# 46 I WAS HEALED

I remembered how I used to leave eye appointments with my throat choked with tears. When I’d get to my car, I’d sob for a few minutes before driving home. I was very thankful that those days were behind me now.

The scary header image I used for my blog, helped describe the awful feeling of having something sharp in my eyes 24/7.

It was a beautiful day. After much needed rain, the air was clear and slightly warm. Even though it wasn’t spring yet, the smell of blossoms caused me to inhale deeply.

I walked briskly toward the building where I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist. It had been 9 months since I had last seen my doctor. Even though she wasn’t able to “cure” my dry eyes, I always respected her. She would prescribe things that I asked for, such as serum tears. Few people ever had that covered by insurance, but mine were. Unfortunately serum tears and most remedies didn’t help my problem, they worsened it.

This would definitely be an interesting appointment because I wasn’t suffering anymore with unrelenting eye irritation and pain.

I managed just fine with my eyes now. Some days were better than others. On this particular day, my eyes were tired and slightly dry. It was probably due to spending a lot of time on my computer the night before. But I had escaped the lifelong diagnosis of dry eye suffering and for that, I was eternally grateful.

As I opened the doors to my ophthalmologist’s office, I wondered, “How had I escaped?”

I often shared my technique of using coconut oil. But other than one woman who said it was helpful for her, no one else seemed to have been cured as dramatically as I was. I remember how I used to search the dry eye support group site. I was envious of people who found relief. I tried so many things, and was devastated when they hurt my eyes. I had such a long list.

I tried acupuncture. It was relaxing, but my dry eye problem wasn’t alleviated.

Many items I ordered were expensive. If I couldn’t use them, I mailed them for free to any dry eyes sufferers who were interested. That helped me feel better about it.

Perhaps the key for me was that I never gave up.

I did rest for periods of time; I admit I was in complete despair. But it wasn’t giving up because eventually I went back to trying something else.

These are a partial list.

The last thing on my list was to go to a naturopathic doctor. I had heard of that before, but without a recommendation I had no idea who to trust. Plus it was expensive. So instead I tried dietary changes on my own without any improvement of my eye condition.

When I did go to a NT (naturopathic) doctor, I made many changes. (See posts: #40 A NATURAL PATH-PART 1 and #41 A NATURAL PATH-PART 2)

I attribute my cure to the coconut oil technique. The week before I started it, I finished a regimen of preservative-free allergy eye drops that were a disaster. My eyes were horrible and I went to see the optometrist who recommended those drops. She saw my irritation and told me to discontinue them immediately.

The night after that appointment I began using a coconut oil technique. I was desperate. I had waited on it because it was important for me to try only one thing at a time. That way, there would be no confusion about what worked or didn’t.

I put the oil into the eyecups and stared through it. The next morning I woke up. My eyes didn’t hurt. I couldn’t believe it!

From that day forward I continued using the oil at night. Once my eyes were better, I didn’t sustain many of the things my NT suggested. I went back to using some plastic items in my kitchen and I stopped using an air purifier in my bedroom.

I take a lot of supplements with my NT doctor and even underwent a six-week detox regimen. However, my eye issues resolved before I did this.

A few months after my eyes stopped hurting, I had an appointment scheduled for scleral lenses. They would be expensive and my eyes were much better. I debated about cancelling that appointment.

I’m glad I didn’t. The doctor suggested that instead of scleral lenses, I try soft daily contact lenses. I was amazed at how I was able to handle lenses again. These were different from the hard contact lenses I had worn for 40 years. I had to practice taking them in and out.

Initially, I received a multifocal lens for my right eye. It would allow me to have some close up vision, which was convenient. But when I’d go to a movie or play tennis, I didn’t like seeing blurry in the distance on that one eye.

A month later I asked my doctor to prescribe another lens for me that I could wear for those other situations.

I only wear my lenses about twice a week – mostly for social occasions or for a tennis game. My friends have told me I’m seeing the ball much better these days. I am elated for other reasons. Once my eye condition improved, I was able to concentrate on dieting. I gained a lot of weight during when I was suffering from dry eyes – eating helped me feel better temporarily. I took off 40 pounds in six months and was a new woman.

I feel tremendous empathy and sorrow for my fellow dry eye sufferers. I wish everyone could find something that heals him or her. I encourage people to keep trying. If I had given up, I would still be suffering.

I consider myself cured because I live my life without my eyes hurting or distracting me.

