During the holidays I had the opportunity to visit my best friend in Los Angeles. I don’t venture to the West Coast often because it is a really long flight for me and usually there is enough to entertain and tempt me on the East Coast. At any rate, it was wonderful to escape the cold winter and have some sunshine in December. It had been a long time since I’d visited, and I was just amazed how blue the skies are in LA. I couldn’t believe how warm it was in the dead of winter. It was glorious to eat lunch at sidewalk cafes and go hiking in a tank top and shorts. What a thrill to do something like that in December!
One thing I noticed on my first morning there was how sensitive my eyes were to all that sunshine. I felt like a mole! Where I live now, it is often cloudy and rainy. I acted like a vampire upon waking up on my first morning in LA, pulling the covers over my head and howling about all the brilliant light. I was so happy to see the sunshine and the bright blue skies, but they felt like they were killing me. Sunshine and blue skies are a game changer for my mental well being. I am immediately happier and more energetic when I see a blue sky. I of course always wear sunscreen and stay in the shade, but a sunny blue sky lifts my mood ten fold. I was conflicted with how happy I was to see blue skies and with how much my eyes hurt with all that sun. My body was telling me to hide in the darkness and my heart was telling me to get outdoors.
Many years ago as a kid, the eye doctor told my mother that I had very light pigmentation around my eyes and I am hypersensitive to bright light. With blue eyes, fair skin, and lighter hair, I was preconditioned to be sensitive to sunlight. Combine that with my already small eyes, if you put me under the sun my squint goes into overdrive. I have referenced on other pages on our site how I hate when people ask me why I am squinting. My sensitivity to light kind of blurs the lines – am I squinting because I have poor vision, because my eyes are really sensitive to light, or because I have BPES? People always used to assume I was squinting because I have such small eyes. So many eye issues! I believe that I was mostly squinting because my eyes are super sensitive to bright sunlight.
About ten years ago, I finally invested in a quality pair of prescription sunglasses. Thankfully my prescription hasn’t changed too much over the years that I can still use this same pair. I would be dead without them. I cannot function in bright natural outdoor light. It hurts my eyes to the point that I feel blinded and unable to focus my vision. I was reminded in LA that I really have to wear my sunglasses or I will be uncomfortable in all that sunlight. What a problem to have for a woman with BPES who LOVES the sunshine.