Why are my eyes tired at the end of the night?
July 11, 2004 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Fix my eyes (I think). My eyes seem tired at the end of the night. I'm 36 (soon 37) and without glasses. Options? (more inside of course)

I want to live without glasses as long as possible. I'm a good ten years beyond the age where everyone else in my family has needed glasses. I do everything wrong. I read in low light. I use small fonts on my screen.

Tonight, I find my eyes tired. It seems to give my problems at close ranges rather than far. I fear that glasses will make my eyes lazier.

I'm looking for solutions that worked for you or close friends.

Stuff like this or
this or
posted by filmgeek to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
For crying out loud, go see an eye doctor. Sheesh!
posted by mischief at 9:33 PM on July 11, 2004

Please, please get those pinhole glasses thingies, and then post pictures. (OK, that was mean.)

More seriously, though, while I'm a serious skeptic, I do have a (very intelligent and cynical) friend who swears that he followed the "Bates" regimen that Aldous Huxley famously advocated, and that it improved his vision. That approach, though, has been widely discredited at this point, so take that for what it's worth.

Basically, there are really probably two main reasons that eyes go bad as you get older--they fall "out of shape" (like the rest of one's body may do) as they're abused and treated poorly, which means that your ability to find and maintain focus is probably compromised, and then they also age structurally, which means that their shape and refractive indices literally change, and mess up your ability to focus no matter what.

The first set of issues, like a flabby waist or weaker legs, probably can be dealt with by a more rigorous regimen that exercises your eyes regularly, and tries to get the muscles around your lens back into shape so that they can focus crisply and consistently.

The second set of issues, though, isn't really going to respond to simple exercises, I don't think. If you, like many other people, are finding that your eyesight has changed because of age, and they're still basically in good shape, then you're pretty much going to have to accept some kind of medical intervention like glasses, contacts, etc. (As someone your age who's worn glasses or contacts since first grade, you really don't get much sympathy from me.)

If you're dead set against glasses or contacts, you might look into (the considerable expense of) something like Lasix. I have another friend who had that done a while ago, and swears by it, although you do hear horror stories, and it's almost certainly not covered by insurance. Also, a lot of doctors will tell you that late 30s is actually kind of early to get surgical correction, since your eyes are likely to continue changing till your mid-40s, and then you'd still need some kind of glasses. Every opthalmologist that I've discussed it with has recommended waiting till later, so the "fix" is likely to be permanent. (More than one has actually recommended that if I do have it, that one eye actually be slightly under-corrected, and the other slightly over-corrected--that would supposedly eliminate the need for bifocals by letting either eye dominate when I'm looking very close or very far away. Sounds kind of weird, but I guess I understand how it's suppposed to work.)
posted by LairBob at 9:49 PM on July 11, 2004

You could try those drugstore "reading glasses" and see if they help, but i think eye doctor is definitely the way to go.

(and since 2nd grade for me, LairBob)
posted by amberglow at 9:59 PM on July 11, 2004

I'm going to sound like an asshole here, but you're arguing against your own health and trying to apply the vision equivalent of a bad comb-over. So...

I want to live without glasses as long as possible. I'm a good ten years beyond the age where everyone else in my family has needed glasses.

I assure you that doesn't make you more macho or worthy or anything like that. What you want is, to be blunt, a silly thing; a trifle of vanity.

I put it to you that what you really want is to see clearly and without strain. Exercises can't hurt and might help, so give them a shot but expect them to fail.

If seeing clearly and without strain means glasses, it means glasses, and there ain't jack shit you can do about it except let a surgeon slice open your eyes. Glasses will not make your eyes lazier, or otherwise sap your precious bodily fluids. They will not make women or men run away screaming. They won't make you bald or shrivel your penis or give you halitosis. All they will do is help you to see, and make little marks on your nose.

Go see an optometrist (or ophthamologist if you'd rather). It's the most face-time you'll ever get with a doc for your money, and there are cool toys. The worst that can happen is that you'll be told the truth, whatever that might be, about your vision.

And those pinhole glasses would make Cooly McCool, the coolest person who ever cooled coolishly, the only person to out-cool Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Pan-Galactic Tournament of Cool, look like a complete tool.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:18 PM on July 11, 2004

Age and vision is a problem I've questioned the eye doc about. What happens is the lens in your eye looses its ability to change shape (ie, focus). Its not an issue of muscles. It's age. You are only a mortal. You are doomed like the rest of us. You must get glasses and save for your old age.
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on July 11, 2004

I had excellent visions for years - both my brothers got stuck with glasses at age 6. About a year ago (at 33) I decided I should get a checkup - I felt my crisp vision had gotten a bit fuzzy. When I got my eye exam I was shocked at how bad my left eye was - I could barely read the chart. Turns out I had astigmatism on that side, and a bit of farsightedness on both eyes.

I definitely had eyestrain without even realizing it.

Would I rather not wear glasses? Yes, of course. But even with my relatively mild prescription, I still choose to keep them on.

