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Careers for people with Red Eyes

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  • Careers for people with Red Eyes

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm student teaching at a high school, and I really love the job. The only problem is that my eyes are bloodshot every day. I can only guess what my students and coworkers are thinking about this. Is it possible to be an effective teacher, standing in front of 30 students, with beat red eyes all of the time? I find myself thinking about this a lot, and I'm self-conscious about it.

    I've received excellent reviews from my supervisors, so I don't think it's hurting my career, but I do think it's limiting my effectiveness. Sometimes people will make comments about it.

    I got a lot of comments about it at my previous job as a business analyst, where I mostly worked by myself, as opposed to standing in front of a group.

    I'm 26 years old. How has this affected people's careers? Are there some careers (perhaps teaching) that are more challenging for people with dry eye than others?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback!

  • #2
    Dry eye has also affected my career as an underwriter for State Farm. Before the onset of my dry eye at 25 years of age, I sought out new challenges and looked for ways to develop myself so that I would someday be promoted to the next level. I was pursuing professional certifications as well as a MBA at the local university. I no longer have the energy to make it through a day at work as well as night class. I've chosen to do my best at work because I need my job to support myself.

    My co-workers and superiors were sympathetic for a little while when I was going through the acute phase, but people became less patient when it was clear that my condition was a chronic one. At one point, I became very worried that I was going to lose my job. Thankfully, dry eye treatments have helped me to some extent, and I have learned to cope with the constant pain when I am at work.

    I work in front of a computer (in the dreaded office environment) for about eight hours a day, sometimes more. By the end of the week, I am exhausted from the pain and stress of dealing with dry eye. I no longer consider my position a career but simply a job. I'm trying to develop myself, but I am more concerned about doing what I need to do just to keep my position.

    I don't see myself sticking with this position for the rest of my life but am not exactly sure of what would be better. I'd like to go back to school to do something that I enjoy more and is more conducive to my chronic dry eyes. I've thought about pursuing a counseling degree since my undergraduate degree was in psychology. I've also considered someday being a stay-at-home mom. I know that I cannot do what I am doing now forever.

    I never thought that dry eyes could be a life altering condition. It has literally changed how I live my life, how I feel, and has forced me to redefine my goals and priorities.
    Last edited by Julie1; 13-Apr-2007, 22:34.


    • #3
      Hi NCOS!

      I was looking over your post, and it appears that this is your first post. Welcome to the Dry Eye Zone!

      Do you know what is causing your dry eye? What types of treatments have you tried? This bulletin board has a great deal of information, and you may be able to get your condition under control so that you can focus on your teaching career.

      One advantage that teaching has over your previous job as a business analyst is that you are likely not in front of a computer for full days. I find that my eyes are very red after a day (or long week) at work.

      I think it's great that you have received excellent reviews. I'd say that as long as you communicate why your eyes are red and keep your focus on your job, you'll be a great teacher.



      • #4
        Hi Julie,
        This is is a little off topic, but I wanted to say what a beautifully eloquent job you did describing the impact of dry eye on your life. With the exception of your position at State Farm, you described my life too! So sorry that DES isn't treating you better.
        Best wishes


        • #5
          red eye careers

          Welcome, NCOS!

          I know how you feel. My suggestion is that you work on symptom management and your feelings about your DES and self-consciousness. In some respects teaching seems an ideal career; a shorter day and more vacation times to decrease stress and let your eyes rest. Plus (I hope) not too much computer time needed.

          I am a therapist, but teach one academic course/semester. I was very self-conscious about my constant blinking, and then about my Panoptx goggles. The hot air vents in the ceiling of the college drove me crazy. The goggles are definitely weird, but the pain has improved so I can focus better on the teaching. I wear them all the time in class (when I was more embarassed I used constant eye drops and pain pills during classss) People on this site were very supportive. I have had to come to terms with the looks and comments. I'm not going to hide in my house, and I'm able (usuallly) to put my self-care first despite what I worry others might think. If I had a broken leg, would I hop on one foot so I didn't need to use crutches? I don't always feel as positive as I do today, and I don't know if it would be worse if I was in my 20's.