That doesn’t mean my eyes are 100% the way they were before this condition took over my life. There are times when my eyes are annoying, but I do not use any kind of drop. My problem became severe after I overused eye drops and eyelid wipes. And my eyes are still very different since having cataract surgery. I have a lot of floaters due to PVD (posterior vitreous detachment).

I’ve continued to use coconut oil before I go to bed, but not every day. If I miss a day, sometimes I’ll notice. Then I’m sure to use the oil again that night. I never use it during the day because my vision is affected and gets blurry from the oil.

I was ushered into an exam room for my appointment. The doctor’s assistant came in and asked me to look at the eye chart. I wore my glasses and asked her for results when we were done. She said, “Great! You saw 20/20!”

When my ophthalmologist came into the exam room, she carefully looked at my chart. “Your vision test was excellent,” she said warmly and added, “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while. You are able to wear contact lenses? That isn’t something recommended for people with dry eyes.”

I was excited to share with her my amazing story. I began with explaining my coconut oil technique. I described how I put the oil in eyecups at night, and after the first attempt, my eye pain went away.

She nervously laughed but seemed genuinely happy for me. “Let’s take a look at your eyes,” she said. She put in yellow fluorescein drops and turned off the light.

“Your eye pressure is good,” she said. “Everything looks great!”

I wondered if she needed to see me again. I asked her if I needed to make an appointment to come back.

“It’s not necessary,” she said. “You don’t need to come back again unless there’s a problem.”

Just as I was ready to leave, she asked me about my multifocal lens. She said, “I didn’t know those were available. I also wear dailies and now I want to get one!”

I was amazed how I was sharing helpful information with my doctor. It felt great to be a pioneer of so many positive things.

As I walked out of the building toward my car, I took a deep breath of the springtime air.

I felt like I was walking on a cloud. I remembered how I used to leave eye appointments with my throat choked with tears. When I’d get to my car, I’d sob for a few minutes before driving home.

I was very thankful that those days were behind me now.

Once my eyes were better, I took a vacation to Costa Rica. It was heavenly to travel without pain!
I was able to scuba dive and see really well with my new daily contact lenses.
I really appreciated the gorgeous jungle scenery with my lenses while rafting on my trip. I did get wet and closed my eyes during those moments.
I closed my eyes while zip lining and wearing goggles would have been a better idea.

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#45 MY HEALING AND NEW FOCUS – PART 2

My dry eye journey has been a grief process. I couldn’t go back to where I started so instead I’ve reached a new place. I am so grateful that my eye discomfort doesn’t rule my life anymore.

I have my Acuvue Moist Lens on my finger.
In this picture, I am holding an Acuvue Moist Lens on my finger.

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.

case-solution-and-lens-boxes

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.

lense-on-my-finger-2

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.

lense-on-my-finger

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#44 MY HEALING AND NEW FOCUS – PART 1

I shared my regimen with my on-line support group. One woman tried it and wrote: “I’ve been doing what Judy has been doing; it helps quite a bit.”

I faithfully continued my coconut oil regimen that was given to me by a naturopathic doctor. (#41 A NATURAL PATH-PART 2)

I wanted to give it time before jumping to any conclusions about it being the reason my eyes felt better.

I had done that before when I assumed a steroid eye drop (Durezol) was helping me when it was actually the discontinuation of eyelid wipes and artificial tears that improved my eyes. Months later when my eyes back-slid and I used Durezol, it didn’t help me.

I sought out the naturopathic doctor because I knew I had an allergy, but my insurance plan had no help for me. All the blood tests for allergies came out negative. My corneal specialist told me my corneas were fine and suggested I just use the steroid drop indefinitely, despite the risks.

I was determined to help my eyes improve and ready to expend the money and energy.

After a month of soaking my eyes with coconut oil every night, I could honestly say my eyes were better than they had been in the four years since my problem began. I was almost pain-free every day.

The process itself was actually very soothing. The oil felt really good as I stared through it. My skin around my eyes felt wonderful, too and in the morning was soft from the night before. This was unlike many things I tried. Optimel (Manuka honey eye drops), testosterone cream, Azasite and Cliradex wipes had burned my eyes like crazy. Even serum tears on two occasions had caused my eyes to swell and torment me.

There were three times when I neglected to do the nighttime regimen. Each time, my eyes were sore and irritated on the following day. This just confirmed that my regimen was working for me. What was interesting was that it wasn’t simple to fix. Soaking my eyes with coconut oil during the day left my vision blurry and my eyes remained irritated.

