Seeing in the Sun
Last updated: August 2023
For a few years, while I had thyroid eye disease (TED), my eyes were so sensitive to light. To the point where going outside was impossible. I would step outside and feel blinded by the sun.
It physically hurt my eyeballs, and I would walk outside with my eyes closed if I forgot my sunglasses, squinting every so often to make sure I was going in the right direction. I recently had an experience that reminded me just how far I have come in my journey.
Avoiding the sun before and after my thyroid eye disease diagnosis
Even before I developed TED, I avoided the sun. In my 20's, I stopped liking being in the sun for long periods of time. As a child, I lived in the sun. My family lived in Arizona and I spent more time in the summer in the pool in my backyard than I did indoors. I loved feeling the sun warm up my body. I loved how it warmed up the water as I swam below the surface.
Then there was a shift. I do not know what exactly caused my disinterest in the sun. Maybe it was going to the beach with my family and having no control over how long we would be there. I come from a family who soaks up the sun every chance they get, for as long as they can. So I would be there to the point where I would be uncomfortable. Maybe it was because I am not that big a fan of sand.
Developing TED did not change my opinion of the sun. In fact, it reinforced how important it is for me to avoid it altogether.
The TED non-sun days
I have worn sunglasses since I was a preteen. I have always loved how a sunglasses frame changes your appearance and hides my eyes while protecting them at the same time. A hat was added to my uniform when I got TED, and the light became overwhelming and unbearable.
Walking out into the sunlight with TED, my reality would turn white. I could not see a thing. I felt vulnerable and exposed to light because I could no longer co-exist with it the way I used to. The warmth of summer was no longer something I appreciated, but a reminder of all the things I could not do because of this disease. Even though I had been actively avoiding them prior to TED.
Naps under the sun
After years of choosing not to be in the sun, a bout with TED, working inside with no windows, and months of rainy cold weather, I was more than itching to be outside. I felt the urge to be outside again the way I had not felt since I was a child.
I recently moved to a town close to the beach, and often go there. I sit on the beach, read my books, and feel comfortable under the sun. I missed this feeling. I spend more time outside at my aunt and uncle’s camp by the lake than I do in.
I even take a nap under the sun. When I wake up and remove the hat covering my face, I notice how I can see without sunglasses with the midday early summer sun beaming down. Little reminders of just how far I have come.
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