8 years and counting
My story began at work in early 2012. I was middle-aged and had never had any noteworthy optical issues except for occasional ocular migraines, which were interesting. (As well, starting at age 40, I had insomnia-induced paper-dry eyes. Literally, my lenses would fall out. But they were fine when I did sleep.) At any rate, suddenly, my computer screen began to look blurry. I looked away and blinked a few times. Didn’t help. Bought some eyedrops on the way home, probably Visine (Argghhh!). By the time I got home, things were better, but the blurriness and discomfort returned at work. I asked to be moved to another location, away from a heat vent right above my head. After a month or so of begging (I was a government contractor at the time), they moved me and things improved.
In the meantime, I went to see my eye doc, an optometrist who was very popular and knowledgeable. Before him, I had always seen ophthalmologists, but he was very highly recommended by a trusted friend, and I was happy with him. After taking a look, he said that I had MGD. He put me on antibiotics, but I was sure that wouldn’t work and they did not. I wish!! Also prescribed Fresh-Kote. Of course, they made my eyes feel better. He also told me to use very warm eye packs. Problem was, I was making them too hot and ended up with broken vessels under my eyes, so I started making my own, which cover only my lids. As well, I do not make them as warm as before.
OK, so this regimen was helping. When I saw the eye doc for annual exam, he was all aglow and excited! “Do I have news for you!! I have a cure for your dry eye. Just received training and equipment called Lipiflow.” And he went on to describe. I had lost my job and I made all my docs aware of that, so I wasn’t happy when I asked the price and he said 2k per eye. As well, it would have to be repeated. Oh and not covered by insurance. When I got home, I looked up this procedure, and at the time it was very new and definitely not proven to cure dry eye at all. Mixed reviews and as we all know, the “reviewer” trust factor is debatable. I no longer trusted this doc, though, so I did not go back again. He liked buying toys and passing the cost on to his “customers.”
After a year or so, other symptoms began to occur. Redness of the upper eyelids and lower margins, chalazions, horrible granulation and loss of eyelashes, white growths that I have surgically removed, only to return elsewhere, the infamous feeling of something in the eye, eye redness, a dead look to my once bright corneas, horrendous irritation if not enough sleep, and really one of the most depressing things of all, total allergy to ALL eye makeup or any product applied near or above the eye. The burning will start in about a minute and grow to pure agony. It feels like all the moisture in my eyes is sucked up and they’ve turned inside out. I hate looking at myself. I hate going out. I don’t feel like myself.
So what have I tried? The docs, all ophthalmologists, have not been helpful, all 6-8 of them. Some advertise as dry eye specialists. Sure. Each contradicts the next, *asks* me if I want to try this or that, etc. So, I began to research dry eye myself. In so doing, I see that there is no definitive info. My self-diagnosis is blepharitis perhaps caused by MGD. The Dry Eye Zone has been very helpful. Thank you! Refresh artificial tears are my best friend and I have them with me all the time…very costly. I have tried punctal plugs which seem to help some with the irritation but not the red margins and lids, the white growths or being able to wear eye makeup. I still do the warm compresses every AM, but who knows what good they do. Nothing ever expresses from my eye. Tried lid scrubs but then was told by the woman who removes my growths that they are too drying, so I’ve stopped those. Notice no difference. I was offered Restasis and Xidra but doc didn’t have a word to say about either. Just gave me prescriptions and coupon. I declined. Then was told, once again by doc removing growths, that these meds, Restatis in particular, were very strong and probably would not help me. I have a feeling she’s right. From what I’ve read they don’t really address the tear mixture or reduce granulation or red lid margins.
I have used a Cortisone cream very carefully on my upper lids, not the lower as too close to the eyes. May ask about an antibiotic cream for the eyes when I return to her for new punctal plugs.
*Here I want to make specific and gigantic mention of the role exercise plays in my dry eye. After I work out, even if they’ve been dry as Arizona all day, my eyes feel so much better! I don’t know if the stimulation of endorphins causes better tear production but it would be a worthwhile study!!! This is a FACT friends! It works and sometimes all the rest of the day and evening until about 10 or 11 when they begin to get tired and need Refresh.
IT WORKS! I encourage everyone to work out every day if you can or every other day…30 minutes or so, with 20 of them increasing the heart rate. Doesn’t have to be difficult, just enough to elevate the heart rate for 20 min or so.
PLEASE TRY THIS!!
I decided to Google “Dry eyes and exercise” and look what came up immediately:
“Do Exercise: Regular exercise unquestionably does all sorts of good things for us. The main medical benefit is perhaps the power to decrease inflammation, which it does through the release of endorphins. For that reason, exercise contributes to the health of the ocular surface. Regular exercise- at least 20 minutes of exercise that increases your heart rate 5x a week- is highly recommended for dry eye sufferers.” OMG!!! Do it!!!
If this is the worst thing to happen to me in the life I have left, I’d be thrilled, but it certainly has taken quite a bit of joy from life. My heart goes out to those of you who are dealing with much more than I am and I applaud your efforts to live life as heartily as possible. Keep the spirits up!