When I was filmed for a 3-minute video about how I’ve dealt with dry eyes, I was asked to describe my “turning point.”
I believe I’ve had more than one turning point. There wasn’t one moment when I felt I was “cured,” but there were many moments – baby steps where I saw definite improvement. Improvement came with my willingness to search and try new remedies; not an easy thing for me because sometimes those new remedies caused my eyes to feel worse.
Finding a support group gave me an excellent place to share and gather information.
When the video was filmed several months ago, my greatest turning point was when I discontinued using artificial tears, eyelid wipes and gels. I hadn’t realized I was overusing them and they were irritating my eyes.
Someone in my support group had found success through a naturopathic doctor. When a good friend mentioned she was seeing an excellent one – I decided to go to that same NT doctor. I had allergies, which were clearly evident with other health issues that had cropped up. And the likelihood that I had a food allergy was something I also considered.
I could evaluate my improvement by using letter grades. When I discovered my problem was an allergy and stopped doing the things that irritated my eyes – I went from a D/F to a C. That was a huge jump and really improved my quality of life.
It was that NT doctor who suggested a technique for soaking my eyes at night with coconut oil. The grade I would use after I began using coconut oil would be a B. Reaching a B was wonderful and certainly livable. After living with F eyes for three years, I was elated.
I wondered if I could achieve an A grade for my eyes. To me, that would mean that I could “forget about them” and they would feel like they used to.
For almost a year, I struggled to simply accept my C grade eyes. The thought of being disappointed again was too much for me to deal with. But I realize that I was gathering my strength. At the same time I planned to see the NT doctor, I made an appointment to be fitted with scleral lenses.
The appointment was over a month away. I debated about whether to cancel it after my eyes improved due to the coconut oil. It was very expensive and required a commitment. However, the fact that my eyes were less irritated gave me confidence and I decided to follow through.
When I had my first appointment, I was very impressed with the optometrist. He was very thorough and had read my chart carefully. When he asked me about my experience with daily soft contact lenses, I told him I had tried three times and the contacts hadn’t worked for different reasons. I longed for the vision I had with hard lenses for almost 40 years, even though I was practically blind without my lenses.
After some thought he said, “Let my try you with daily soft lenses first. Scleral lenses are extremely challenging to put in and take out. You don’t open your eyes well and that would make it harder. Since you’re experiencing less irritation, daily lenses might work for you.”
During that first appointment, I spent two hours in his office while he experimented with inserting different lenses in my eyes. I was a little disoriented from the different vision, but willing to try.
When I went home, I had a lot of trouble taking the lenses out. I was annoyed with myself because I thought I remembered how. I told the optometric assistant that I knew how, but instead I was at home pulling at my eyeballs and very frustrated. My eyes were extremely irritated for two days after that.
I sent the doctor a message and told him what had happened; I thought perhaps this was a dead end. He wrote back and encouraged me to come back in two weeks to try the samples he had ordered. He added that I would learn exactly how to take the lenses out when I was there.
I had two more appointments with this doctor. I learned how to easily put in and take the lenses out. But the best part was that I was amazed by the quality of my vision. It seemed that so many of the problems that I had with PVD, floaters and fog, seemed to be less distracting with better vision.
I didn’t use any contact lens solutions, which had preservatives and irritants. I purchased a saline solution to soak the lenses if I took them out during the day. At night, the lenses were thrown away.
Every time I wore these new lenses, I was in a state of awe and amazement. I could see the way I used to. I had always hated glasses.
Until I had great vision with these lenses, the most beautiful part of my journey was that my eyes didn’t hurt anymore. I have to admit that sometimes after wearing the lenses for a few hours, my eyes were tired and sore the rest of the day. I decided I was like Cinderella; I accepted that my “fairy tale” wasn’t absolutely perfect – but it was certainly good enough for me.
With my new daily soft contact lenses, I could give my eyes an A grade! I still had days where my eyes weren’t as good as others. But it was nothing like it was before and life was so much better. I began to plan a trip, whereas before I was afraid of traveling due to my eye condition.
My dry eye journey has been a grief process. I experienced profound depression, frustration and simply moved forward with it.
Since cataract surgery, my eyes were different. I couldn’t go back to where I started so instead I’ve reached a new place.
I am so grateful that I can journey forward in my life with a different focus that is not about dealing with discomfort in my eyes.
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