I shared my regimen with my on-line support group. One woman tried it and wrote: “I’ve been doing what Judy has been doing; it helps quite a bit.”

I wished more people had tried it and found relief. I understood that it was unconventional. But it was actually the first regimen that didn’t hurt my eyes.

When I discovered I did much better without artificial tears, I felt badly because some people shared that when they stopped using artificial tears, they had corneal abrasions.

This was a reminder to me. Dry eyes have many causes. Everyone must search for his or her own “cure;” there wasn’t one cure for everyone.

My own personal search was expensive, arduous and discouraging. There were times when I felt hopeless and my pain was disabling.

Even though I tried so many things that were dismal failures, giving up just wasn’t an option for me.

eyecup-closeup

 

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#41 A NATURAL PATH – PART 2

I filled the eye cups with coconut oil, and positioned them over my eyes. It was very strange – almost like looking underwater. In the morning, I was amazed at how much better my eyes felt.

I often think that dealing with dry eyes is a journey that requires resting and sprinting. Sometimes I just succumb to discouragement and try hard to accept the dismal condition that can easily rule my life. But I’ve realized that those periods are a time of gathering strength to keep trying to find a solution to my pain.

Two months ago, I felt like I was ready to try some new things to help my eyes feel better. I saw a highly recommended optometrist. She agreed with an ophthalmologist I had seen earlier in the year; my inflamed eyelids indicated that I suffered from an allergy. I had undergone allergy testing and nothing showed up. I replaced my pillow and mattress covers with expensive dust mite protective ones. What was I allergic to?

She suggested I try allergy drops again. I told her they hadn’t worked, but then she told me perhaps it was because of the preservatives. She said I could order a preservative-free allergy eye drop made by Similson.

I was determined and wanted to give this regimen a fair chance. Before the vials arrived, I tried my prescription allergy eye drops again for a few days. Within a day of doing that, my eyes were hurting. The Similson vials didn’t make a difference and I spiraled into a cycle of pain.

I decided to see the optometrist again so she could check me. She saw the irritation on my eyelids and told me to stop the drops immediately. Her recommendation was to go back on steroid eye drops twice a day.

My ophthalmologist assumed that was what I was doing. But I just was afraid to keep using them – the worst part was they didn’t seem to help me anymore. I left the appointment and went home in a fog of pain. I used the steroid drops that evening and had no relief at all.

The very familiar hopeless feeling began to set it and it was hard for me to stay positive. I had such a collection of remedies and wondered what was left to help me. A few months ago I ordered Manuka Honey drops from Australia. Before that, it was Castor Oil. Neither one helped at all.

I had another remedy to try that was given to me by a naturopathic doctor; it involved using coconut oil. I had waited on it because I didn’t want to try two things at once.

I really didn’t pin my hopes on it because I had tried using coconut oil on my eyelids a year earlier and it hadn’t helped. But I did love the smell of coconut oil; it was actually one of the best things for my hives and I kept some next to my bed.

The new regimen was a little different because I wouldn’t be putting oil in my eyes with an eye dropper. I would use eyecups; my eyes would be immersed in oil and I would do eye movements at the same time.

Now that I had stopped the allergy eye drops, it was time to give this a try.

This is from my treatment plan (Full version on Part 1).
This is from my treatment plan (Full version on Part 1).

Eye cups

LINK TO PURCHASE THE EYE CUPS ABOVE:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013WD3YCW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

First, I needed to order eye cups, preferably glass, but I decided I’d get the plastic ones first because they would arrive sooner and I could be sure if this remedy was helpful or not. The first night, I simply used an eye dropper and put the coconut oil in my eyes before bed.

I woke up and noticed an improvement – the irritation seemed to be gone.

I didn’t want to get overly excited until I was sure. The next day, the eye cups arrived. Before I went to bed, I carefully filled them with the oil. Then I bent over and lifted my head so the oil covered my eyes. I put a towel on my chest because a little oil seeped out.

Putting eyecups on

It was so strange – almost like looking underwater. But it was very cool and my eyes were relaxed. I could see all of my floaters literally floating by. I rotated my eyes in every direction ten times and then bent over to remove the cups.

I wiped my face with a towel and went to bed.

The next morning I was amazed. My eyes were so much better! What a difference it made for me when I didn’t have pain. I could function with so much more energy and hopefulness. I still had a lot of floaters and fog from PVD, but I could deal with that.

