The most precious "piece of gear" - Dreamstime

We usually have a spare battery, spare memory card, spare camera body, spare flash on hand - just in case something fails... But what if the failure hits our eyes? Unfortunately there is nothing like spare set of eyeballs... Hope this little experience of mine will help you avoid stupid mistakes...

Last 10 years I was feeling, that my eyes don't see so sharp as before, so years ago I visited ophthalmologist to get glasses... but the strange thing - non of the correction lenses we tried that day was correcting my unsharp vision, in fact it made it even worse. So I left with advice to get my eyes measured on some sophisticated device to diagnose it... but as I was able to see sharp enough to live and work I postponed, postponed and forgot... and left it undiagnosed... Until recent days, when thanks to set of coincidences I got in hands of old lady ophthalmologist, who looked me into eye with magnifier glass and said: "You have thinner cornea... - keratoconus, I suspect." - And what is that? was my immediate question...

Well, keratoconus is an eye disease - basically a degradation and weakening of cornea (the transparent "skin" of eye, through which the light enters the eye), as cornea gets weaker the pressure inside eyeball deforms it in way, that is uncorrectable with contact lenses or glasses... The disease progresses slowly but in the last stage the ability to see is very very poor. (definitely an end of career of photographer...) The result is irreversible and there is no cure for this - the only solution is stopping the progress of disease, or cornea transplant... So sooner you treat it the better sight you keep... I keep asking my self: "Why didn't I let the thing be diagnosed years ago...?"

Luckily, someone up there cares for me and my vision is still sharp enough to work and live a normal way and thanx to operation I should maintain this sight for years to come...

Here is a little test you can perform to check your eyes (one eye at the time): Look at the dot of light in the dark (- for example look on "standBy LED" of your TV in dark living-room) and see what patterns do you see:

- If you see only a dot of light you should be fine, but do not skip regular visits at your doctor's because of this.

- If you see round bokeh instead of dot - you probably need glasses,

- If you see a dot and the "weaker duplicates of the dot" close by, unsymmetrical shapes and eliptical rays spreading from dot mostly below (- basically anything that is not a single dot or circular bokeh) you should visit ophthalmologist ASAP, cause time might be ticking...

So don't do the same mistake - do not underestimate health of your eyes - they are the most precious piece of equipment you have, and you don't have a spare set of eyeballs in your bag...

I hope this article will help someone - if yes, than let me know. It would be nice knowing it was worth writing...

Take care, Jan

For more information on keratoconus feel free to check wikipedia

Photo credits: Photowitch.

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October 09, 2014


Thank you Debratos for your example - I just realized that situation can be much worse, but the most important thing - and you are one bright example - is to not give up!
Wish you all the best and steep learning curve with photography.

October 08, 2014


I wish you the best. Five years ago I was properly diagnosed with a rare eye disease called macular telangiectasia which supposedly steals your central vision but will always leave you with peripheral vision. I am in a study at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute where I have received the first CTNF implant for my eye disease which is supposed to help regenerate my macula. Just a word of encouragement for anyone in a similar situation...never give up, never give in. My husband bought me my first Canon digital camera about a year and a half ago, and it has been serving as my "bionic eye" ever since. I love photography, because I can see again, (through the lens). After teaching myself everything about photography and editing I started selling my photos on Dreamstime and I started my own ecard website as well. I donate some of my proceeds to eye disease research, so I'm in your corner! : )

August 13, 2012


many thanks i must go.....

July 02, 2012


@ Janceluch, there is nothing that you can tell yourself in the early stages until the optic nerve starts to be damaged from the constant high pressure in the eye. The result is that you start to lose your peripheral vision first until if untreated you eventually go blind. There is a very simple test that can be done by your eye doctor that measures the pressure in your eyes and if it comes back high, you will be directed to an eye specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. There are also tests your eye doctor can do to check your peripheral vision that involve you looking into a piece of equipment that you stare straight ahead and then click a button when when you see pinpoint flashes of light all around your field of vision. In short, be sure to get regular eye check ups and be safe.

July 02, 2012


@ Iwhitwo, thanks for adding your comment - good that the things are under control with your eyes. Maybe you should add how to "diagnose" it - was there something that felt different than usual, something that can tell person, that this glaucoma might be his problem?

@ Alvera :) - were you looking with one, two or three eyes? - oh, wait a minute...

July 01, 2012


Excellent advice and as you said, I feel your sight is one of the most important things in life, especially for a photographer. I was diagnosed with glaucoma a couple of years ago and luckily it was in its very early stages and I am able to maintain my eye pressure with drops to reduce the potential for damage to the optic nerve. Please take this advice.

June 30, 2012


Nice write up...thanks.

June 29, 2012


Thank you for sharing this

June 29, 2012


Nothing is more important for our bodies but usually we forget. Thanks for sharing

June 29, 2012


I look right now to TV LED and I see 3 dots after 3 beers, it's ok?

June 29, 2012


I just found information that this disease affects around one person in a thousand. Statistically that translates to 137 photographers in DT community...

June 29, 2012


Thanks a lot for the info.

June 29, 2012


just do not postpone it like I did years ago :) Choosing a date and picking up a phone is really easy thing to do and should take no longer than 5-10 minutes - and you can do it right now :)

@ Bradcalkins: when I saw the image I was like "No way - somebody has a spare eye!"... so I had to use it :)

June 28, 2012


Thanks very much, I am overdue for an eye check

June 28, 2012


Thanks for sharing this...

June 28, 2012


Thanks for the story and warning. That contact lens photo kind of creeps me out, though :)

June 28, 2012


Thank you Monysasi. I like the "bra for cornea" - clearly describes the purpose :) (by the way, that would by interesting name for the product ;) )

June 28, 2012


My husband has the same problem like you. And he wears hard contact lenses that act like a bra for the cornea. in that way he can see better.
I have to visit the ophthalmologist too because I see worse.
I like very much your photos

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