Of tear-ible times…

Ever since I posted about my eye troubles in my new year post, I have not received a single question about it. So I am going to talk about it of my own accord. I know none of you care, BUT YOU MUST!

In the beginning of December, my contact lens started to get uncomfortable and I would be constantly blinking or trying to move my right contact around to make it sit better. I was washing my eyes all the time because there was this feeling that something is stuck in there. My eyes were drying out too like no tomorrow! That feeling of a foreign object being in my eye started growing into eye pain where keeping my lids open were really bothering me. I tried a couple of lubricating OTC drops, but there was no improvement.

Finally, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor, and I had to wait for 2 days, because legendary American healthcare system. I went in, got my eye prodded and poked at, dyed, rubbed vigorously with a Q-tip, but the doctor said there really wasn’t anything. She just asked me to continue with my OTC lubricant eye drops and discontinue contacts for some more time. She did give me an opthalmologist number, in case I didnt feel better in another week.

By the time that week ended, I was crying most evenings out of the pain. I would weep while driving to work, and bawled while driving back home, because the pain was becoming insufferable. My eyes are anyways too sensitive and the high prescription makes it even worse. I am pretty much blind without glasses or contacts and they do hinder my lifestyle in some way or the other. It’s a very sensitive subject for me, even if you leave the vanity part aside. My short sighted friends do agree that it definitely affects confidence and self-esteem. As shallow as that sounds, it is true.

Finally I took the eye doctor’s appointment and went in, another 2 days later. Meanwhile, my insurance decided to play games with me, and that very month increased specialist visit rates by $30. Again, legendary American healthcare.

The optometrist took a look at my eyes through a slit lamp and told me that my tears were evaporating as soon as they were forming, and my eyes were extremely dry as a result. The oil glands seemed to be underperforming majorly and she wrote down names of two more OTC eye lubricants. I noted that down, and asked if that would also make that foreign object feeling go away. She looked at me, and asked me to come back to the slit lamp. She flipped my lids over and declared that it was full of inflammation and bumps. She prescribed some anti-histamine eye drops and asked me to see her in another month and to not use contacts until then. She also asked me to heavily consider switching to disposable contacts in the near future. Holiday season, looking good, makeup, got flushed down the drain. I asked her about estimated recovery time and she gave me between a week to a month and said it was hard to say. Ugh, more bummage.

That evening after the doctor visit, I had to go to a shopping mall to finish some last minute holiday shopping. I think I bawled all the way to the mall and some more while I waited in my car at the parking lot. I spoke to my folks too, and there was a good deal of tears for around an hour. There was some more breakdown in a Banana Republic store, the classy chick that I am. I had had enough! My eyes were hurting like crazy, they were prickly, I had to continue looking dorky for holiday pictures, the drops were $200 and with insurance $80, and I had to handle all that sh*t by myself during that time. Meanwhile, I convinced myself that I am never going to get better and never be able to go back to contacts. I simply lost it.

I did calm down the next day and with a peaceful mind, started researching my condition and all my options. Turns out I have something along the lines of Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis(do not Google it!) which affects most soft contact lens users. Steroid drops, anti-histamines and disposable contact lens help with the condition. You could be wearing contacts for years, and one fine day, your eyes decide to go rogue on you. Such betrayal! My doctor did not prescribe steroids yet, so maybe it’s a good thing? I did some more research and have managed to find a substitute OTC anti-histamine till my drops get to San Diego through someone. Meanwhile the prescribed drops just got into my hands me through a friend, from my father, because they cost a paltry $5 in India! Yep! The same brand, some composition, and it even says manufactured in the US and imported to India! Once again, all hail American healthcare.

I have used my new drops for 2 days, and my eyes are in pain again. Probably because I had skipped a day to switch from OTC to prescribed and the irritation had started again. I am sitting here annoyed by the pain and I know I am being dramatic, but I feel like my life has come to a standstill. I was happily prancing around in my contacts everyday, and had a nice thing going on. It’s all gone out of the window. I don’t want to constantly whine about it to the people who I spend time with, but the fact that I can CONSTANTLY FEEL MY EYEBALL AND EYELID is extremely annoying. So, hopefully this post takes care of the crying and the whining part.