Eyecup close up 2

It has only been a week since I’ve been using the eye cups and coconut oil every night. My eyes continue to improve. Before, I used to dread the nighttime regimens. Hot compresses, Restasis and eyelid wiping – I hated them for causing my eyes to feel worse.

But now I’m actually looked forward to my new bedtime regimen. It’s soothing and I know it’s helping me!

It seems like the changes I’m making are making a difference. I look forward to getting healthier now and am so grateful that I’ve moved forward on my dry eye journey to try something that has actually helped me.

A friend shared this Internet clip with me.

A friend shared this Internet clip with me.

IMG_2369
These are brands of coconut oil that I’ve used.

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#40 A NATURAL PATH – PART 1

I made an appointment with a highly recommended naturopathic doctor, If my eyelid irritation was an allergy – certainly it seemed possible that it might be a food allergy. I was ready to give it a try.

My vocal coach, Hannah Anders, recommended the naturopathic doctor that I saw. I share an audio clip below of me discussing my experience with her.

Dry Eye Diaries Blog Excerpt with Hannah 7-28-16

Two years ago, there was a woman in my dry eye support group who had a lot of success after seeing a naturopathic doctor; she called it a “functional MD.” I had no idea where to find a functional MD in my area that I could trust, but instead I decided to follow her regimen of a paleo diet. It didn’t help my eyes, so after three months I discontinued it.

But I did keep some of the dietary changes. I stopped using artificial sweeteners and seldom drank coffee anymore.

When I made an appointment with a highly recommended naturopathic doctor, I was certain the first thing I’d need to do was change my diet again. Two eye doctors had now told me that my eyelid irritation was an allergy, so it certainly seemed possible that it could be a food allergy.

My first appointment went differently than I expected.

I arrived at the naturopathic doctor’s office; the room was comforting and had a lovely aroma. Dr. Wang warmly squeezed my hand and ushered me into her office. She sat across from me and we began discussing my health concerns. I had a list of ailments. My dry eyes were my biggest issue, followed by itchy hive outbreaks, frequent painful leg cramps and persistent heartburn. After pestering my doctor for these problems and following his recommendations, I was still tormented.

I was surprised that she didn’t examine me; there was no weighing or blood pressure check. It was basically a ninety-minute discussion.

Dr. Wang quizzed me about my eye pain and wanted to know if my eyes felt better after I cried. I told her that crying made my eyes feel significantly worse. Her conclusion was that “drainage” was my issue.

I wasn’t sure exactly what drainage referred to, but it seemed that I had the same issue with digestion. I was taking a lot of antacid to squelch my heartburn. She explained that doing that had slowed my digestion and if my food weren’t fully digested, toxins would be excreted through my skin – possibly that was the cause of my hives. And cramps were a result of vitamins not being absorbed.

I found it fascinating and it did make sense. My rash outbreaks and cramps seemed to coincide with my increasing use of antacid medications.

At the end of our appointment, she gave me a detailed treatment plan. Some of it was more than I could wrap my head around at the moment. But I was willing to try.

First, I needed to purge my life of all plastic items. I went shopping to purchase stainless steel water bottles and cookware, as well as glass storage containers. Dr. Wang explained that Teflon and anodized steel cookware wasn’t healthy – even birds died when they were exposed to it. I was so used to using plastic storage items and wasn’t sure where to begin, but I began making the switch.

My new cup
My new 32 oz. drinking cup

The hardest thing was when she asked me to stop swimming in a chlorinated pool. Swimming was exercise that calmed me and it would be tough to give up. Even though I explained that I wore goggles, she told me that skin absorption of chlorine was the problem. Her recommendation was that I walk every day for 30 minutes and include wrist or ankle weights.

Although I hated to give up swimming, I told myself it was temporary. I needed to try everything she recommended in order to help my eyes.

I purchased several supplements from her list before leaving that appointment. There were digestive enzyme caplets to take with meals, a probiotic and a Glutagenics powder added to water to soothe my heartburn.

The supplements were expensive, but within a few days I noticed I didn’t have any more itchy welts or intense leg cramps like I had before that appointment. That first week, it was challenging not to pop a Tums for heartburn, but gradually it became easier.

I was instructed to drink a lot of water and also to purchase distilled aloe vera liquid. I bought a gallon jug and was relieved that it was tasteless and easy to drink.

She was concerned that I had esophageal damage from the heartburn and recommended I ask my regular doctor for a scope test of it. My HMO doctor ordered it for me and I was also fortunate also that the lab tests she wanted would also be covered by my HMO. In three weeks we would meet again to discuss the results.

