My response to a fellow student suffering from dry eye
I wrote this message to a fellow student suffering from dry eye but after writing it I wanted to share it with everyone to help others and also get some feedback from others as well. Here's how the conversation went:
Student messaging me:
"Fellow student with severe dry eye
Hi mate,hows it going?
I read there that u are a student like me,and was wondering if u could help me with a few queries.Thanks
Ok so, i was studying dentistry but had to leave(tempoarily i hope) due to this.Could u tell me how u manage to study the material and pass exams when ur eyes are in so much pain?Do u use recorders for lecture notes or just battle through?
Also,do u manage to attend all lectures?I started missing quite a few due to the air con in class drying my eyes out
Any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated!
P.s.i am a 19 yo male,so know what u are going through"
My response back:
I completely understand how you feel. People have no idea how much pain you're in and how hard it is unless they have this condition, especially if your eyes "look normal." I'm a premed student and have to spend a lot of time studying everyday.
There's a lot of things I've tried to do to fix this problem and deal with symptoms. First of all I've learned that no matter what most days I'm going to have to deal with at least some symptoms so I try to battle through the pain and learn to deal with it. I know it can be difficult to keep your focus but you've just try to battle every day. Some of the obvious things I do is trying to avoid air conditioners best I can and avoid places where there's a lot of air flow or places that seem to make my eyes drier. Another important thing I try to do is almost completely eliminate computer use and print off as much material as possible because I noticed that's when my eyes are at there worse is during long-term computer use. Then I do my best to avoid smokey areas and try to get a good night's sleep every night (at least 8 hours) even though that can be difficult in college.
I have been seeing an optometrist about this problem and check in with him about every 3 weeks and I think I have seen a slight improvement. He recommended me to a cornea specialist in the same building if my symptoms don't get any better. Here's some of the things I've tried and I try to do all these very consistently.
1) Warm compresses with Rebecca's rice baggy (awesome device) at least once a day but try to twice a day for about 5-10 minutes each time.
2) Cold compresses everyday 1-3 times a day to help me pain management and hopefully help with the inflammation as well.
3) Lid scrubs with OcuSoft in the shower every morning and find that in the long run taking a long, hot shower makes my symptoms worse so I try to do a warm compress followed by a short, cool shower and be careful no shampoo or anything gets in my eye.
4) At night I use Genteal Gel and then I use Tranquileyes, however I've heard good things about the Onyx mask so I ordered that and hope to start using that soon and I'm hoping for good results.
5) Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night so I have to set my priorities straight so I'm hopefully able to get that every night because I feel much better in many ways throughout the day when I get this.
6) Fish oil and flaxseed oil after every meal. I've heard good things about Barlean's products as well so I may try to start using one of their omega 3-6-9 products.
7) Ever since I began having these symptoms I've become a huge health nut. I try to get plenty of sleep every night so I can avoid using caffeine, limit my sugar intake, and just try to eat a lot more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and avoid more of the processed foods that seem to promote inflammation. Plus I noticed eating better I have more energy without any of the sugar or stimulants.
8) I try to avoid any medications or anything that may directly make my dry eye worse. I use chilled preservative free tears whenever I can. I used to take antihistamines for my very severe allergies but I've been getting allergy shots for the last five years which have seemed to help both my allergies and my eyes (because I limit my antihistamine use).
9) The other thing I've been trying to do is workout consistently, especially aerobic exercise where I'll break a sweat. I think you kind of just have to find something you like to do whether that's running, basketball, or whatever else it might be. I read from Dr. Latkany's book that exercise is supposed to reduce inflammation and I also notice that when I work out that it's one of the few times that I don't feel or notice any of my symptoms.
10) I also try to drink plenty of water every day and have completely eliminated soda from my diet.
Now I know none of these things are revolutionary or anything but I'm hoping these will help improve things in the long run. Until then I'm just trying to avoid some of the things I mentioned above that make symptoms worse and do the things that help with short term pain management. At this point I also just try to do my best to get through the pain and just keep on studying. My will power seems to improve every time I keep going and just fight for a few more minutes or a few more hours and hope that my condition will keep on improving.
