Blinking in bright sunshine left me BLIND after my ‘strong’ eyelids snapped shut | The Sun
THE morning sunrise really is a sight to behold.
While it's beautiful, the glare can be harsh on our eyes, resulting in sensitivity and pain.
One man however, has now revealed how just blinking in the sunshine caused him to go temporarily blind.
Robert Graham had been taking a journey he made made a thousand times before from his home to the office in Leeds.
The 67-year-old walked out of the station and turned onto the main road where in the distance, he could see the sun coming up.
Father-of-two Robert said everything had been normal on that day in April 2014.
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He explained: "I looked towards the sun, blinked into the light as anyone would and then it just hit me.
“That was it. There was no pre-warning. My eyes just shut down. The eyelids absolutely wouldn’t open.”
After his first 'shut down', Robert who lives in Bingley, North Yorkshire said anything you would need to have your eyes open for he 'just couldn't do'.
"I couldn’t read, watch TV or drive. It was truly debilitating," he said.
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Before the incident, Robert said he had 'perfect vision' and had no way of knowing it was the sudden onset of a condition that still impacts him today.
Called blepharospasm, it is where the muscles that close the eyes contract involuntarily.
There is no known cause and some sufferers have no success with treatment.
After the incident, Robert did his best to see again, pushing his strong eyelids to open manually, so he could see enough to move into the shade.
Initially, he thought the reaction had been down to the brightness.
Within 24 hours of my first treatment, I saw improvement and I haven’t had a complete shutdown since
He made his way to work, mostly squinting and once he got into the office, he said he could semi keep his eyes open.
"But I had to keep closing them as my lids were so heavy, my eyes were watering and it was hard.
“If I got up to walk across the office, even the stimulus of the wind moving across my eyeballs was enough to have another shutdown where I couldn’t open my eyes at all.
“I had to keep forcing my eyes open for a very short space of time, seeing what was around me, then closing them again as I walked.
“I repeated this same strange process to make my way home.
“But I didn’t let myself panic. I assumed it would go away. And, sure enough, I woke up the next day and my eyelids were heavy, but I could open and close them at will.
“Come 10am, though, the shutdown happened again!”
What is blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is a rare neurological disorder.
People who have the condition experience involuntary muscle spasms and contractions of the muscles around the eyes.
In the early stages, most people will experience frequent or forced blinking.
You might also have eye irritation which can be made worse by bright lights.
The cause is still unknown but researchers say it could be down to genetic or environmental factors.
It usually affects women more than men and the average age of those developing the condition is 56.
At first, his doctor though he had dry eyes, but drops failed and Robert continued with his life – including his commute.
He was only able to continue his role as at the time, as he had been passing it on to other members as he had been retiring.
He said: “I would explain that I was listening even if my eyes were closed.
"I didn’t want people to think I was being rude or was uninterested. If I needed to say something, I would briefly open my eyes.
“I was almost completely blind.
"I bought numerous pairs of sunglasses and goggles to protect my eyes from any air movement, which seemed to trigger the eyelids to close.
"This helped marginally, but as my eyes became increasingly tired throughout the day they would close for longer periods of time.
“When walking, I could only keep my eyes open for a fraction of a second at a time – enough to see where I was and enable me to walk for the next five seconds with my eyes closed.
"But one day I collided with a lamppost which made me realise that I couldn’t continue with this bizarre routine," he said.
In March 2015 he was referred to private specialist Professor Bernie Chang at Optegra Eye Hospital in Bradford, East Yorkshire.
It was then he was told he had blepharospasm and medics immediately suggested botox.
He added: "At that point I would have tried anything. I didn’t hesitate. Within 24 hours of my first treatment, I saw improvement and I haven’t had a complete shutdown since.”
In total, he has now had 16 botox injections into his eyelids and around his eyes.
He has to go for treatment every two to three months.
Robert can still feel the condition and says he is learning to manage it.
He added: "It does make everyday actions like reading more challenging, though.
"I used to sit down and read for two to three hours but these days, half an hour would be pushing it because my eyes start to feel tired.
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"And even though I have perfect eyesight, it’s a constant strain on my eyes.
"Still, thanks to Botox, rather than being a disability now, it is now more of a nuisance.”
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