Atleast I have learned to swiftly take my glasses off whenever someone wants to take a picture of me. I am getting used to going to the gym in glasses, even though it’s a real pain to run blindly on the treadmill or risk shattering expensive glasses if they fly off my nose. It’s not the end of the world, and there are bigger problems in my life. With time, and medication, hopefully I can get back to my contacts, and perhaps think of a permanent solution to the problem. Let’s see how it goes.

Hope you all have the answers to the questions that you did not ask. Thanks for letting me rant!

PS- I know you all do care about me. πŸ™‚ I promise, I was only joking when I accused you all of not asking anything, but the scolding seems to have brought all my old-timey favorites back! So yay! “My scolding brings all the bloggers to the yard…”

PPS- I had a follow-up on 1/21 and eyes are getting better but the bumps are still there. The doc prescribed new steroid drops to be used along with the anti-histamines and another visit which will include a prescription and new lens fitting exam. Post all my research about my condition, I had asked my dad to send another kind of drops with Pataday from India, just to be safe. Guess which one she prescribed? I am smart!

29 thoughts on “Of tear-ible times…

  1. Occam’s razor would suggest looking at the lens itself (the type and brand, I mean). Also, one other insight – you are not the only sufferer this year. A lot of lens users have had troubles with their lenses this year. One other suspect would be the lens solution itself.
    My wife had a problem of the kind you are describing, for the last six months. Then in the past month she got another brand of disposable lens and different solution, seems to be alright so far.
    Before you go Googling for symptoms and possible diagnoses, (most doctors hate that people google stuff. They are gods after all, why this blasphemy of forming your own opinion etc etc!), please do not look for the worst possible solution. One problem with automated solutions in diagnosis is that there are multiple symptoms and indicators that would fit the case and usually the worst and most frightful diagnosis turns up on top.
    In this case, your doctor was possibly wise in prescribing the anti-histamines, although I’d not think that was a solution at all. In fact, in principle, I am against any kind of immune suppression of any sort, unless your life or quality of life is threatened. Also, I hesitate to present opinions these days and while I did read about it in your last post, I did not wish to barge in. Look for the simplest cause – the lens solution. It often has de-proteinizers that can badly affect the surface of the lens. Have you changed your brand or product in the preceding months? That would be my most likely suspect. And if that is the cause, then all you have to do is wait until the effects of usage have disappeared, which means, I am afraid a waiting period of a month or two with glasses. Sorry.
    And apologies for not asking. I am not very active online now and I get your posts in my mail. Saw this and responded. Take care.

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    • Thank you for such a detailed reply! Truly appreciate it. I have only been using my Indian prescribed annual contacts, and I had changed in September but I switched in January to another new pair to avoid issues. I only wore them for a few hours on New Year’s Eve since the diagnosis. I have been using Biotru for years now. Although I do think I became lazy and did not follow all cleaning protocols like switching solution each time and rinsing after removing. I suspect the protein buildup caused the bumps. Is it possible? Also, you seem to know quite a bit. πŸ™‚ I am currently using Pataday (prescribed here, bought from India), and the OTC that I had picked up in a pinch was Alaway. Any thoughts?

