View Full Version : Need tips for dry eyes while at college!
I know many people on this site didnít have dry eye problems till long after college, but I know we suffer from atleast somewhat similar symptoms. I would like some advice for how to deal w/ my problems when I go to college in a few weeks. I think Iím looking for more of psychological advice then general dry-eye advice. This post is pretty long, but I would really appreciate it if yíall could read it and give me some good feedback.
I would be very excited about college except that my dry eye problems have really been bad the past few days, which has really made me realize how hard the next few years might be for me. Iím going to be staying in a dorm w/ central air conditioning/heating and know that my worst dry eye days are yet to come. My eye specialist has ordered some panoptx for me to sleep in if I need to, but the size I need is backordered and it may be a couple more months.
My senior year was really bad for me because of my dry eyes. I had to quit a couple extracurricular activities because I hurt so bad. After school, all I wanted to do was go home and rest my eyes, although I did try to tough it up as much as I could, and did as much as possible. I know in college Iím going to have harder, longer classes, more studying, and a few all-nighters. Iím scared how Iím going to be able to deal w/ it if my eyes are really bad. I'm also afraid I'm not going to be able to do fun stuff late at night w/ others because I'll be hurting too much. Along w/ my dry eye pain getting much worse during my senior year, I had problems w/ increased eye redness, too. Iím very self conscious about this, and honestly, I think Iíd be able to deal w/ the pain better if my problems were unseen. I can also no longer really wear eye makeup, except on rare occasions (because it really irritates my eyes) and it makes me feel very ďnakedĒ compared to other girls my age. The problems I had w/ the increased redness, swelling, etc., REALLY made me see who my real friends were last year. Unfortunately, I learned that many of them were pretty shallow, including my best friend. To make a long story short, I lost some good relationships. I do still have a few great friends who are able to look past my appearance and see me based on whatís on the inside, though. Iím afraid making friends in college might be kind of difficult, since everything does seem to be based on appearances at my age. I used to be confident, but now I'm a lot more self conscious and I'm having to learn confidence all over again. I donít want to seem unapproachable because of my eye problems and I donít want people to look at me and automatically assume that I am just some really unhealthy kid or some druggie. My roommate and I have never met before, and I'm afraid she might not know what to think about my problems w/ dry eye. I don't want to make her uncomfortable by the fact that I have to use drops frequently, use drops that are "unusual" to non-dry eye patients (restasis, serum drops), and that I might have to sleep w/ panoptx. In the past, I've always been able to take drops in the privacy of my home or in a bathroom, so this will be completely new for me.
If y'all were in my shoes, how would y'all approach the upcoming year? Should I just try to ignore the dry eye pain all together and live like a typical college kid? Or do I need to be taking good care of my eyes, even if it means missing out on some stuff that I wouldnít otherwise? I don't want my eye problems to get worse, but I also don't want to miss out on what could be a great year. Should I try to be as outgoing as possible, even if it means hearing some nasty comments from others my age, that don't know the real me yet? Should I try to just ignore their comments or should I be direct to them? I'm really sensitive when people mention the appearance of my eyes, but I don't just want to shut myself out from the world. Do people become more mature and learn to focus on more that just outside appearances as they get older? Anyways, it would be great if I could hear back from a few people of any advice y'all have.
I'm so sorry this is happening when you're starting college.... trying to figure out how to cope practically and trying to anticipate others reactions at a highly social time of life, ouch.
I wonder if there's a way to turn this on its head - go on the offensive, so to speak?
Start up a support group for dry eye patients. (Believe me you'll find others.)
Join the paper staff and write a little column about eye health for college kids.
Get several pairs of really slick looking wraparound glasses or sunglasses (eg panoptx, wiley-x or whatever) and start a new eye-health-conscious fashion trend.
Not necessarily great examples in themselves but you get the idea. If you can do something that leaves you feeling in control rather than simply trying to react to everything happening to you, it can be very empowering.
Hi Amy, I can see you've given some thought to what it's going to be like dealing with dry eyes. Of course you feel "naked" because you can't wear eye make-up. Possibly anything we say will sound trite and condescending, but I hope not.