My recommendation is that you drop the pride/paranoia routine and get glasses. You probably need them.
posted by O9scar at 11:46 PM on July 11, 2004

Speaking as someone who finally admitted that that little bit of eyestrain was a sign that glasses might be in order and went in five days ago to get checked ... get the glasses if you need them. I cried when I put them on. No joke. What my mind had adapted to and what I had considered reasonably good vision was a pale comparison to the excellent vision I had as a kid and now have with my glasses. It had snuck up on me slowly, and my mind had adapted to seeing things unclearly or straining to make them clear. I just hadn't noticed that it was much worse than I would have guessed it to be. My prescription still isn't very strong, but it's just enough that everything looks so fantastic that I find myself just looking at things and marveling at how much I had really been missing but not noticing. Go get checked. Glasses won't make your eyes lazier or weaker. It will keep them from working twice as hard as they should.

I love my glasses. My eyes feel better, and in general that makes me feel better ... and I can see clearly anything I want to see. I'm wishing I had gone in much sooner, like a few years ago sooner. Your eyes/brain can adapt to seeing things incorrectly, and sometimes if this goes on too long, you can't correct your vision to 20/20 even with glasses. It's best just to suck up and go in before things get worse.
posted by Orb at 12:36 AM on July 12, 2004

The debate here seems to be between going to a doctor and going without glasses. Why not do both?

Look for an eye doctor (someone like this guy) who takes a holistic approach to treatment. That way you can get a numeric diagnosis of exactly where your eye strength is now, and would also be open to trying alternative methods before relying on a prescription. See? Best of both worlds!

Side note: I wouldn't try any kind of self-guided eyesight manipulation; I don't know much about the practice, but common sense dictates that it has the potential to mess your eyes up even worse. If you're going to try such methods, at least do them under the guidance of a practitioner.
posted by boomchicka at 4:28 AM on July 12, 2004

..and such a doctor would also be open to trying alternative methods...

Sheesh, I was sure that read properly before I posted. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked.
posted by boomchicka at 4:30 AM on July 12, 2004

Response by poster: As always thanks everyone.

I'll mention three things:
1) I'm not shy about going to the doctor. I just believe we live on crutches too often.

2) I'm scared if my vision (overall) can be clearer. I still make out most pieces of dust, for example on my laptop screen. I keep type at 10 or 12 point (and when I get tired, I make it smaller. Damn my eyes!....................No, I don't really. But I do joke about it.)

3) I'm looking for personal or near personal experience in alternative medicine and methods

And yes, I'm completely realistic about my mere mortality.

This is about my question, not about my age. By the age of 25 both parents and brother needed glasses. I see, as best as I can relatively tell, far better than any of them, even after they've just gotten their newest prescription (all of them have very mild ocular deficiencies.)

And Lairbob, if I do decided to get the pinhole glasses, do you think that I could make money on a hot girls site all wearing them? Seriously thanks for the suggestions.
posted by filmgeek at 5:54 AM on July 12, 2004

1) I'm not shy about going to the doctor. I just believe we live on crutches too often.

That's why people (well, me) are looking at you like you have nine heads.

Corrective lenses are not a "crutch" in the sense I think you mean -- a mere convenience or accommodation. There aren't readily accessible nonsurgical cures available for refractive problems like hyperopia and presbyopia.

2) I'm scared if my vision (overall) can be clearer. I still make out most pieces of dust, for example on my laptop screen.

That sounds like normal vision, more or less. You should be able to see the dust on the screen. Especially on a laptop, where it seems to stand out more clearly.

3) I'm looking for personal or near personal experience in alternative medicine and methods

I tried different exercises when I was a myopic kid and had delusions of fixing my vision and climbing into a cockpit. Nothing worked, at all. I have known a few people who tried exercise programs; they all use corrective lenses now.

I run an eternal course of informal research on things like LASIK -- when the risks of LASIK and its successors are lower than the long-term infective and other risks of wearing contacts, I'll probably go in. Anyway, I end up reading lots about eyes. The various exercise programs for refractive problems are, bluntly, quackery. Mostly harmless quackery -- you're not going to ruin your vision by doing exercises or taking nutritional supplements, you just won't improve it -- but still quackery.

It seems at first glance that if you're presbyopic, you could conceivably benefit from exercises -- but if you're presbyopic, you're already exercising the holy bejeezus out of your focusing muscles every day. Lack of exercise is hardly the problem. The problem is usually regarded as increasing stiffness of the lens and scleral walls.

It's possible that you're not presbyopic but have some problems with coordination between your eyes; here exercises are known to help. It's also possible that your problems aren't anything more than the muscles in your eyes getting fatigued through constant contraction. In that case, you might try relaxation programs, where you force yourself to only look at the screen, or anything close, for foo minutes at a time and then force your eyes to relax by looking at distant objects.

If I were in your boat with your preferences, I'd visit my optometrist / ophthamologist and, if it were needed, get whatever prescription was needed. Talk to the doc about exercises and nutrition, from the "I know this probably won't help, but can it hurt?" perspective. Then start some exercise (or relaxation) plan or nutrition plan and see if you stop benefiting from your specs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:25 AM on July 12, 2004

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