I was on Facebook the other day and I came across a post from the BPES group. A woman was inquiring if anyone else’s children had trouble with their eyes when swimming. Her daughter didn’t like putting her eyes underwater, and would use goggles, but the woman had trouble finding goggles that would fit. Other members assured her that their kids had similar issues, and gave her some recommendations for brands of goggles to try.
After reading this I was like woah! I have always hated opening my eyes underwater, because it stings, but for some reason, I never connected that to my BPES until now.
Part of the reason is that I have only known for about 5 years that I have BPES. But even when I thought I just had small eyes, for some reason, it never occurred to me that this could affect how my eyes react underwater.
I have always enjoyed swimming and dunking under the water to stay cool, but to this day, it is still uncomfortable trying to open my eyes underwater. I am glad that I read that Facebook post and I now know this is “normal” for people with BPES.
It’s starting to get colder, which means I’ve begun to wear my winter coats, scarves, and gloves. Along with this comes my yearly reminder that I don’t like how I look in hats. Since I have BPES, my ears stick out slightly, and one ear sits up just a bit higher than the other. I have spoken before about my struggle with baseball caps, but at least those are optional. When it gets cold, if I don’t put something on my head, my ears will freeze.
I usually keep a knit ear warmer in my bag in case I need it. I also have one of those hats that has fur and flaps over the ears, and I don’t hate how I look in it.
But when it comes to just a knit cap to put on my head, it is hard for me to find something that is flattering. Usually I just go with the ear warmer or put up the hoods on my jackets. If it is really cold, I put on the hat with the flaps.
I do have 2 knit hats that I like, but I don’t love how they look on me. I know I shouldn’t care, and this winter I am going to make myself use them more. I try to tell myself not to be self-conscious, because other people probably don’t even notice.
The other day I watched a YouTube video from a makeup artist who has BPES! It was great. She demonstrated some eye makeup techniques that I found really helpful. It was just so refreshing to see someone with eyes like mine talking about makeup.
She recommended some eye shadow and brush products. I actually have one of the brands of eye shadow she recommended already. But I do not have any decent brushes, so I decided to see what I could find.
The woman in the video recommended getting the smallest brushes available. This makes sense, since our eyes are so small, it can be hard to apply the shadow. With a bigger brush, it is easy to put too much on, and then it starts to look ridiculous.
Coincidentally, a new Sephora just opened in my neighborhood, so I decided to check it out. I found a small “precision” eye shadow brush, and I bought it. I don’t wear makeup every day, but the next time I do, I will try out the brush and provide an update. Stay tuned!
I have been a Rihanna fan for a long time. I follow her on Instagram, and I love when she posts her outfits and snapshots from events that she attends. Over the past year, she launched a makeup brand called Fenty Beauty. I love that her brand is very inclusive and offers a wide variety of different shades for every skin tone.
Recently Rihanna posted about a new eye palette that is coming out called Moroccan Spice:
These colors look so fun, but it makes me sad because I just can’t get bold colors to look right on my eyes. The only one I could maybe pull off is “Mo’rockin Ice.”
Normally I forget that I have BPES, but every once in a while, something like this pops up in front of me and reminds me that I do have some limitations. As I have posted about before, I find that pretty much only white eye shadow seems to work on my face, because my eyes and eyelids are so small. Anything darker than white overtakes my eyes and seems to make them look even smaller.
Obviously this limitation is superficial, and I am grateful to be healthy. And I can still enjoy her other products, like foundation and lip gloss. But I can’t help wistfully staring at these great colors.
