A debut graphic novel details the origins, nature, and potential treatments for dry eyes.
Vallely’s book is about as unconventional an example of a personal health manual as any reader is likely to encounter. The guide is a full-color, graphic-novel overview of the medical condition of dry eye, narrated by an animated talking eyeball. The author warns his readers repeatedly that he’s not a medical professional (“After all, the advice has been given by a talking eyeball,” he deadpans. “Consider yourself warned”). But he is a working cartoonist who’s suffered from dry eye himself and gone through the process of understanding this condition, for which there is no permanent cure, and dealing with it successfully. His goal in these pages is to present his findings “in plain English with hardly any technical jargon” (“Because eyeballs can’t pronounce big words”). The quick, compulsively readable chapters take the audience through every step of the world of dry eye: what it is, the biology of the body’s eye hydration, and the various methods to treat the condition (as the talking eyeball sternly says at this point, “I’m still not a doctor”). Assorted kinds of eye drops, gels, and packs are discussed in detail, with their strengths and potential drawbacks carefully and evenhandedly assessed. The book’s main concentration is dry eye, but Vallely expands his inquiry to include eye strain of all kinds—which broadens the book’s prospective audience to pretty much everybody, because, as the talking eyeball points out, “when it comes to high-energy colors fryin’ your eyeballs, it’s hard to top computers!” (Unfortunately, nearly everyone uses backlit screens.) Even largely anecdotal remedies like flaxseed oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and even, counterintuitively, coffee are investigated, and all of it is handled with a great deal of intelligence and plenty of wonderful moments of snarky humor, both verbal and visual. Anyone who’s ever had eye problems should find this guide both delightful and intriguing.
A funny and surprisingly thorough tour of the problems of sore, dry eyes—and possible ways to fix them.