          Good luck, it is a process coming to terms with this disability.


          • #6
            Originally posted by ncos
            I'm student teaching at a high school, and I really love the job.
            My $0.02: Stick with the job you love! If you have to live with dry eye on the job, it will be much easier to cope with if you truly love your job than if you don't.

            Some key work issues for people with dry eye include these:

            1) An environment that makes dry eye worse (e.g. exposure to very dry air in an office, exposure to wind in an outdoors job, exposure to allergens, or activities that require frequent reading or computer use).

            I don't know anything about your specific work environment but I certainly would have guessed teaching to be on the 'kinder' end of the spectrum in this regard.

            2) Productivity decline, because of the impact of chronic pain on concentration, inability to keep eyes on a computer, etc.

            3) Concerns about appearance, particularly in jobs where you deal with the public (though worrying about co-workers/superiors is of course an issue too).

            I think that with enough confidence and a little creativity this can be dealt with. I'm always reminded of a member here who is a university professor and mother of two young kids. She wears Panoptx 24x7 to keep her eye pain under control. Socially, that's not an easy thing, but somehow she carries it off just fine and it has never stood in her way.

            What I would say is... don't be afraid to talk about the reason your eyes are red. It does the double good of explaining that you're not really stoned and also raising awareness about dry eye, which is badly needed.
            Rebecca Petris
            The Dry Eye Foundation


            • #7
              Thanks for all of your support. This forum is a great resource and has a lot of really good information. Your suggestions make a lot of sense to me.


              • #8
                One possibility is to wear glasses at work -- ones with regular plastic frames. I'm currently not working, but when I was, I wore glasses at work. I didn't need them for vision, but I felt more comfortable at meetings and meeting with the public (at a University Museum). The glasses hid my red eyes and helped with the drafts that occasionally came up.

                I considered getting slightly tinted glasses too, simply to mask my red eyes and dark (and I mean grey, dark) circles under my eyes.

                I wear the glasses when I'm at dinner, at parties, the mall, the grocery store; anywhere in public. At home, I don't need them.

                Dry eyes have also impacted my career. I can't work all day because I have to rest my eyes for one hour in the afternoon. But, worse, it has impacted my family's finances because my husband doesn't get health insurance so we are paying that bill healthcare bill every month. I don't care about a career anymore, just a part-time morning job that pays benefits. That is hard to come by.



                • #9
                  eyes at work

                  Geez, this condition is challenging. I like Rebecca's recommendation to stick with the job you love.

                  For good and for ill in my job I spend a lot of time by myself either in a little office or on the road. This works for the geeky research I do and limits my interaction with others. But the road trips also typically involve long days where I have meeting after meeting, sometimes with colleagues, sometimes with new people.

                  I look for openings and make a point of eventually conveying my basic chronic DES situation to everyone in my department. I try not to beat them over the head with it but want to give them some understanding of why some days my eyes may look pretty bad, or I may need to head back to the hotel to rest my eyes when others are headed out for dinner & drinks. If they want to know more - most don't - I provide more detail. I also have asthma and will ask a group I'm presenting to for permission to do drugs (albuterol) during the session. I'm joking but also creating space for myself to administer meds if I have to.

                  For meeting and working with people I'm just getting to know or maybe meet with once, it feels like an imposition to explain my condition unless they ask. Most don't. My eyes can make these meetings awkward sometimes, but I'm hoping that for 95% of the people in the room our shared focus on the work and having a productive session trumps my little health issue.

                  Teaching, ncos, as you point out is a little different. My previous job was more education (vs. research) centered and I did struggle to deal with multiple humans rubbing their eyes when actually it was about my eyes, etc. But as a teacher you're going to make a difference in the lives of some of those kids, whatever your eye condition. That's huge. And you love your job. Wow!

