Dealing with chronic dry eyes (take 2)

Some people know when they have dry eyes. Their eyes feel…well, dry or maybe gritty, scratchy or irritated. I think my problem is that my eyes are dry, but I’ve become used to that feeling so I never feel my eyes are dry. I don’t know there is a problem until it starts to affect my vision.

I was diagnosed with chronic dry eyes back in 2019. To correct the damage to my dry eyes, I tried amniotic membrane applied to my eye. Amniotic membranes have been used in the healing of burn victims. It promotes wound healing and prevents scar tissue formation. It also helps about 88% of those with chronic dry eyes.

And it did work – for a year until I ran into the same problem with the severe dry eyes and dry patches on my eye. Since it had worked before, I decided to go ahead and try the amniotic membrane again. This time, a different doctor in the office did the procedure. Let’s just say, it didn’t go as smoothly as last time. Instead of only covering my lower part of my eye, this time they put the membrane over my whole eye, which obscured my vision horribly (something that should have gone away but this time didn’t). And then because my eyes were dry, they had trouble removing the membrane a few days later. It was not a good experience, but it did fix my dry eyes.

My insurance didn’t cover either procedure (needed to meet the deductible first). So, in December when I noticed a small change in my eyesight while reading my phone, I wanted to deal with my dry eyes before I get to the stage of dry patches and amniotic membranes. I’d be cool with it if it went the way the first one did though the expense isn’t one that I really want to pay if I don’t have to.

Once again, I researched dry eyes. I began doing some of things I really should have been doing all along. The problem with chronic dry eyes is that there is no cure. You can only treat the symptoms and work to maintain the moisture in your eyes. It is something I should be working on daily. I needed a routine that I would keep up with.

Here are a few of the things I am doing.

Eye Drops – I think this is the first thing that many of us grab when we have dry eyes. I am currently using two different drops with different lubricants. Since I wear contacts, I use Oasis Tears Plus as recommended by my doctor. For first thing in the morning, I have been using Refresh Digital PF and before bed I use GenTeal Lubricant gel. I have heard that you have to find what works for your eyes so experiment with which lubricant works best for you.

Mask – A heated mask can help improve gland function and slow tear evaporation. When I started, I was using a mask that you heated in the microwave, but the heat always didn’t last long enough so last year my brother bought me this electric mask. By adding a little water to the mask, it provides a moist heat which feels good. Afterwards, a gentle massage of the lids is beneficial and take almost no time.

Eyelid Scrub – This can be either a pre-moistened cloth or liquid spray and is used to clean the eyelid of excess oil and debris. This is the one I am least sure of as way to maintain the moisture in my eyes, but I saw several recommendations for it so thought I might give it a try. I am using these pre-moistened cloths that I cut into fourths. I have added this to both my morning and evening routine after the mask.

Supplements – Omega 3 fatty acids can the eye’s oil film, so I have been taking a supplement meant for dry eyes. The negative is it is 4 pills. But I plan to try this one next as it requires only 2 pills per day.

Humidifier – With the heater running in the house, the air in the house is drier so I ordered this humidifier to run in our bedroom during the evening and through the night.

Hydration – And one of the simplest things should be to drink more water but this is still one I struggle with. I am not good a drinking throughout the day but I am working on it.

And of course the other thing to do is blink more. I spend a lot of my day staring at the computer. Looking away from the screen and blinking is something I am trying to getting in the habit of doing.

I’ve been working on this new regime for a few weeks. On a few days, my eyes have been bad enough to affect my eyesight. On others, everything seems fine. Hopefully, I can keep on top of this and not have to see the eye doctor for more advanced treatment.   

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