There was an eye regimen she listed that involved ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil.

I decided to wait on that regimen because I wanted to first give another regimen using preservative-free allergy eye drops a try. I let her know and she agreed that it was best to do one thing at a time.

I was grateful my other issues were diminishing – but at the same time my eyes were terrible because the allergy drops were worsening my condition. I was having a lot of trouble doing things because my vision and emotional state were affected.

Dr. Wang's Treatment Plan

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#39 Judy and Carol

I feel like that inspirational eye video I participated in came too soon. I know I was still inspirational, but it sure would be great if I had solved my chronic eye discomfort.

On Jul 15, 2016, Carol wrote:

Hi, Judy,

July half over!! Time flying!! Looking forward to cooler days, though, as heat has been bad. Your video shoot must be done by now. That was a very different thing to do.  

I’m still doing “less is more” with eyes; some days are better than others. I hope you are doing better too.

Take care, Carol

 

On Jul 15, 2016, Judy wrote:

Hi Carol,

It was so nice to hear from you this morning. It’s been awhile so I have a lot going on to share. The video shoot was definitely a great experience. It was so exciting that I was able to forget how much my eyes bothered me. I wonder if I truly conveyed the suffering this condition causes me.

Either way, if anything I said helps other people – then it was worth opening up my heart to share how I cope. And of course, am still coping! This past week was really hard for me because I had a terrible cold.

My eyes took a big hit and hurt me terribly. On top of that, I had another outbreak of hives. So I was itching and coughing all week. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt well. I also have been woken up in the mornings with awful leg cramps and heartburn.

I finally decided to try something new to help myself feel better. I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. It’s going to be this coming Wednesday. I had to fill out 9 pages for the intake. I know it will involve some radical changes – but I’m ready. When I tried paleo diet before, I was unsure of everything and gave up after a few months. This time I’m hoping I’ll get some guidance and that will make the difference.

Today I have more news. I decided to see a friend’s highly recommended optometrist. I know that optometrists can also treat dry eye, so I was hoping for some other new ideas.

This doctor was lovely and she explained so many things to me that made sense. She said my meibomium glands were pretty open, but my eyelids were severely irritated.

Right away, she felt it was an allergy.

I told her Claritin and allergy drops hadn’t helped. She felt allergy drops might have irritated my eyes with preservatives. I was impressed when she did some research and found some that were preservative-free. I ordered them on Amazon with a rush when I got home. I’m seeing her again in two weeks and will see if these drops help.

As far as my vision, she said I’d be a great candidate for scleral lenses. That could solve my vision and dry eye issues (hopefully!). It’s very expensive, but now I’m willing to try.

I feel like that inspirational eye video I participated in came too soon. I know I was still inspirational, but it sure would be great if I had solved my chronic eye discomfort.

I will continue to keep trying and trying! I’ll definitely let you know how it goes with the new naturopathic doctor next week.

In the meantime, hope you have a good weekend and aren’t boiling over there.

Judy

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#38 I WILL SHINE

The big day arrived and it was such a magical experience. Of course, it passed really quickly and was very much like being Cinderella.

Judy playing with make up

When I made the decision to participate in a short video documentary about dry eyes, life became very exciting. Initially, I wasn’t sure I was up to doing it and had to get over feeling self-conscious about my appearance. Thankfully, I overcame my fears because I was very motivated to share my inspirational story.

I was paid for my time and that was important to me because it made the project legitimate. I had no idea a film crew of three people would be flying in from Virginia. I was glad that I would meet the producer, Jackie, whom I’d spoken with several times on the phone.

In this picture, I’m with Jackie, the producer
In this picture I’m with Jackie, the producer.

I was asked to choose someone to interact with who knew me well and my childhood friend, Joni, agreed to participate. A week before the filming, we went out shopping together. It was “girlfriend” time!

I’ve known Joni all my life. She lived in the same building where I grew up and am now living.
I’ve known Joni all my life. She lived in the same building where I grew up and am now living.

Judy & Joni 1
This picture was taken after the crew finished the filming at my home.

The big day arrived and it was such a magical experience; I felt so important! Of course, it passed really quickly and was very much like being Cinderella. Sharing it with my friend, Joni was such a special memory.

I was able to get a picture of the film crew just before they left.
I was able to get a picture of the film crew just before they left.

I end my post with a transcript of my conversation about the filming experience with Hannah, my vocal coach.

Click the blue link below to hear audio:

Blog excerpt 6-30-16 – Judy discussing film shoot with Hannah

Hannah: Go!

