Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What are barrier glasses?

I have gotten a few emails asking about barrier glasses so I thought I would explain what they are and why I need to wear them. In 02 when I ran my 3rd 100M race at CCC100M at about mile 70 my vision started to get super foggy. It was dark so I thought it was something under my contacts. I pulled out the contact, cleaned it and found nothing. I popped it back in my eye and there was no difference. As the race continued and the sun came up it got worse and worse. By the end of the event I couldn't make out anything which made finishing the race long and annoying. All I saw was a white blur. I was super scared but within about 6 hours after the race and some rest I was fine. I went to my eye doctor immediately on Monday and he checked everything out, listened to my story and decided it was a reaction to Flonaise (allergy medication) or dehydration. The next 100M I ran was WS100M the following year. I wore my glasses to run the race instead of contacts. By mile 55 I was having problems again. I knew what was coming and tried to drink lots, put eye drops in my eyes to no avail. By the last 10 miles I was completely blind. I couldn't make out my hand in front of my face. When the sun came up Stacey looked at my eyes and freaked! They were totally white and looked like a dog who has cataracts. I was actually a little scared myself. Stacey summoned Bill who was at Robie Point. He came down and had a fit. I had to put my hand on their back to guide me to the finish, very sad and very pathetic. The best thing that happened was having such a disaster at WS100M because the medical professionals have seen it all and they just happened to have an eye doctor there. They took one look at my eyes, had another doctor come over and they said I had Corneal Abrasions all over my eye. They also eased my mind by telling me the Cornea is the fastest healing tissue in the body and that is why my doctor did not know the real problem. After about 7 hours of sleeping my eyes normal. What to do??? Rachel Landon who is an ultra runner and an opthamologist who lives here in Portland recommended I see a Cornea Specialist at the Casey Eye Institute. I was all over that because my days of running more than about 6 hours was not looking good.

I saw Dr. Rich and he listened to my story and looked at my Corneas. He said my Corneas was super healthy which was relieving. What he found interesting and odd is I don't close my eyes all the way when I blink or sleep. My eyeball is too big for my eye lid. He thought this was part of the problem and any wind, dust or any other irritant was not being cleared. My eyes produced enough fluid but without a full blink a line was left to dry out. The remedy was to have a small surgical procedure to pin my eye at the corner but he wasn't sure that would stop the abrasions. He also said small abrasions are normal, we get them all the time without knowing but the extent in which I was getting them was not normal. He described it as having a windshield that is completely scratched up and that is exactly what it's like. He suggested goggles but sent me down to the eye glasses guy at the Casey Institute who makes a barrier frame. I went down and here they are! They are ugly but they work! I have never had a problem since. The barrier is cut for my eye and face so they fit perfectly and create a lovely environment for my giant eyeball. The following year at WS100M they asked me to show them my barriers because apparently MANY runners are getting very mild versions and think it's dehydration or something else. It goes away sooooooo fast when you rest. For me any race that has a large amount of dust and dry air spells disaster so I need to wear them for anything over 50K. So, why didn't I wear them at WR50M because I was not thinking clearly which left not seeing clearing! :)


  1. what up Giant EYE :-)

    u know someone had to poke a little fun about da eyes- haha

    That is pretty cool about the whole eyes situation and how the barrier glasses have helped. Make sure you bring those to GTR( well I know you will) cause it is dusty & dry air... umm but fun :-)

    Hope ur blisters are on the mend and you can get in a couple more good runs in before GTR which is now 30 days away ( ya I am freaking & will have two giant eyes at the start!!


  2. It was nice to meet you at WR, your blisters look awfully painful, that's some serious determination to finish, on top of all the other stuff, eyes, etc. Congratulations! And PR!! Glenn told me about your Big Horn win and sent along your blog, I look forward to reading about all your awesome runs/races.

  3. Wow -- thanks for explaining! That's really interesting. You would have never known that if you weren't an ultra runner! How cool!!! They just look like glasses -- maybe not the cutest things ever but certainly not horrible or ugly. Plus you could pretty much wear anything and look fast and stylin'!

  4. Rhonda - I had to chuckle at this blog response to the e-mails you received -- only because I almost sent one myself. I discovered dry eyes and corneal abrasions after my Lasik surgery. I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat but the scratched eye thing can be quite a bother. After reading your earlier WR blog entry I guessed what you meant about the barrier glasses and went out and got some. So far the dust isn't bothering me - we'll see how they do on Haulin' Aspen on Sunday. Thanks for writing.