Recently l went through the “saga” of having to get a new passport, for reasons that are a story for another day. This process included having to get new passport photos taken. In theory getting passport photos taken is something you should only have to do every ten years or so. I travel abroad fairly often and in the last few years, I’ve had to get identification photos taken several times for various visas and IDs, each with different specifications for photo dimensions. US passport photo requirements have changed and now you can’t wear glasses in your passport photo. Other countries require that your eyes fit within certain centimeter dimensions for an official photo ID. While simply taking off your glasses sounds like no big deal, for someone with BPES, these specifications can be a nightmare. Getting passport pictures taken is such a mental obstacle to me, that I go through great lengths to avoid having to do it. For example, I still keep a huge stash of passport sized photos that I printed and trimmed myself years ago on a photo printer at home based on a photo I had taken that met passport photo specifications. Crazy schemes like this often backfire on me because photos have to be recent and the requirements are often changing.
A colleague ran into a snafu recently with getting his passport replaced. As we were commiserating this week over the bureaucracy of getting a passport, particularly while abroad, I realized that part of my resistance to passport photos stems from my eyes. Oftentimes when getting my picture taken, the photographer will prompt me to open my eyes wider. I used to get so frustrated when someone told me to open my eyes. It drove me crazy because I would always think – if I could open my eyes wider, don’t you think I’d do it?! On one of my latest rounds of passport photos, I sat with the photographer for five minutes where he kept telling me to relax my eyes. With my eyes being so small, the picture wouldn’t meet the ID photo requirements. It was insanely frustrating for both of us and I felt really stupid. He didn’t realize I had small eyes and it seemed he thought I was squinting on purpose. Other people came in and it took less than a minute to snap their photo. In the end I got my photos, but the entire experience made me feel awful. At best it should have just been an annoying quick errand, instead of me feeling incompetent, foolish, stupid, embarrassed, and frustrated. Clearly it made its mark, with damage to my psyche because now I’ve built it up in my mind that getting passport photos is SUCH a hassle.
Just another small annoyance of having BPES.
Recently Bitmoji had a message pop up asking me to update my avatar to the new look. I was like sure, why not and clicked on it. As I was going through, I picked out a new hair style and a new face shape, and then I got to the eye page.
There are 9 options for eye shape and they all look almost the same to me. The shape just changes slightly but they are all the same size:
Since I have BPES and very narrow eyes, I just didn’t see an option that even comes close to what I have. I selected one the best I could and moved on. When I looked at the eye size option, it appears to just be for the pupil:
Now I know Bitmoji are just silly caricatures, but it is interesting to me how there is a lot more variety in some of the other categories, like hair. And I think my new version does look like me, it is just that I am not used to seeing an image of myself with larger eyes. I guess I will just have to wait until future updates to see if they change up the eye options.
Today as I was perusing my Instagram feed, an ad popped up for a local fertility center. The ad had a picture of a woman sitting by herself, smiling, holding what looks to be an alcoholic beverage, enjoying her life. The caption promises “Egg freezing allows women to create options for the future.” I know I was sent this ad because I am a woman in my 30s. But since I have Type I BPES, I stopped getting my period years ago and don’t have any eggs left to freeze.
As I have discussed before, I am okay with this. An ad like this does not upset me, but it does remind me that I am not “normal.” I usually forget that I have BPES, until something like this comes up, and it forces me to think, “oh yeah, for most women my age, it would be no big deal to see this ad.” But I can’t help thinking, “well this doesn’t apply to me.”
I usually just don’t think about the fact that it is a societal norm that woman are assumed to want children and to be capable of having them. I have encountered this at work. When coworkers say, “when you have kids someday” I kind of freeze and it can be awkward. I usually just try to smile and nod, because that is a lot easier and less personal than having to explain my situation. I am really torn about whether I should open up and let them know the real me. I do with most other aspects of my life. I see myself as a genuine person.
But I have always been a private person, and don’t think everyone needs to know everything about me. When I hear someone assume that I’m going to have kids, and I don’t say anything, I can’t help but feel torn. On the one hand, I don’t want to get into my private life, but on the other hand, I don’t want to lie and be fake. So far I have only discussed my condition with close friends and family, and I have never told coworkers at any job that I have had.
