In the summer of 2015, I was having a tough time. I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome a few years before, but I was dealing with it and the symptoms weren’t crippling yet. That changed that summer, when my eyes were getting so dry that not only was I miserable, but it was affecting my vision. Typically it just got worse as the day went on, although the severity of symptoms varied each day. Some days, I simply couldn’t see well at all by late afternoon (or earlier), to the point I couldn’t really use a computer well. Ever since that summer, my work hours have been very early (typically 6-3), but it all started that summer as I couldn’t work very well after mid-afternoon..
It wasn’t until later that winter that I started investigating scleral contact lenses (more in a bit). But that summer, I was struggling. I soon discovered that if I wore goggles, the dryness was still uncomfortable, but the moisture accumulating in the googles was enough to allow me to maintain my vision. The problem? I HAD TO WEAR GOGGLES!! And my eyeglass prescription is so off-the-charts weird, that nobody would make custom goggles with a prescriptions. That thus meant I wore very big motorcycle goggles over my regular prescription glasses. It’s a WONDERFUL look! But not one I felt like sharing in public.
My days that summer were as follows…go to work, use eyedrops literally every 15 minutes, go home, and as soon as my vision started to leave me, I’d throw on the goggles and stay home the rest of the day. It was…depressing. I wasn’t doing any birding, I wasn’t doing many of the things I loved, because I either felt miserable, or my vision was horrible. But just by chance, earlier that summer, I had bought a very nice macro lens for my Canon DSLR. I hadn’t really played with it much…until my vision started to go and I didn’t want to leave the house much.
I spent quite a bit of time that summer and fall, just walking through the backyard, and learning to appreciate the tiny little world that had been there all along. I knew nothing about insects (ok, I still don’t know a lot), but I did QUICKLY discover the incredible variety, and incredible beauty, of the little critters roaming my backyard. Many nights I’d come home from work, not be feeling well, and I’d go out in the back yard with the camera. It helped me feel normal. It helped me feel connected to my old hobbies. It gave me a bit of much needed joy. As my eyes seemingly got drier and my vision deteriorated, I’d even don the goggles and walk around the yard. If no neighbors were out, that is. Pride and vanity is a tough thing to overcome, even when you’re miserable…
It was later in the winter that the scleral lenses (a lens that gives your eyes a nice day-long bath in saline) literally saved my sanity. Heck, they saved my JOB, as when the scleral lenses are in, my eyes feel almost normal, and my vision is awfully damned sharp. I can still only wear them 12 hours a day at most, so my evenings are still often spent at home, with my lovely fashionable goggles on. However, with the scleral lenses and the return of my vision, I resumed more of a normal life, and resumed my bird photography. I haven’t used the macro lens a lot since that summer, but I will always appreciate the distraction macro photography gave me that summer, a period that helped bridge the period to the salvation of the scleral lenses.
With that…today’s POTD is a macro photo of a meadowhawk (dragonfly) in my yard from that summer. The second photo is simply a crop of the first photo, showing the incredible fine detail the macro lens can resolve.