Hi there again. I wanted to make a (not so) little summary about my ledstrain case. It willl be long, and I´ll try to shorten it as much as possible. But as my story is related to many others in relation to previous health conditions, I would like to name them all, so there´s more information out there (even if we still can´t do a lot with it for now). Because ledstrain seems to have, in many cases, a neurological source, I will focus on that conditions, which in my case include other 4, al related to sensorial issues.
#1: being a kid, I use to feel from time to time some sort of pain under the ribs, both sides, as I was running or doing exercises. Breathing was painful until I stopped exercising, but the pain lingered on. Felt like someone was stabbing me. Later, a similar feeling started to occur in the chest. It could be very painful, and would also move to the ribs. It ached at the heart level, which was nothing funny. After many medical consultations (which involved, of course, a diagnosis of “panic attack” despite I haven´t felt tachycardia, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, or no other symptoms like that) a doctor concluded that I suffered from either costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone, or, more likely, intercostal neuralgia, a condition that causes pain along the nerves located between the ribs. It is still triggered sometimes when I exercise, sometimes if I hit the chest against something, and sometimes there are just no triggers at all. It usually lasts weeks, going on and off. Nothing to do about that.
#2: Again, another form of neuralgia (which, btw, is pain along the distribution of the nerves). After accidentally hitting my head and feeling some headache, I began to suffer from occipital neuralgia, that is, a specific form of headache on the scalp. The symptom is called allodynia, which is described as experiencing pain from stimuli that isn’t normally painful. It feels as if someone is pulling my hair, even if there´s nothing over my head (let alone if someone or something touches it). Again, it is activated when I hit my head, even if it was a light hit. And, again, it might last days or weeks going on and off. I´m able to manage the pain taking a medication with contains acetaminophem (Tylenol), a acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) and caffeine.
#3 Severe TMJ problems, beginning ten years ago. I won´t describe them in extent; suffice to say that my jaw is shorter than it should be (“malocclusion type 2”). This causes everything else in my head to compensate this problem, including a bad alignment of jaw and teeth. I´m under treatment now, and I´m supposed to undergo ortognatic surgery in a year or so. As this TM disorders (TMD) might affect the trigeminal nerve, which basically goes along all the face, it might be related to (and even trigger, or at least aggravate) some of my conditions. A lot of people here have TMD, as it is shown in a large post initiated by @Harrison on on. I also live with constant back (cervical, dorsal, and lumbar) pain, which might be a consequence of the TMD.
#4 Hyperacusis. Again, triggered by a specific event (a exposure to a loud noise). If you are not familiarized with this condition, it can be said that it basically consist in a dimished tolerance to everyday sounds (which can worsen the condition if they are louder than you can tolerate) of neurological origin, which cause many ugly simptoms that I won´t describe here. If any of this rings a bell, you can check here for basic info https://hyperacusis.net/what-is-hyperacusis/4-types-of-sound-sensitivity/ and here https://www.healthline.com/health/hyperacusis#symptoms. Beware: there´s still a lot of inaccurate information out there).
#5 Lastly, eyestrain (yes, my life is permanent joy). I will go with a little more detail here. Again, it was triggered by a specific event: a long work journey with my computer (see the pattern here? Head hit leads to neuralgia, noise exposure leads to hyperacusis, long led screen exposure leads to eyestrain, all chronic neurological conditions which improve avoiding the triggers and get worse by exposing to them… and yet, neurologists don´t know what to do with me). Unlike many of you, I don´t fell any nausea, or headache, or migraine. My eyes just get tired as if I´ve working with my computer for 12 hours… after only 2 minutes with a white color background. If I don´t stop using the computer, it also hurts, and the symptoms last longer, even days, where I need to avoid all screens. Sunlight, and specifically sunlight reflection, causes the same symptoms. If I move my eyes to the sides, in an attempt to look at something without moving the head, I also get eye pain. I do have a tendency to “underblink”, if you will… dry eyes, that is. But eyedrops didn´t improve my symptoms. Leaving that aside, all medical tests showed normal results.
Regarding screens, there seems to be no difference at all. The brighter and whiter, the worse it gets for me.
*My problems seem not to be (mainly) related with:
-temporal dithering, PWM flickering, or low refresh rates: I bought a Dasung e-ink screen, and while it helps a lot, I have problems with it too. It is true that the refresh rate is lower (40hz) than the average LCD screens, but sometimes I´m able to use it for hours before I get eyestrain. Fun fact: I can read without any problems from my kindle, also an e-ink device. Yet, the issue is not related to the refresh rate. More on that later.
-Windows 10: I have the same problems with my android smartphone or TVs of any kind, so I don´t think W10 drivers are a problem here.
