Hot and Sandy

Travel writing, pictures and stuff for people I know. Quite a lot of cycling talk, and some semi-controlled ranting. Hiking, outdoor and two-wheeled stuff, perhaps a little computing when it's worth talking about. Meandering thoughts.

Thursday, October 5


So I'm standing in the kitchen, enjoying my morning cuppa when I hear some impossibly chirpy lady on the radio: "well, it's 8 degrees in Bethnal Green this morning, and it looks like a cold and wet day ahead". Assimilating the information through a melange of sleepiness and disbelief, I ambled into my room and opened The Winter Drawer for the first time in a few months. From it I took my Gore Wind-Stopper jersey, an incredible bit of clothing. I left the various tights, 3/4 bibs and 'roubaix' this that and the other behind. Wearing the jersey was a mistake because it's not cold today - they lied. Although the ground was wet I did not get rained on. This meant that my ride was at Gas Mark 9 for 40mins.

Today I used some clear sunglass- lenses that I got in HK for the first time too. The funny thing about them is that they're clear, so strictly speaking they're just, well, glasses. I use Oakleys, and the frame is an odd Tortoise-Shell finish, branded "rootbeer". The net effect of rootbeer frames and clear lenses is that I fear someone will think I am wearing the glasses for style. You know, like vain people would don glasses to appear studious, or serious, or just to "frame the eyes a little more, yah". I can only hope that the other elements of my riding gear - some bright blue metallic-finish shoes, for example - will make people realise that rootbeer-framed glasses ain't going to make me stylish!

So, why would I wear them? They are UV-treated, but that's not the reason. With the clear lenses, they don't cut out glare, and they're not polarised. The short answer is that three times in the last few years I have had metal splinters removed from my corneas. These splinters have been kicked up in the road ahead of me, or have come from truck exhaust. There's nothing you can do to avoid getting them in your eyes, except wear glasses at all times. So that's what I'm trying to do, even though it makes me look like a giant two-wheeled Woody Allen.

Please wear glasses when you cycle - or the following will eventually happen. You go to A&E with a scratchy eye that is bloodshot. They put antiseptic drops in, which stings like hell. Then you have to stare into the brightest light imaginable, with your super-sensitive blood-filled eye.

Next is my personal favourite part. They ask you to rest your chin on a bar. Once you're there and the lights are low, a clamp (yep, a CLAMP) fits onto the back of your head and is screwed tight, so you can't move. They sort of spring the clampy bit on you - I suppose no-one would relax if they said "right, let's get your head clamped nice and tight, shall we?" With one hand the doctor holds your eye open in an iron grip. With the other he/she scrapes a cotton bud with iodine on it over your eye (hurts hurts hurts). If that doesn't work - and it rarely does, 'cos you've already tried that at home before going to hospital, out comes the *needle*.

Theoretically there are no pain-receptors on the cornea, so the Doc says something like - "this shouldn't hurt, but it might be a teeny bit uncomfortable". Hand clamps eyelids even further open. Think Clockwork Orange. Scritch scritch, scrape, prick, prod. There is a doctor prodding your eye (which you can still see out of) with a big needle. So you see the needle coming, at close range. Horrifically traumatic. The needle grips your cornea and pulls your vision, as every nerve in your body tells you to blink and flinch. Eventually a very, very small and shiny bit of steel ends up on a cotton pad, you get a giant eye-dressing and you're told to leave it covered for 48hrs. Once it has happened to you once, your cornea is scarred and it's more likely to recur. Nice, eh?

Just think, the simple precaution of wearing dorky clear sunglasses could stop this. It's even more important if one of your eyes is dominant (as in my case). The clear glasses aren't a style thing, OK? They do make me look kind of studious though, in a Geek Chic sort of way....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am never going out on my bike without glasses ever again!

I've had 'something in my left eye' for nearly a week. Only noticable when I'm trying to get to sleep. I put it down to an errant eyelash but perhaps it isn't?

Thankfully, my order from which I'm anticipating the arrival of this week includes some sexy glasses with 5 interchangable lenses. I may order a spare, just in case.

05 October, 2006 13:06  
Blogger bob mcbobberson said...

Stefan that could equally be something as benign as calcium deposits. Just go to your opticians and let them have a look, dont bother with a GP, as they end up just referring you onwards.

I've had Corneal Ulsers 4 times now in the past, pretty much the same treatment without the needle, but with a bloody bright light which they force you to stare into with the aid of the clamp, and a wire framey thing that clips onto your eyelids.

I almost ripped the machine from its mounting as I couldnt even close my eye and the doctor had a male nurse come and hold my shoulders firmly to stop me shaking the entire thing to bits, I couldnt even scream as the clamp held my head so tight against the chinstrap I just came out with grunts and was sending jets of snot flying out of my nose everywhere.

05 October, 2006 19:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may pop in to an opticians at the weekend then. I've never suffered with ill health, in any shape or form (all my own teeth, no fillings, no aches and pains, regular digestion!) so I'm dubious that I've got calcium deposits.

I had a fair few 'grit in eye' moments on my last ride. I just never put two and two together when I realised on Wednesday night that something was irritating my left eye. There's something (it feels like) attached to the inside of my upper eyelid which irritates my cornea when my eyes are closed.

If it doesn't disappear on its own (and eyes do have great resiliency and ability to flush foreign matter out) then I'll definately see an optician. I need an eye test in any case, not having had one since I was a child. I reckon I've still got 20:20 though, as I don't have to squint at things and I can read things from very far away without trouble.

05 October, 2006 20:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i ALWAYS wear glasses too, although did have a scary moment when an angry wasp managed to get behind the lense on my Oakley M-Frames...

19 October, 2006 14:06  

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