After high school with all the cliques, you are in a whole other atmosphere. If you were incredibly popular in high school, this isn't automatically the case in college. Your room-mate will be as anxious as you about the unknown.
First, you must take care of yourself physically. Lots of kids take medicine such as asthma inhalers, diabetic injections, physical disabilities that may or not be visible. Your friends will soon quickly pick up on your eye problems. Try not to make a big deal of it. When you need to do drops, just do it. Your explanation is......"I have dry eyes or I don't have enough tears..
You may not be able to party a lot like the others. Your "shut-eye" time will be very important. Also, you will have time between classes and a different schedule every day to make time for your compresses. In high school, you have 7 or so hours of straight classes. You won't be sleeping in Panoptyx most likely. It's likely you may need a sleep mask made of cloth, but sleeping in $100+ Panoptyx goggles would not be feasible.
Don't try and hide it. If you can be discreet, that's fine, but if not just go ahead with your drops. You'll find your way, Amy. Most kids are in the same situation as you.....everything is new. One thing that may be helpful is that you'll not have a lot of time on your hands and this can at times be helpful in getting your mind off your problem for a bit. Good luck.......Remember you have this bb to come to for support!
PS. I just thought of something. There are so many commercials on tv now for Restasis and lots of other dry eye drops that most people will be familiar with the "dry eye thing."
mary kenny badami
Hi, Amy --
Guess what I do for a living -- I'm a college professor! I agree with every single thing that Rebecca and Lucy have suggested. (Lucy didn't say it in her post, but until retiring a few months ago, she worked for many years on a college campus).
There's a big range of appearance among my students when they are on-campus and in classes as far as clothing, hairstyles, and makeup (admittedly, I can't say what's going on in the parties or on the weekends). My students tell me that there is some peer pressure at college, but a lot less than in high school.
There are students in my classes who, right in the middle of a lesson, grab a bottle out of their purse or pocket or backpack and put eyedrops in their eyes, yes, right in front of me and their classmates. I've not noticed anybody fussing about it, no more than we would fuss if somebody covered their mouth when they sneezed, or pulled out a tissue to blow their nose.
Some students choose to inform me at the start of the semester that they may need to leave class briefly to take medicine, and at my college most professors have no problem if students take a quick break, not even in the middle of a lesson, as long as they are not disruptive.
You would be surprised at how many students are doing their best to look like everybody else when coping with diseases including diabetes, migraines, depression, "female problems," and asthma. I tell you this because I am surprised every semester at how many students disclose to me what I have sometimes called "secret ailments" -- that is, real medical problems, hard for them to cope with, but not visible to anybody else.
I vote for taking very, very good care of your eyes.
I vote for finding a one-sentence way of looking at people directly and saying in a firm voice something like, "I have very sensitive eyes and I need to use these eyedrops regularly."
I vote for finding a one-sentence way of saying something like, "My eyes are red because they are very sensitive; it's called dry eye syndrome and many people have it."
I vote for starting your own fashion statement by finding goggles and eyewear which are fun to wear and distinctive.
Please let us know how things work out for you, and don't hesitate to e-mail me if you have questions or want to share ideas.
< er, that's "Doctor Mary" if you turn out to be one of my students :) >
I am going to be a senior in college, and completely understand your anxiety about what college is going to be like. Just like everyone has said so far, you are what you are, and if you have dry eyes and need eye drops it wont matter to anyone. Whenever I pull out eye drops to use, most of my friends are curious and then just accept that I have to do that. If you need someone to talk to who is in a similar situation, just ask any question you have.
by the way, i play football which makes it all the more interesting and hard to deal with.
I am so disappointed to know of so many young people on this bb with issues such as yours. It's so unfair.
First off, let me tell you what pleasantly surprised me once I got to college...
I came from a high school life in a very small town. Then I moved to an even smaller town to finish out my jr. and sr. years. I opted to go to the biggest university within a reasonable range (30,000 students) because I was tired of all the "smallness". Naturally, I was a bit overwhelmed with the size but I got used to it quick.