-HDMI vs SVGA connections: make no difference in relation to built-in screens.
-different types of incandescent bulbs: also don´t make any difference. I have no problem with the light bulbs, at least directly, if I don´t stare at them (but who’s comfortable doing that, anyway). However, I try to avoid the light hitting directly my eyes.
*Let me tell you now the things that I have tried and didn´t work:
-dark mode. Helps a little bit, but not enough. Instead of getting eyestrain after 2 minutes using a white color background, I might get 5 to 10 if I´m lucky. Other background colors also help a little bit.
-Eye protection software: Iris also helps in health mode, which significantly diminishes blue light. Might give me some more tolerance, but it´s not a dealbreaker. Haven´t tried f.lux, because Iris looked more promising. If you are using f.lux, Iris is worth a try.
-blue blocking glasses: made the problem worse when I used them. I thought I was just undergoing through an adaptation period, and used them initially to read paper books during weeks. But they triggered the same symptoms as if I was reading from a screen.
-FL 41 glasses: I bought a Theraspecs model, pink tinted. Same result.
-SSRIs: I have been using venlafaxine, which seems to improve some neurological conditions, for a year now. 75 mg at first, then 150mg. No results at all. I´m about to quit.
-A new neuro-ophthalmologist (I don´t keep track anymore of how many doctors from different specialities I have visited in the last 3 years) put me on lamotrigine, used for visual snow. I´m not yet in an useful dosis (it is upscaled incrementally). I don´t expect much from it, but I´m open to anything. I will know in some weeks.
+Things that I havent´t tried yet:
-Generic screen drivers, as I learned here that Intel ones seem to affect some people. I don’t think it will help, but it is literally costless to try.
-Irlen filters. But I guess the logic is the same as wearing glasses with coloured filters, which would probably have better results. More on that later.
+Things that are working:
-sunglasses in the outside. I have no problem with sunglare (with a few exceptions), which destroy my eyes even inside my house (the reflection of the sun in the white paint of the building next to me simply kills my eyes).
-I´m trying a new approach with the Dasung, which seems to be working so far (fingerscrossed): I realized this week that, if I use it directly under a light bulb, I get worst in a few minutes. If that light hits the screen from further, it gets a little better. Also, under natural light (filtered by sunscreen roll up curtains), I get a lot more working time before eyestrain hits, although it does at some point. So I figured the problem is not the screen itself, but the light reflecting on it. Specially, because it isn´t exactly a matte screen. With this in mind, I rearranged the working desk in a specific way. Sitting with the light hitting the screen wasn´t working, and the other way around means me facing the sunlight: bad idea. But if I sit not in front and not against, but with the sunlight hitting my side, it does not impact directly on the screen. However, the light hits me from a side. Covering my head with a cap appears to the trick for me… so far. It´s been only 2 days, and I´m still waiting for the thing to fail… not because I´m intrinsically pessimistic, but because everything else has failed so far… we´ll see. In any case, it is working better than before, so that´s already a good result. Worth a try if you have problems with e-ink screens.
+A new thing that might work:
-Yesterday I attended a glass filter test in an optic. I have tried many filters against bulbs and screens, and there was one that apparently work (and I say apparently because... well, sometimes I have a better day and I can work longer with an lcd screen. But I was using one for half an hour, which is usually enough to destroy my eyes even in the best of days, and with the filter on, nothing happened). More on that later, if you want (I won´t receive the glasses until the end of next month). Curious fact: the filter is blue tinted. Yes, I saw everything a little bluer. One would say that, because using blue filters on my pc and smartphone helps a little bit, blue would be the first color to discard. Makes no sense, but this is what happens to me.
Another fun fact that doesn´t seem to affect anyone here, or at least I missed it: if I´m not strained, I can watch videos for hours in the very screen where I can´t read more than 5 minutes, no matter what setup I use. At some point I get eyestrain, sure, but it might be 3, 4 or more hours. Again, makes no sense at all. In a bigger screen, however, I have less tolerance, which does make some sense. Furthermore: even in my own screen, I need to have the Iris filter activated, specially for reading subtitles in bright white (I guess I could change the subtitle colour if I´m using VLC, but I would probably find the rest of the image too bright for me). But even under that conditions… it´s weird. Yeah, everything that happens to us is weird, but this is just… weirder.
So, that´s it for me. I don´t know what to do with all that (It seems no one does), but, to me, everything has to be connected somehow. Some of my senses seem to be overstimulated, probably dut to some kind of neurological malfunction. Which one, no one knows. Maybe I won´t see that figured out ever; maybe I will. But, in the meantime, sharing information might be worth it, if only to learn better ways to deal with it.
Thanks for reading,