Judy: Well I’m back to earth, I’m Cinderella – Now I’m back to being my usual!

Hannah: I experience that on a regular basis.

Judy: Do you? That must be part of what it is – especially with the whole make up thing and the audience sees you as somebody you’re not, somebody else. I had a hive outbreak this morning so I’m itching, damn. That part is hard.

Hannah: I know . . .

Judy: It was wonderful and exhausting. They showed up to start the whole thing at 7 a.m. It was very interesting because I knew it was about dry eyes but they were really focused on my music. To me that’s the best thing in the world!

I went in my closet and dug out all my old artwork and I put it all on a table. I thought I’d make it look like I’m working on something. I took out my paints and made this whole display. And they said, “We’re not interested in your artwork. We just want the story to be how music helped to heal you!”

Hannah: That’s great!

Judy: It was great. They started off with saying, “Where’s your guitar case – the dusty old one? We want to reenact how you started playing guitar again. Let’s put it back in the closet and have you walk over, pull it out and look like you’re playing again – and it hurts.”

I had to be like a little actress!

Hannah: How awesome!

Judy: It was so awesome.

Hannah: Was it fun?

Judy: It was fun! It was fun watching them take interesting angles of my guitar. It was like having your baby photographed. We want more of this guitar and I’m like, “Okay!”

And then my friend, Joni, came over and they had us talk and walk across the street, while following us. People were jogging by and looking at this camera crew following my friend and I thought, “Oh, my God – who am I?”

Hannah: I love it!

Judy: I did love it! I mean the harder part was that it was hot and when I got back it was time for the interview using my brainpower. There were lots of questions – they didn’t really guide me; they gave me a list.

I’d be talking away and think, Oh, I’d better look down at my list and then try to make it sound natural. My friend would say, “Judy, when did your eye problems begin?” She was going from her list. And I’d say, “My eye problems began . . .”

So I talked a lot. I think after a while I started to repeat myself. What gets me is that all this footage and recordings are going to be reduced to 10 minutes and they took 90 minutes of speaking and 6 hours of video.

It was nice when they left that I was able to rest. I got up and wrote to a friend and said, “I’m in a show tonight and I know I could have my hair and makeup done professionally, but I don’t know . . .”

She said, “GO! Do it!!”

Hannah: Yeah! I’m so glad you did; you looked so pretty!

Judy: Really?

Hannah: Yes!

Judy: It was so strange – my hair was all poufy and when I got there, I could see the mascara was all over. I was weepy and my eyes water a lot, so I kept wiping and worrying. But it was great to be somebody else for a day.

Hannah: Yeah!

Judy: And you know what? Now I’ve got to share; it was my best performance. I know there’s no perfection and I had one stumble with my lyrics. But honestly, my voice – what a change! I can’t say enough about how that conversational approach worked. I got all the high notes and I got all the low notes, so what more could I want? It was probably one of my best performances ever.

Hannah: I’m so glad!

Judy: Thank you!

Hannah: Yay! That’s very exciting! Good, so when will they have all that edited and put together for you?

Judy: In a month.

Hannah: Okay, that’s not long.

Judy: That’s what they told me; I don’t know. They want me to send them some of my instrumental stuff and things they might put in the background. I mean that would be really cool if they can use my music in it.

Hannah: Absolutely!

Judy: Yeah. I don’t want to be let down by things they might omit or put in that could be misconstrued; when things are edited, you don’t know. But I’ll hope for the best.

There were a lot of close-ups. Especially after my performance when my makeup was all smeared and I was hot.

But you know what’s interesting? All that dialog was about what I struggle with, but I don’t know that I had any scenes of what I go through – rubbing my eyes. I wore dark sunglasses outside, but they kept saying, “Now we want you to look serious.” (Judy laughing) I’m trying!

But when they said I could smile, I felt like a light bulb. So I think it will be very inspirational to see my smile.

Hannah: Good! Yay!

Judy: Yay!

Judy & Joni outside Kulak's 2 pictures Judy made up

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#35 MY SECOND THERMOFLO TREATMENT

A setback won’t put me back where I started, although sometimes it feels that way.

The nurse administering my treatment was a kind and caring woman. She had me lie down. As she started the machine, she put on soft meditation music and I told her it was lovely. She replied, “Oh, thank you! I searched it up and decided to put it on whenever I do these treatments – it helps to relax me, too!”

