how my experiment goes.
Kristopher L Sveska