I've thought about more drastic measures and talked to my doctor about some of them and even tried some of the them as well. I tried plugs about a year ago but they didn't really help although it may be worth a shot trying them again. My eye doctor put me on tobradex although it seemed to burn my eyes so I stopped taking it. He also put me on a very mild steroid called Alrex which seemed to help a tiny bit and we've talked about putting me on another steroid anti-inflammatory drop to help me more in the short term. He also wants me to start using Pataday for my allergies. I've also talked to my doctor about Restasis and doxycycline although he said he'd rather avoid those if what I'm doing now seems to be improving my symptoms. I've thought about getting daytime moisture chamber goggles for when I'm studying but being a college student it just seems very socially awkward so I'm trying to avoid these unless my symptoms become extremely severe. I'm also planning on try a couple of other supplements. One is called Zyflamend which is suppose to help inflammation. The other is an Omega 7 supplement which is something many people haven't heard about but I read that it has helped at least one other patient on this forum. During the winter I'll probably also get a humidifier for my apartment and maybe an air purifier as well.
I'll keep you updated with any other things that I'm trying to help improve my DES. I'd also like to know some of the things that you've tried that I haven't mentioned here that have helped you. Until then, I wish you the best of luck with your Dry Eye Syndrome and your studies."
I know exactly how you guys feel, I am a 20 year old mechanical engineering student dealing with this same stuff (started a little over a year ago when I was 19 too). When it began, I would wake up everyday with my eyes completely dried and bloodshot red. Looking at computer screens triggered redness, and reading and a/c lectures made my eyes extremely uncomfortable (although I don't experience any "pain", my symptoms are limited to dryness, slight stinging, burning, and redness). Over the past year, however, I have been able to greatly manage my symptoms using techniques very similar to yours. I exercise regularly (weight lifting and cardio), drink plenty of water through-out the day (aim for 2 32oz bottles of water a day), carleson's fish oil (2 tspns daily), restasis 1 or 2x daily, lower punctal plugs, and avoiding things such as refined sugars and very salty, greasy foods. Seems like a lot, but it actually blends in with the day without much inconvenience. I know that results vary greatly, but now for me computers and reading don't bother my eyes, me eyes hardly ever flare up red, and I don't usually notice the dryness through-out most of my days. My eyes still get dried out from fans and a/c's, they are still faintly veiny, contacts are still a no no, and I still wake up every morning with my eyes dried out and believe me, ive tried everything (Im starting to think someone comes in my room every night just to vacuum out my goddamn eyes). Some of these things as everybody knows can take months to kick in like restasis and omega 3 supplements, and the results come very gradually, so they seem somewhat hard to notice (Id compare it to a car accelerating very slowly, you don't exactly notice it while its happening but eventually you can look back in hindsight to see the difference if that makes sense?) Anyway, keep up your strict routine even if its been months with no results...I know that i'm happy I did...good luck to your eyes and your studies!!
Boy can I relate to you guys. I'm in twenties, graduate school. Dry eyes since 19. Tried most of the same stuff.
I would like to add something that has helped me. I realized that I sleep with my eyes partially open, and that made nights worse for me. I never suspected it, and would not have believed it but it turns out that runs in the immediate family.
I now try to destress before turning in for the night and it seems to help a lot. Now nights can be restorative rather than degradative. I tried taping my lids but it never worked. I'm still perfecting the destressing that works for me, but I'm considering adding a sleep mask as a trial; it might cause me to reflexively keep my eyes close.
I'm in the group too, so I guess I'll say something. I had Lasik done shortly after I turned 18. I turned 20 a few weeks ago, and it feels like it was 5 years ago since I've had healthy eyes! I'm an undergrad with a full courseload and part time work. I got out of HS a year early, and I've been taking summer courses and clep tests trying to graduate early.
Since I commute 1-2 hours each way to work and school, I rarely get the 8 hours of sleep but it does help when I can. The only substantive thing I can add is that I found Refresh PM ointment to be FAR more effective than Genteal Severe Dry eye relief stuff.
I take the plunge through approach. Don't be afraid to wear moisture chamber sunglasses in the classroom either. Most people don't care, and I really wouldn't care if they did care, haha! I just explain to them that I am a lasik victim, and the glasses help me to manage the pain.
I totally agree on the working out thing! I have always enjoyed exercise, but now it is more of a priority, because I look forward to that time of being pain-free.
2 Cor. 12:8-10
May seem like a stupid question, but what do you do to destress? I too have tried tape, goggles, ointments, ect. but nothing ever worked so maybe whatever you do could help.
To destress, I stop studying or thinking about anything stressful well ahead of bedtime. I used to study right up to midnight sometimes.. not good. I also avoid watching news or watching action movies close to bed. Instead, I do relaxing stuff like play on google sketchup or whatever. It's all part of good "sleep hygiene" if you want to look into it more.
hey everyone, thanks for your responses so far. It's nice to know that you aren't the only one like you that's suffering.
I'd just like to say that I ordered the onyix goggles and they seem to be working pretty good so far so I'm going to try to continue with those. Second I was wondering what people use for moisture chamber goggles during the day.