Monday, June 15, 2015

30 Day Challenges Day 23 - 10 Reasons Why Your Eyes Might Be Too Blurry to Stitch

I work in the eye field and I thought I'd link eyes and stitching in this post since we do need them to stitch. 

Also, as promised, an update on Box of Delights:

This is on 25 count pewter lugana with DMC 820 for the outlines and border. The first box is with DMC 105, the 2nd with WDW Ivy and Camellia, the third will be DMC 52 and the bottom box is WDW Bethlehem. I'm still loving stitching this one and I'm using up some of my spare threads for the boxes. I have many little bits hanging around and it would be nice to use some of them. I'm not sure yet if I'll repeat colours or do something different in every square. So far no more counting issues. 

And now, 10 reasons your eyes might be blurry:

1. Presbyopia/short-sightedness

This will happen around 40 years of age for many of us. We'll notice we can't focus well up close any more, and that especially impacts stitching and reading patterns. There are many ways to combat this. Over-the-counter readers/magnifiers, a magnifier that goes around your shoulders, a magnifier on a stand, or a new prescription. 

Some people will get bifocals or progressives (progressive addition lenses) which are also called invisible bifocals/trifocals or multifocals. Bifocals have a distinct difference in the top distance lens and the bottom reading lens. Progressives have a gradual change from distance to reading without any lines. 

Progressives are great, but they do limit the field of view more than bifocals. Many people get bifocals or progressives that have intermediate distance in the top (20-24" working distance) and reading (14-18" working distance) in the bottom.  That allows you to see your pattern through the top and use the bottom portion for the actual stitching. This does mean you can't see the TV while you stitch though. 

2. Prescription is too weak/eyes weaker

One symptom of weaker eyes is holding your stitching out farther. This can happen at any age, and it especially seems to happen more often now that we're in a more digital world. People that never needed glasses until they started using computers or smartphones for hours at a time now find their eyes are more blurred. 

Get your eyes checked at your local doctor and find out how best to meet your needs. They want you to see better, so tell them exactly what you need to see, and sometimes it helps if you bring in your stitching or work so they'll know what distance you want to use your glasses. 

3. Prescription is too strong

If you find yourself holding things closer to your face than feels comfortable, or closer than you used to, your eyes may have improved and now your glasses might be too strong. That happens more commonly than you might think, and it still makes your eyes feel blurred. Make an appointment with your eye doctor to check if this is happening to you. 

4. Cataracts

This is often a slow, age-related process, but it can happen sooner to people in their 50s and even 40s. If you notice any vision change, especially if it seems to happen suddenly, make sure you get your eyes checked as soon as you can. You'll see better and feel better that you know what's going on. 

Generally with cataracts you'll notice needing more light to see your stitching, you may find that colours seem a little "off" and you may have some mild shadows or double vision occasionally. 

5. "Dry Eyes"/ Ocular Surface Disease

Many people experience watering or tearing with "dry eyes" so it's not a great name. Ocular surface disease covers the wide variety of symptoms and signs much better. The symptoms can be quite varied, so let me list a few:
- fluctuating/cloudy/filmy vision
- gritty, sandy feeling in your eyes
- itchy eyes
- watery eyes
- bloodshot eyes

More and more people experience ocular surface disease and often our electronic devices make symptoms worse. Age and diet are other factors as well as other diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, and many others. Your eye doctor is best qualified to diagnose ocular surface disease, and there are many different treatments. However, most people benefit from using a good artificial tear, in other words not Visine or Clear Eyes or anything with "redness relief". 

You can use artificial tears up to 4 times a day and more often if they are preservative free. There are different types of artificial tears because there are different types of ocular surface disease. Definitely check with your doctor what might work best for your eyes. I use Refresh Optive Advanced because I'm allergic to Systane Balance, but that is a good drop as well. Soothe XP works well if you have significant symptoms. It's important to be compliant with using the drops every day to help your eyes improve and that's advice I need to take more often myself. 

6. Corneal Dystrophy

Dystrophies are much less common than ocular surface disease, but they can cause blurred vision, especially as we get older. There are different types, but some of the common types are fairly treatable with hypertonic drops. If you're consistent with using the drops, then your symptoms will improve. You will need to have a doctor check you for corneal dystrophy and sometimes surgery is of benefit in some cases. 

Symptoms of dystrophy can be eye pain on waking, blurred vision on waking that goes away after an hour or so, and starbursts around lights. 

