Hi, I'm completely new here so this is a bit of an introductory post.
I'm 22 and have been dealing with eye pain on and off for years. It all started when I was about 18, and at that point I had worn acuvue oasys contacts for about 3 years. Being both young and new to wearing contacts, I can say I abused them a bit - wearing them for long hours and even sleeping in them once in a blue moon. At the time however, I didn't have a single issue with my eyes. Well, towards the end of that 3 year period, my eyes began to become increasingly drier, then one morning I woke up with severe eye strain, it felt as if the muscles directly above my eye balls had been "pulled." I was concerned but not overly alarmed. I found I couldn't wear my contacts comfortably so I stopped wearing them for the most part and decided to see my optometrist. He believed I had some sort of viral infection in my eyes, and upon his investigation of my eyes, he found nothing, in fact he said my eyes looked quite healthy, he even tested my dryness, I can't remember what I scored but I remember him saying I was well within the normal range. On top of that I had no external signs of irritation, my eyes were perfectly white, I had no redness whatsoever.
Two weeks later the "pulled" feeling remained, so I decided it wouldn't hurt to be seen by an ophthalmologist. She prescribed steroidal anti-inflammatory drops. After a few days of using those, I began to experience a pain I had never felt in my life: burning, gnawing nerve pain in what I can describe as the area directly beneath my cornea, where I was essentially administering the drops (I'd pull out my lower lid and place the drops there). I immediately stopped the drops. This horrific pain persisted for about a month. The pain would start in the lower part of my eyes (worse in the left eye, which happens to be my dryer eye), and would radiate to my jaw (my bottom front teeth took the brunt of it, burning as if I had brushed them with acid), and my chest, and sometimes even my finger nails. My way of coping with the pain was by rubbing my chin, which I would rub to the point of becoming raw.
Fast forwarding now - this electric nerve pain is what I now feel if I wear contacts for too long or when my eyes dry out from contact wear. I started wearing contacts again back in January, as I was having no issues and my eyes even didn't seem dry anymore. I was careful at first, wearing them only on special occasions and only for a few hours. I became too comfortable and began to wear them more frequently. Things took a turn for the worse in the middle of a trip to Las Vegas (May, so about 5 months later) - the air was BONE dry and hot winds occurred daily. Well my nerve pain came back. It persisted for about a week and a half and then subsided (I should mention that prior to leaving my opto switched me from acuvue moist to trueye, and upon my return I demanded he switch me back to acuvue moist). As the contact lens addict that I am, I tried wearing contacts again, and was fine for about 2 weeks, the then pain and dryness returned with a vengeance.
I've had the pain for about a week now, barely yesterday did it start to subside, but only after staying home for 2 days straight, in a dark room (the nerve pain reaches a fever pitch when exposed to bright lights, while experiencing the nerve pain I am extremely light sensitive), with a humidifier on, and applying eye drops into my eyes every hour on the hour. Or really what felt like every five minutes.
In terms of testing, I've had everything imaginable done. Allergy tests, blood panels testing for everything under the sun, I had my optic nerves looked at and the back of my eyes, I've had MRI's and cat scans (w/differential and w/out). All normal. I've seen a neurologist and my current ophthalmologist is a corneal specialist. I've also had punctal plugs placed in my lower tear ducts. I now take magnesium and B-complex vitamins daily, including Trader Joe's "super vision" vitamins.
I was told over and over by my ophtho that the contacts cannot possibly be causing the pain I'm experiencing. And the nerve pain itself started with the steroid drops. Clearly the contacts are drying my eyes out and causing issues. But the nature of the pain is very strange. I only feel it on the lower part of my eyes, and the pattern of radiation is strange to me, with it radiating to my jaw and chest. And then of course there's the light sensitivity.
I'm debating starting restasis. According to my ophtho, I produce tears but my film tear quality is very low and my tears evaporate almost instantly. I'd like to start serum drops as well.
And I was wondering, are scleral contacts an option for someone like me? I certainly don't want to cause damage to my eyes, but due to the nature of my work, I simply can't wear glasses 24/7.
The only thing that even puts a dent in the pain are medications like Ativan or substances like alcohol (not taken together of course). Pain medications do not work at all. And I must say the pain is utterly excruciating, even with my high tolerance for pain (I've had kidney stones, and I'd rather pass stones daily than deal with this nerve pain).