The absolute most amazing thing to me was the simple fact that there were so darned many people all over the place, that nobody really gave a "shat" what I was doing or wearing or anything. I think I could've gone to class in my pajamas and most would've looked right through me.
There really is a huge difference between the "critical" members of a high school and the amazing mix of people you'll meet in college. Trust me on this. You'll meet ALL kinds.
I can no longer wear eye makeup and I know what you mean by feeling "naked". Still, in my dorm the girl next door wore way too much of it, my roommate didn't wear any...the girl across the hall flunked out so fast I never got the chance to notice what she wore.
I know you have a lot on your mind right now and I can understand. When I was leaving for school I was excited, but I was a wreck. I didn't have any physical concerns as you do.
You do the best you can with those eyes of yours. You and your roommate will either click or you won't. Eyes will likely not be the issue in any case. Either way, there will be plenty of other new gals in your life and you can opt to room with them next semester. Who knows, maybe someone will have dry skin and will love the idea of a giant humidifier in a little tiny room.
Regarding the studying...
A fellow dry-eye friend of mine is also a college professor. She has had her textbooks converted to tape through an organization...I just can't remember the name of it. I'll find out for you and post it. It sounds a little extreme maybe, but perhaps it could be necessary for a class now and again. Math classes might be easier on the eyes than an English lit. class, for example.
Does your university have an optometry school? If it does, you might develop a relationship with them. Perhaps you'll be able to take part in some studies or be privvy to new techniques in dry-eye comfort. I did just this in my college years, but it was in an effort to get back into contacts after years of intolerance.
And as far as all-nighters...
I'm a procrastinator and only did one all-nighter in four years. It was horrible, wouldn't want to relive it.
So, you just be yourself, Amy. Take care of those eyes and find comfortable ways of being social. I guess that's kinda what I do now. I don't stay out as late, I wear goggles outside and I simply do the best I can. You'll meet the best people of your life in college and they'll be people who will love you as you are.
My freshman year college friends were/are among the most open, welcoming people I have ever met. It's a wonderful age group. My mother (a generation before me) and my son ( a generation after me) say the same thing. Our most enduring friendships have been made at a time when we were feeling the most vulnerable - freshman year. Noone arrives for their first year of college as a 'perfect package'. You will be surprised at how many of your new friends will have problems they are reluctant to talk about but will be relieved when they can talk about whatever it is and be accepted.
My older son has an eye disease (Stargardt's) where he has no central vision. He has only peripheral vision. He can't drive and has to ride the bus or hitch a ride to get around. I worried my brains out when he went to college. He never accepts help and rarely talks about his disability. He makes me crazy. He doesn't want to be seen as 'different'. It didn't take long for his new friends on campus to figure out that something wasn't right. Once they realized what was going on with him they did whatever they could to help him and include him in their activities. One of his friends rearranged his room so that there was a comfortable chair positioned inches away from the TV so that when they watched TV, my son could see it. College kids for the most part are compassionate and thoughtful.
I would bet that your dry eye problems will be understood when you choose to share them. Based on my son's recent college experience...your new friends will be very supportive of whatever it takes for you to be comfortable and to be a part of the whole college scene.
When you live with people in dormrooms and see them night and day, you'll find a lot of people with a lot of different issues that might be worse than yours. From people who smell bad, people who snore, people who have to take anxiety pills, people who freak out, people who smoke too much weed, drink too much, etc.
Couple of things you'll have to look out for, and this is from my personal experience while in college with dry/allergy eyes.
- Definitely get yourself a good humidifer/purifier, cause dorm rooms tend to be pretty dry/dirty.
- Not sure if you can control this, but try to get a roommate who doesn't smoke. If their family lives near the school, and they have pets at their parents house, sometimes they tend to bring animal dander back with them (or in the laundry they wash at home).
- Try not to schedule classes all day long, spread them out so you can take breaks in between to rest your eyes or treat them. You can find empty classrooms where you can rest between classes or head over to the library to relax in a quiet environment.
- Don't worry about using drops in the middle of class (this works best in large lecture classes). I've seen people pull out a pharmacy from their backpacks and start popping pills like nobody's business. I've seen people pull out full meals from their bags and eat it in front of everyone. I've also seen people flat out fall asleep in class.