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      • Ah, there you go. Change from annual to monthly. But I thought you said Biotrue, are you using the daily contacts? Yeah, please use the monthly versions, not the annual. Like I said, no matter what caused the problem, the healing will take time and it is possible that the lens solution is faulty. With all the ills of the American healthcare system, there is also an insane law of torts. Enough number of complaints and it could be cause for class action. Too many of these problems, as I said, in the last one year alone. And Patanol/Pataday and Alaway is always a debate. The Alaway probably gives you some discomfort and a stinging feeling on use. Just a matter of comfort, nothing else. If you wish to continue with Pataday, just as well.
        Let me hazard another route, however. I suspect you may have something to do with IT or watching a screen all day long. I am suggesting this as a gharelu nushke (like the old grandmother I am turning into, haha).. If you spend long hours watching a screen, then make sure you make a habit of turning away from the screen, focusing on a distant object and then rapidly blinking for 30 seconds. It might sound crazy or look slightly eccentric, but it would help save your eyes. I never listened to medical opinion in my life and now I regret it. But then I have had a long rope, much longer than the rest of you, I started off with the computer insanity around 32 years ago. So there. However, this little exercise could help you a lot. Blink as often as possible. Every ten to fifteen minutes take a break. And heed this advice, because not only do I have spinal stenosis, but my asinine insistence on working in computers has cost me my mobility as well. Not to mention my proud eyesight that is finally failing me as well. So whatever it is that your job entails, always take a break to stretch your legs and arms, make sure your eyes get rest too. I talk too much, as always. Sorry.

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        • Yes! I am a mechanical engineer who works on computers all day for analysis! I really, really need to follow these guidelines to protect my eyes. There is a window behind me that throws a glare on the screen and I am going to order black out curtains for that window. You are so right about that!
          Alaway stings only for a second it did help in the days I used it. Was trying to save money. 😦
          By biotrue, I meant the contact lens solution, the one in a clear bottle. I also have dry eyes usually so I have read it’s helpful for that.
          Definitely considering making the switch to monthly disposables. I think Costco is more cost effective. Dailies will be prohibitively expensive for me unfortunately.
          Again, thank you for the amazing explanation. I already feel hopeful and better. I was having a terrible day because of the general hopelessness and the irritation.

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          • Ah, the evergreen Royal Mech. The best branch ever. I guess this somewhat feels like the years in college, if you had foundry and welding at all. The same sort of eye burn and itching and redness. I spent all my time in the mech dept or the civil dept. In fact, I was better with the central lathes than the mech students. I love the branch. I guess you are into FE analysis. Used to do that many years ago, Ansys, Fluent, Solidworks and so on. (Private research, not company stuff.. mostly on the Stirling engine tech, and like a fool I invented the wheel from scratch, until I found out that people had already made that years ago.. ha.. still, it was a good learning process mostly fluid dynamics and Tesla turbines and stuff… )
            Yes, by all means, go for the monthly ones. WIll help, for sure. Also, eye dryness can be congenital, worsens with age. Try the blinking exercise every few minutes.
            Er… may I suggest something else from totally off left field? Another big reason for eye irritation or redness would be dandruff from the brows. Believe me, it happens more often than you’d believe. See if there are flakes when you scratch your brows, it almost always causes red eyes and itching. If so, then use aloe vera, or coconut oil, on your brows, insane as it may sound. Or if you need a medical option then there is a lotion called Olesoft, use sparingly, but it is a wonderful moisturizer. See if that happens to be the cause. Cheers. Take care. Happy Mech-ing around πŸ˜€

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            • I do have dandruff but it’s not on my brows. I just checked. Lol. I did have dry skin there sometimes and I used to put coconut oil. San Diego is very dry and it does affect me. I am definitely going to go for monthly as soon as this gets resolved. Thank!
              Mech is definitely fun! So many memories with the lathe machines. I am proud that I used to do all the turning, grinding and welding by myself. Never asked for help! Haha! I do use Ansys. I am a CFD engineer. πŸ™‚

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  2. Oh no! That sounds painful. I feel pain. I am pretty much blind without glasses myself. But I have a fear of wearing lenses…long story. Like you, I just take my glasses off for pics. Of course, that leaves me looking in a different direction than the others in the pic. Expert tip: remove your glasses only for solo pics. πŸ˜€ Feel better soon. I’ll leave comments on all your eye trouble related posts. We are a glass-wearing family and at least one of us has some eye issue several times a year, so I can physically almost feel your pain. Feel better soon.

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  3. So many things I want to say, having difficulty putting my thoughts together. Because really huge myopic chashme ka number, lenses since more than 10 years and so on!! I can relate to a lot, except, thank God, I have never had unbearable pain related problems so far! But there have been other issues,so here it goes, my mixed up thoughts but put in an orderly fashion :

    1. Any specific reason you use annual ones till now? I think you have also been using lenses since long, so would want to know why you never made the switch to monthly, or, even daily ones.