Today there would be no Beta-dyne brushed on first to irritate my eyes. I closed my eyes as she squeezed out a cool gel over them. The machine began to hum. I could have been in a dentist’s chair, but instead I was having my eyelids brushed.

She said, “After four minutes I am going to press harder. It shouldn’t hurt – but I am trying to express the oils thoroughly that way.”

I asked her if she would see the oil being released. She explained that it showed up as a cloudy yellowish color. The clear gel changed as the oil mixed into it. At the end she actually showed it to me and I took a picture.

She told me that she had time to research some of my questions. One of them was how this differed from Lipoflow. She said that Lipiflow was more invasive; that it required anesthetizing the eye and having a barrier lens put on as protection during the treatment. I didn’t know that.

My HMO did not yet commit to buy this $23,000 machine. I was one of 14 test subjects. Other than me, only one other person did not report relief after treatment. But I was hopeful that this second treatment would be different without using the Beta-dyne that possibly irritated my eyes the last time.

In two weeks, I had a third treatment scheduled. It would follow a visit with my dry eye doctor.

For 30 minutes the nurse chatted while she massaged my eyelids. When she applied more pressure, it didn’t hurt – but it wasn’t that pleasant. Finally, she was done. I sat up slowly and opened my eyes.

Her stories of people gasping with clearer vision didn’t uplift me. I blinked and the residual gel made my eyes blurry. I knew it took time for that to clear.

I thanked that sweet nurse with a hug and promised I’d let her know later in the day how my eyes felt.

The afternoon wore on and I didn’t feel anything remarkable. In fact, my eyes felt slightly sore. I tried to push that thought aside. By evening there was no doubt; my eyes were terribly irritated.

The feeling was familiar – discouragement and spiraling depression. A remedy offered hope and relief. A failed remedy set me way back. The fallout of pain left me thinking that there was little else left to try.

Why couldn’t I have been one of those lucky patients who found relief?

That question was one I didn’t want to ask. But it kept shouting in my head.

I promised the nurse I would let her know how I was doing. I typed out a message and she sent me a reply to follow.

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A setback won’t put me back where I started, although sometimes it feels that way.

Even though I feel knocked down, I’m not going to give up my hope. I’ve already traveled farther away from the pain of when this awful condition began. A setback won’t put me back where I started, although sometimes it feels that way.

Gel for Miboflow Closeup Gel

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#34 THE ALLERGY DOCTOR

In February, an outside doctor told me that my inflamed eyelids were a result of an allergy.

With my eye condition, I have found that it takes time to reflect and figure out what to do next. Like any journey, sometimes I will just camp out for a while and stay right where I am.

I know that moving forward at some point is still important. I want to stay hopeful about finding a place where my eyes aren’t at the forefront of my mind because of the discomfort.

In February, an outside doctor told me that my inflamed eyelids were a result of an allergy. From that point forward, he had little advice for me. For three months, I wondered what to do with that information other than stop all of my regimens.

When I was able to get the exact steroid drop from my regular doctor – the one that seemed to make a difference (Durezol), I was disappointed. My eyes didn’t feel wonderful like they did when I had used it three months earlier. Overall, they were still better, though.

I made a connection. Perhaps it wasn’t the steroid eye drop that helped. Instead, just stopping the regimen of eyelid wipes, artificial tears and compresses made the difference. Those very things were the irritants, and that was why I found relief.

I did ask my regular doctor for an appointment for allergy testing. I waited two months for an appointment. I contacted him to find out why it was taking so long and it turned out that he had simply ordered blood tests. The next day I had my blood drawn. He told me if I wanted to see an allergy specialist, it was a self-referral.

All of the results were normal. I was glad, but it gave me no answers. I called to make an appointment with an allergy doctor. There was a cancellation and I scheduled an appointment for the next day.

When I met the allergy doctor, he seemed kind and thoughtful. I told him my reasons for exploring an allergy were due to my irritated eyelids. I mentioned that I also had an outbreak of hives recently.

He prescribed an allergy eye drop (Olopatadine). It was safer than using a steroid drop. I had concerns, though, because I heard that it could dry my eye out even more.

Then this doctor ordered much more involved blood tests. He didn’t think scratch testing would yield as much information. He said he wanted to cover a lot of possible dust mite allergies. And he wanted to retest me for Sjogren’s, even though I was negative two years earlier. It seemed like my issues could be autoimmune.

Only a few days before, I ordered special pillowcases that were dust-mite proof. I decided I would get the mattress cover once the tests came back.

This new road I am following perhaps will lead me to some relief. I will share more once I get results.

© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#33 I WENT WITH THE THERMOFLO

The whole experience was filled with hope. I needed hope badly and couldn’t believe the timing.

Everything was harder when my eyes were bothering me. I was having one of those mornings where I felt so down. I wanted to be productive, but it was impossible because I couldn’t really open my eyes.

I was still scratching a few scabby hives and decided to use the steroid drop because I desperately wanted my eyes to feel better. I wasn’t really sure that those eye drops had caused my itching problem.

When my phone rang, I was surprised – it was a nurse who worked with my dry eye doctor. I had forgotten that at my last appointment, my doctor mentioned a trial study with a new machine. It was non invasive and free. I told her I was definitely interested.

The nurse explained that the test procedure involved three treatments over a period of one month. She wondered if I was available that day or the next. I couldn’t believe it; it was the perfect thing for me to do on a day where I felt miserable. I told her I was more than ready. In only a few hours I might find some relief. There was nothing better than having hope again.

I hung up the phone and the first thing I wanted to do was share about it on my dry eye support group site. Within a few minutes, there were a dozen messages of encouragement. I was so touched and felt excited because perhaps this might help others once I shared about it.

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I arrived promptly for my 11:30 a.m. appointment. The nurse ushered me in sweetly. I didn’t have to sign any papers or pay anything at all. I felt like a celebrity almost.

It was explained to me that I only needed to lie back and relax. My eyelids were going to be massaged with a tool that reached 108 degrees; the oil in my clogged meibomium glands would be softened and released. I closed my eyes; Beta-dyne was dabbed on first, followed by a thick gel. The machine looked like an electric toothbrush with space for my eyelashes.

IMG_1731 cropped closer IMG_1736 cropped closer

 

 

The nurse explained that the Beta-dyne did bother some of the other prior patients. It was used to counter any bacteria that might be released from the glands.

 

She said there were 14 patients in the study. Only one person reported that the treatment did nothing while the others found great improvement with dry eyes and even their vision.

 

The whole experience was filled with hope. I needed hope badly and couldn’t believe the timing. I asked the nurse if it were possible for someone to take a picture. I explained that my dry eye support group was eager to hear about this.

The nurse was more than willing. She gave permission for lots of pictures and suggested I could even scan the brochure she had for me.

Mibo Brochure 1 Miboflo brochure 3 panels

A timer went off after about 15 minutes. She switched to my other eye.

As she massaged my eyelids, she talked about many things related to dry eyes. I heard her mention the name of my cataract surgeon and felt myself flinch.

I was more than frustrated when I developed this condition after my surgery. I felt my surgeon was “done with me” and upset that he wasn’t more compassionate. But now, I heard that this surgeon suffered so much from Meibomium Gland Disease that he walked around the clinic with a microwaved potato wrapped in a paper towel over his eyes. That piece of information alone was very ironic for me.

It was time for me to sit up and blink. The room was blurry because of the gel. The nurse said that it would go away soon. She asked me how I felt. I didn’t know what to say – I wasn’t really sure. I wanted to say I felt fabulous, but it wasn’t the case. I felt a sting and mentioned it.

She said, “That’s probably from the Beta-dyne. Next time we don’t plan to use it. It bothered a lot of other patients but to be consistent in the study – I had to use it on you for the first treatment.”

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t believe how many wonderful comments were written on my dry eye post. I wrote back to everyone, but I had to be honest – I was a bit disappointed. My eyes were still bothering me.

However, I still had two more treatments – it was too soon to give up hope.

The next day, my eyes worsened. Now I had to consider that the treatment irritated them. It was very disappointing.

The nurse who performed the procedure sent me a message asking how I was doing. I was honest. She wrote back: “I am so sorry that you did not get relief. Thank you for not giving up. I hope that we have better luck at next week’s appointment.”

All of the messages from my support group helped me very much. I learned that another woman with dry eyes had an allergy problem with her eyelids similar to mine. She had discovered that her allergen was dust mites. I wondered if that could be my problem. It was definitely another avenue to investigate.

One member told me that she was pulling for me and wanted a link to this  blog. My dry eye blog was simply a place where I could vent about my eye problems. It was therapy for me to freely share and complain.

Later on she wrote this to me:

“Judy, I just read most of this at work! It’s beautiful! My eyes definitely got tears at times. I’m going to go light a candle for you tonight.”

If she only knew how many tears her words brought me.

IMG_1731 cropped Light a candle post© Judy Unger and http://dryeyediaries@wordpress.com 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.