Local News

Meteorologist Mike Maze 'humbled' his diagnosis helped so many others

Posted June 4, 2018 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:14 a.m. EDT

— Most people who use glasses for reading text or fine print have lenses that fine-tune their vision and make their lives easier. But for WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze and others living with chronic blurred vision, anxiety and headaches, a pair of glasses can help literally open up new roads.

Blurred vision, uneasiness, frayed nerves and anxiety were just a few things Maze was feeling before he found relief.

"It got to the point where I couldn't drive on the interstate anymore at night," he said.

Maze first realized he had this condition a year ago, but he didn't know why.

"The cars passing by and their lights would just make me anxious. Then, I would start to panic because you get a wave of anxiety and you’re thinking, 'Oh, God. I'm going to have an accident,'" Maze said. "I just felt like the world was closing in on me, and it was a feeling of dread. I felt like a feeling of doom."

Maze said it began taking over his life.

"I was living in fear the whole time," he said.

So, one evening in February in the WRAL Weather Center, Maze typed into Google, "Why can't I drive on the interstate at night?"

He arrived at a website where other people explained that they had experienced the same thing. Maze filled out a questionnaire, and that led him to Dr. Jeffrey Handschumacher at the Family Eye Care Center in North Raleigh.

The condition is called Vertical Heterophoria, meaning Maze's right eye and left eye are misaligned and his brain was trying to compensate.

"The brain sends a signal to their eyes that says, "Hey, we don't want to see two images, we want to see one.' So, it stimulates the eye muscles to realign to see everything," Handschumacher said.

Handschumacher said overstimulation of the muscles tires them out, and can trigger symptoms of dizziness, headaches, anxiety and fatigue.

The prescription - a simple pair of glasses.

"The lenses have what's called prism," Handschumacher said. "So, when the light enters the lenses, it slightly bends the light, either up or down, in or out, more than normal to help relax the eyes."

For Maze, the experience was eye opening. He posted about it on his Facebook page.

"There was one gentleman from Johnston County. He said, 'Oh my God. You just saved my life. I've been dealing with this for the past five years, and nobody could figure it out, and I have the exact same symptoms you have,'" Maze said.

Almost immediately, hundreds of people responded, taking the same online questionnaire to see if the answer to Maze's problem was the answer to theirs.

"It gave me hope that there could be relief," said Lara Andrews.

Andrews saw Maze's story and decided to do some research. She suffered from chronic headaches for years, seeing neurologists, eye doctors and chiropractors for help. Not until her condition was diagnosed did she find relief.

"It's an answer to prayers. It feels like a miracle to wake up without a headache. It was just amazing. It's like a whole new life ahead of me," she said.

Handschumacher said he's had some emotional reactions.

"A lot of people pick up their glasses and some have started crying, been in tears," he said. "Others have been shocked at how much calmer they felt, or how much steadier the world has been," he said.

Maze said to know that he helped so many others find relief is humbling.

"It's very humbling. I didn't expect this kind of outcome," he said.