    2. I have faced this allergy thing over the years many times, where a pimple/acne sort of thing pops up in my eye. It irritates the eye a lot and a little painful, but not like super painful. Even if i dont do anything about it, it might go away in a week or so, because, in the end, its a pimple. However, I usually start some medication or gharelu thing immediately because the longer it stays, the longer I’ll have to be out and about in chashma. And, let’s just say I do not even look dorky in a cute way, it alters my face totally in a bad way. Also, when I moved to Europe, I forgot to carry the drops for this allergy and as soon as I reached there, I got reminded of that and I was a bit worried what if this allergy occurs multiple times. Because right before my move, it had occured in a very bad way, so much so that the doctor had to prick it with a needle *in my eye*. But, but, in the entire 10-11 months in Europe, I never faced this issue. And the moment I landed in Delhi, it happened. So, it could be related to pollution? Explore all your sources of irritants – kajal, mascara, dust etc.

    3. My parents have been asking me to get laser done since a long time and I am simply not ready for it mentally. It might make my life 10000 times easier but I don’t know. I think its because I am fattu but considering you are badass and you haven’t got it done either, may I know some better reasons than my own?

    Also, don’t worry about the glasses too much, because I know you can very well pull it off. πŸ™‚ Just take care πŸ™‚

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    • First of all, my glasses are soda glasses, and they are FAAAARRRR from nerdy cute. They are grandma glasses. Haha
      1. So ever since I started contacts, I just have been picking up what my doctor in India prescribed. She got me started on annuals, so I continued. Plus, it was easier to bring just one pack over to USA. So convenient and cheaper. And I didnt question her foolishly. But the switch is inevitable now.
      2. Do you mean styes by any chance? Maybe you get a worse version of them. I do get that sometimes but they go away in a day or two. Yes, kajal residue seems to affect those. And as soon as I read your comment, I tossed my mascara tube into the trash. I buy only travel sizes or get samples of mascara because they last less than 6 months with my occasional use. So, safer generally.
      3. Yes, I am considering lasik now, but I am most likely not a candidate for that kind because of a high prescription. But I will go within the next two months and find out more properly. I have been heldback because it’s very expensive here. I considered getting it done in India but then post-op care would get difficult if there are complications. So, will bite the bullet here only if I am a candidate. The first thing I wanna do after, is cliff jumping!
      You take care, too, and keep writing! Hugs!

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      • Dude, I feel you can still get done in India , God forbid if something really happens you can always travel to India. Though factor in that cost as well ki if it ends up being similar priced in US if that happens. Then, might as well.

        Don’t know what is styes. But I’ll look it up.

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  4. aata raatrichya sahaaakhra vaazle… or something like that and then.. jeev daya netra prabha apni aankhon mein lagaayiye.. Yeah, that should help :P… colaba ka taapmaan and then shubh raatri… Oh dear, Vividh Bharati…

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  5. Heyy!! Take care.. As someone wearing glasses since childhood I understand what you mean when you say that you are literally blind without them πŸ™‚ However have almost zero knowledge about lenses so cant comment much on it. Hope you get better soon.
    On a lighter note, regarding the previous post, was more curious about the major bucket list item checked off than the eye issue πŸ˜›

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  6. This is terrible!

    I am so sorry to learn that you’re going through such a painful phase. While I have zero understanding of the contact lenses, I think the idea of using the monthly contact lenses definitely sounds like a plan to go for.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to wait for the prescribed eyedrops and survive the holiday season with sore eyes.

    Hope you feel well super soon and that the prescribed eye drops work like a charm for you.
    Take care, PB!
    {{Hugs}}

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    • Yeah, figuring out the next course of action and hopefully eyes get better to actually chart out a plan. Fervently praying that the prognosis turns out favorable. Thank you, ME and hugs right back!

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  7. Pingback: Eye stories: My ICL experience… Part I | A splash of my life...

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