                  Chris' idea about the glasses makes sense to me. I need them - otherwise the world looks like a Renoir painting. I like a bit of base tinting for indoors that hides my eyes a bit but doesn't intimidate, if you know what I mean. My glasses are also photo-sensitive so when I go out into the bright sunlight they turn opaque. If I was a tour guide or something, this probably wouldn't feel right, but in my job it doesn't matter so much. And my light sensitive eyes appreciate it.



                  • #10
                    Fellow High School Teacher

                    Stick with teaching. I of course do not have another career, but teaching has many advantages with dry eye.

                    1. You are not in front of a computer constantly. The longest I am on the computer for one sitting is while preparing a test maybe, and that cannot last longer that one conference period at a time (1-1.5 hours).

                    2. You get a conference period. Yes it is filled with unending work, but if you have to, you can close your eyes for 5-10 minutes, which i have been known to do.

                    3. You're focus changes as opposed to staring at a computer. For me this helps alot. When I stare at something whether near or far, my dry eye feels worse (probably not blinking enough). With teaching, your on the computer, then on the phone, then teaching, then helping a student, but always looking around the room.

                    4. You could put a humidifier in your room if you want.

                    5. You are not around adult colleagues all that much, mostly teenagers. Although they can be cruel, they don't seem to notice or care that much. They are much more interested in their social lives. I doubt you will ever get too many comments from students. I never do, except maybe asking why I don't wear makeup. Then I usually tell them.

                    6. You get out at 3:30 or somewhere around there. That gives plenty of time for a hot evening shower and rest (unless you have three kids like me).

                    7. You get the summers off. Very good for dry eye. My eyes feel so much better in the summer. I've wanted to teach summer school for the extra money, but I never do because I figure my eyes need the rest.

                    I can imagine constantly working closely with my eyes would be much worse. Teaching I believe is much nicer to the eyes. Plus you love it and its very rewarding, so stick with it.

                    Geometry Teacher


                    • #11

                      A geometry teacher just gave you the "proof". I guess you better keep teaching.
                      Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.


                      • #12
                        Chris' recommendation to wear plano glasses with a tint is an excellent point. I have a few pair of Plano glasses for when I'm wearing my contacts. "Fashion glasses" I believe they are.
                        Don't trust any refractive surgeon with YOUR eyes.

                        The Dry Eye Queen


                        • #13
                          I feel your pain

                          I like yourself, suffer from red, dry eyes. I have been to several doctors and have tried many things (hot compresses, eye lid scrubs, etc), but nothing seems to help. My eyes are red on a regular basis, and I am very self-conscious about it. I hate having to look people in the eye when I talk because I think that they are thinking "geez, why are her eyes so red?" I've tried taking lubricating drops several times a day (every half an hour, etc.), but it doesn't seem to help at all. I've been dealing with this for over 5 years and am willing to try anything at this point. I feel like I have such nice eyes, but not when they are always red. This is something I'm constantly thinking about....any advice? Any suggestions?


                          • #14
                            Hi Janelle and welcome!

                            Dry eye is a very frustrating disease and it often takes a lot of patience and experimentation to get things under control.

                            For some ideas on additional avenues to explore you might want to read this link.

                            Often the devil is in the details. For example, hot compresses: what you use, how frequently you use it and how hot you get it all play a role - and overdoing it can be counterproductive. Same with lid scrubs. Some people scrub too much, some people have their tear film destabilized by baby shampoo solutions. And lubricating drops. As you can see from our poll about tear preferences no one can claim one tear is best and most of us have had to try a great many before finding one or more that works better for US than others.

                            Do you have plugs?
                            Rebecca Petris
                            The Dry Eye Foundation


                            • #15
                              @ Janelle: I feel exactly like you. My eyes are always red and I'm really desperate with that. It seems like nothing helps me and I'm still that young. I study Business Administration and I don't even know whether I will ever be successful in that job because of these horrible red eyes and constant pain.
                              This is all really frustrating...