- One word. Naps. Naps are a staple to all college students. I would always nap before going out for the night, that always helped my eyes out. God i miss naps in the middle of the day.
Overall, relax, and enjoy college. You're going to love it!
Oh yeah, and get yourself some good earplugs so you can catch those naps when you want them and so you can get to sleep at a decent hour. Dorms are not a great place for early birds.
thanks so much for the tips so far! My roommate doesn't smoke, so that will probably help, and I'll be sure to get earplugs. Does anyone know of a brand of earplugs that work really good? My MWF classes start pretty early in the morning and are scattered throughout the day till six, so that will be kinda hard, but I will be sure to try and take naps. TTH classes don't start till like 11 'oclock and end really early in the afternoon so that should be pretty good. And as for the friends thing, from what y'all are saying, i should be able to find some people who will just accept me for who I am.
Oh, and one more thing I'm understanding from your posts. It really seems like y'all are saying I should just do whatever it takes to keep taking good care of my eyes. More tips would be great, please! :D
Trying ear plugs is trial and error. You might want to shop at a local store and buy several kinds and try them out before you leave for school. I like the kind they use in noisy machine shops. They are spongy. You'll need a supply as they changing frequently. You should not pay a lot for these. After all, they are just disposable ear plugs. I try to remember to take mine with me to NASCAR, concerts, etc. I also use them at night especially when I'm away from home.
I don't know the extend of all the services offered by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, but a friend of mine has used this organization to have her text books recorded for her. She is suffering the debilitating effects of LASIK gone bad, and still works as a college professor.
It may be something to consider for the occasional class/textbook that you just cannot manage with your eyes. I would hope that it didn't come to this, but it's nice to have the option...
I suggest letting each of your instructors know your condition prior to the class/ or the first day of class. You may need to close your eyes during a lecture and you don't want him/her to think you're sleeping or bored. Or you may need to wear some sunglasses with foam around them during class (if you don't need an RX, try Harley Davidson, that's where I get mine).
It's ok to let people know you have issues with your eyes and you need special treatments to cope.
It's hard being the one with a problem, we all understand. You may need to find some support group/therapy at college.
My first semester at College was awful and I wanted to go home, but I stuck with it the first year and made some good friends who are still my friends today.
Good luck, keep in touch
thanks again everyone for all the input! I will definately keep all this advice in mind while I'm at college. I just try to keep reminding myself that even if i find dry eye frustrating for now, everything happens for a reason. :)
:D Hi Amy,
Luckily for me while I was at Uni my dry eyes weren't too bad then. Never worry about putting drops in while you are out in public. I put drops in any old time, I don't care where I am or who I am with and noone minds, everynow and then someone will take a second look but thats about it. Ads someone has already said, there are some stranger people out there you can bet your life on that!
I fully understand re the embarrassement of having red eyes, I am like you and can't wear eye makeup, so have red, puffy eyelids and red eyes. I have older ladies asking me why I have been crying and is there anything they can do, I have been accused of smoking dope, injecting in my eyes you name it! But people are usaully just concerned, and its nice to know people care.
I would definitely avoid smoke, that makes my eyes ten times worse, get plenty of sleep and have fun, which I am sure you will. I had a look at your profile and you mention sjogrens syndrome, I have that. Do you have problems with dry mouth/arthritis?
Anyway good luck, you will have fun, keep us posted!!
Do keep us posted on your progress at school. We're not jealous of your dry eye condition at this phase of your life, but the college years are wondeful memories - at least for me. If you need us, let us know...
well, college is less than a week away for me now. Like I said before, I'll be sure and take all y'alls advice into consideration while I'm there. I'm going to a MASSIVE university, so I'm planning on trying to get to know people of similar interests by joining a couple clubs. Please pray that my eye problems don't cause me too much trouble while I'm away. I'm hoping I'll find some caring understanding friends, who'll accept me for me. I want to have the best time as remotely possible, and hopefully, the dry eye won't keep me from enjoying myself. I've always believed though that God doesn't give you more than you can handle.
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