I find it a lot easier to write about it than to talk about it face to face. But sometimes I wonder if the next time someone assumes, I should just be like, “actually…” and educate them about my condition.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching a few Bravo reality TV shows. And in watching these shows, I see a lot of high maintenance people. And I’m not judging, it is just not me. But it is fascinating to me how much beauty and up-keep are a part of people’s lives. These shows make it seem like Botox is practically a requirement. And false eyelashes seem to now be a part of everyday makeup application.
I am a low maintenance person when it comes to makeup. But sometimes I will try out new techniques to use on special occasions. With BPES, makeup can be tricky, as I discussed in my smoky eye story. But I am curious about false eyelashes. I like my eyelashes, but they are very thin. Looking at my face, I am assuming that if I add bulk to my eyelashes, it will just make my eyes look smaller. It also freaks me out that they stick on. I feel like since my eye shape is unique, they probably would not fit on very well. After watching a how-to video, it does appear that the length can be cut to adjust for size, but I also wonder about getting the proper curvature.
I decided to check on SnapChat to see if they happened to have a filter which would give me a clue as to whether false eyelashes are something I should explore. Here is one filter that enhanced the lashes:
To me, this picture does confirm that the taller thicker lashes make my eyes appear smaller. Obviously this is not the same as the real thing, which I may still try, but this at least gives me an idea.
Since my adult eye surgery (that I go into detail about on our surgery page), I’ve only noticed one negative side effect. I sometimes get something stuck in my eye and it is nearly impossible to blink, cry, or flush it out. Immediately after surgery, I found that blinking to flush something out of my eye was completely ineffective. If I got something in my eye, like fuzz or dirt from the air, I would experience a sharp pain in my eye that was blinding. I wouldn’t be able to keep my eye open and I’d twitch a bit in pain. I couldn’t figure out what was going on exactly. I only know that somehow after my surgery if something gets in my eye, it is really hard to flush it out. Thankfully as time passed after surgery, this didn’t happen very often and I was much more careful about rubbing my eyes to avoid the situation.
I still don’t really understand why this happens. Unfortunately I’ve found the most effective way to deal with it is to lay my head down and close my eyes, basically going back to sleep and letting my body fix itself. I don’t always have the luxury to essentially sleep it off if something gets stuck in my eye. In December, as I was waking up for work, I rubbed my eyes a little more vigorously than I should have. All of a sudden I had sharp waves of pain whenever I tried to blink. Putting my head down didn’t work. Neither did crying, eye drops, or flushing my eye with water. As the minutes ticked by and it was getting to the time that I had to leave for work, I was freaking out. I was uncomfortable, annoyed, and a little scared. What was I supposed to do?
After a ten minute panic and lots of eye drops later, I ended up arranging to take a partial sick day and take some calls from home. I could not get this thing out of my eye and depending on where it floated around on my eye, I would have waves of pain and be unable to open my eye out of discomfort. I normally bike to work and with my eye acting that way, I did not feel comfortable or safe trying to bike without reliable vision. I took work calls from my couch, usually alternating between looking like a pirate with one eye closed in pain as I squinted at my computer screen and with shutting my eyes altogether. In between calls, my nose kept running. Since everything is connected, the irritation in my eye was causing overall congestion in my sinuses. I thought blowing my nose would bring relief, but it did not. I felt so stupid taking a sick day because I had something in my eye.
I feel silly writing this because I can’t even clearly explain what exactly is going on when I get something in my eye. Today it happened again while I was with my client and thankfully it wasn’t as bad as my sick day a month ago. Several times throughout the day, I had waves of sharp pains in my eye from what I can only assume was some environmental irritant. I should ask my eye doctor at my next appointment if they’ve ever heard of anything like this. In the meantime, I am really cautious about rubbing my eyes and how I carefully remove anything from my eye area. Small price to pay for being able to actually SEE, but I wonder if other people who’ve had the same surgery as me experience this. I also wonder why the heck this happens at all. Ugh – I wouldn’t go back to my adult eyes pre-surgery because they were practically closing, but I do miss the ability to be able to effectively blink and naturally flush irritants out of my eyes.
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.