For many of us, the title of this month's column brings to mind the 1972 hit from Johnny Nash. It's one of my favorites, an uplifting tune that has been a needed mood-changer for me many times.
The expression that serves as the title of that song has a different and double meaning for me this month. As I write this I'm recovering from a bout with keratitis, which is an infection of the cornea. For about 48 hours when the infection was at its peak, I didn't welcome the fact that it was "a bright sunshiny day." Sunlight caused discomfort, so I preferred overcast days and, more than that, the darkness of night.
However, thanks to doctors and medicine, after just a couple days of discomfort I realized, "I think I can make it now, the pain is gone." And here today, little more than a week after keratitis had me down and out, "all of the bad feelings have disappeared." And unlike a week ago, I can indeed see clearly now.
The doctors are confident, and I'm sure they're right, that my use of contact lenses was the underlying reason for the infection. One doctor asked if I had done any work along the line of what we see on Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" while wearing my contacts. I hadn't. The most likely cause was me foolishly trying to wear one-day lenses for as many days as possible. At some point the lens picked up bacteria, and I placed that bacteria directly on my cornea the next time I put in the lens.
As I experienced the discomfort of a self-induced infected eye, I couldn't ignore the analogy to properly, or improperly, cleaning fiber-optic endfaces. What happened to my eye parallels what can happen to a fiber-optic circuit that is not properly cleaned. In both cases, a microscopic contaminant can cause significant irritation. For me, putting a contaminated lens into my eye sealed my fate. For a fiber connection, the results can be similar. The experts at Sticklers tell us, "If an operator cleans only one end of a mated connector pair and then mates it with an unclean connector, both endfaces end up contaminated. Residues will transfer from the contaminated endface to the clean endface ... In effect, contamination migrates."
Dust on a fiber endface can create pits and scratches that require the connector to be cut off and replaced. Untreated keratitis can lead to vision loss. All from microscopic contaminants and, in the case of my eye at least, avoidable errors. For me, it was a lesson learned "the hard way" but certainly not "the hardest way possible." For you, please learn from my mistakes, not your own.