7. Macular Degeneration

The macula is basically our central vision. You have one in each eye and they work together to help us see. Macular degeneration tends to be something that happens as you get older, and the full name is age-related macular degeneration, but it is something to be aware of at any age. It tends to have a gradual effect more than a sudden effect on your vision, but it is something to be aware of and definitely not to ignore. 

If you notice that your chart seems to start having pieces missing or the frog is visiting a lot more than usual because you're having trouble reading your pattern, that can indicate macular problems. If areas of the chart seem smaller or larger than others or there are pieces missing when you look with one eye and not the other, that could be metamorphopsia, which often means there's some macular issues. 

If you suspect anything, see your doctor ASAP. They're best qualified to check you and give you advice if you have any macular issues. With most macular changes, the sooner you see someone, the more likely you are to keep your vision. 

8. Diabetes

If you have sudden vision changes, say over a few days or even a few hours then diabetes is a concern. Generally if diabetes is affecting your eyes you become near-sighted and have trouble seeing far away. So you might feel like you see your chart and stitching better, but the TV is blurrier than it used to be. If this seems to happen all of a sudden, check with your regular doctor and your eye doctor. Sometimes you need to wait for your sugar to get under control and then your vision will go back to normal. 

9. Focusing Problems

A lot more people have focusing problems now than there used to be. Computers and smart phones seem to be the culprits again. If you're in your 20s or early 30s then you likely have focusing problems instead of presbyopia/shortsightedness. A lot of people notice that they can see up close well, but after they're reading or stitching for 15 minutes or so, then everything far away gets blurry. After 10 minutes or so the far away things will get clearer again. 

Reading glasses usually help focusing problems, so see your doctor if you notice your vision changing as you focus from up close to far away and back again. 

10. Contact Lens Problems

There are a lot of different types of contact lens problems, from poor fits to allergies to contacts. If you have trouble with your vision in your contact lenses, definitely contact your eye doctor. Some issues I've had personally include allergies to contact lens solution, even though I've used the same solution for years. The symptoms for that are pain when you put in your contacts. 

I've also become allergic to my contacts. That usually doesn't have pain when you put them in, but after you've been wearing the contacts for a few hours they feel uncomfortable and you get red, bloodshot eyes. 

With any contact lens problem, contact your doctor. They'll be happy to help you see better and make sure your eyes stay healthy. 


I hope that gave everyone some good info. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me and I can try and help as best I can. 

Happy Stitching!


p.s. also there's a great giveaway for fabric at the Victorian Sampler Shoppe, so check it out!


  1. Excellent info. I've been wearing glasses since I was 7 and don't even want to think about all the changes there have been.

  2. I can add one to the list...keratoconus. It's a degenerative eye disease that is basically astigmatism on crack because the corneas cone out until they eventually stretch so far that they tear, which, of course, I am lucky enough to have. I can literally wake up one morning and my contacts are no longer strong enough because of progression or they might be good for up to three years, it just depends. I've been known to switch several times a year and the longest I've ever gone has been three years. Eventually, I will have to have a corneal transplant (but I'm hoping it's when they approve synthetics in this country because the thought of donor corneas freaks me out...too many horror movies!). They can't get me up to strength enough with glasses (because the correction has to work directly on my eyes), so glasses basically only serve to get me from the bath to the bed (I surely can't stitch or drive in them). I have to have special contacts that are semi-hard and outrageously expensive (called gas-perms) and they are so thick, they have a blue tint to them. As a matter of fact, the guy at the lab that makes them says that he loves to make mine because they are very difficult and he says it's a nice change from the mundane standards. If the measurement is off by a micro, they lens won't work and they have to be redone. Even with correction, at best I can only get 20/40 in one eye and 20/80 in the other.

    Considering I stitch on 28ct most times, a magnifying light or reading glasses are still a must. And if they are dry or dirty, I also can not see (but they can be easily washed with water, which is not something you can do with other contacts). But hey, if there is a good side, because of it's classification, my regular health insurance covers my eye doctor visits and glasses (but ironically not the contacts I have to have) and, once I have a corneal transplant, I could have 20/20 vision if the donor had it (or definitely if it's synthetic).

    Good times! But I rarely get diseases or illnesses that are easy and definitely never cheap, so I'm not surprised.

  3. Lovely progress :-) And great eye info. I've worn glasses or contacts (I change every few years on a whim) and always know when I'm due to get stronger lenses. That's why I usually steer clear of linen or anything smaller than 16 count. Occasional stitching on that doesn't bother me if I do it in little spurts, but I can't do it continually.

  4. What a great and informative post! Also, I am loving the different colours in the Box of Delights :)

  5. Beautiful progress. Love the different colors.


Thanks for any comments!

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