A woman reclines with a warm compress on her eyes while droplets cascade in the background

Not a Dry Eye in the House – Almost!

My dry eyes had been getting worse, and my ophthalmologist and I weren't making any progress.

In the evening, I couldn't keep my eyes open to read or watch television, and computer work was becoming very difficult. There always seemed to be something in my eye, which of course, there wasn't.

Applying lubricating drops wasn't enough, and my eyes were so dry that the drops hurt when I put them in.

Needing to take action

Something had to be done, so I decided to take myself off to the optometrist in between visits to my specialist. Appointments with her are quick and easy to make, and our Australian Medicare covers her whole fee, so it is essentially free.

She tested my eyes (and checked my macular degeneration while I was there) and agreed that I suffered from chronic dry eye and I needed to do more than apply lubricating drops. She mentioned the new Hylo-Fresh drops with the pump action which were preservative-free. I told her I was already using these.

Then, quickly, she got very serious! She started to prescribe a new, vigorous daily routine for me, and as she went through it, I think I was in shock. I said to myself, “Wendy, concentrate, or you won’t remember all of this”.

My new treatment routine

Warm compress

First, in the morning, I need to apply a warm compress to my eyes for ten minutes. This is to help unclog the meibomian glands. I had heard about these warm compresses from our MacularDegeneration.net community, and I had tried it with some success using face cloths.

I was, however, tired of having wet, dripping facecloths hanging around the bathroom in varying unhygienic degrees of going moldy. I invested in a proper face mask from the pharmacy, which goes in the microwave for a minute or so. This produces a warm, moist heat and is quite comforting.

Lubricating drops without preservatives

After the compress I am to apply one or two of the lubricating drops without preservatives from the pump-action bottle. She told me that the eye can hold no more than one or two drops at a time, so if I was flooding the eye with these drops, I was wasting my time and money. I was pleased to find out about this, because I had been operating under the idea that more is better. I am to keep my eyes closed for a minute after applying these drops. I hadn’t previously done that either. Lots of learning here!

Another sort of drops

The next step in the regimen is another sort of drops. These ones are Nova Tears containing perfluorohexyloctane. Ten minutes after the first lot of lubricating drops, I am to put one drop of these Nova Tears in each eye. I think these are to help with the meibomian gland disfunction.

They feel oily, and I do have trouble applying these. The bottle is a hard plastic and has a one-way valve that I find difficult to use. I also can’t tell when a drop has landed in my eye because the drops are so soft and greasy that I can’t feel them. I think they are acting more as an expensive face moisturizer at the moment, because that’s where they are landing. I am to keep my eyes closed for a minute after applying these drops, too.

Now…… wait for it …… I am to do this four times a day! For a month! At least I think that’s what she said. I was suffering a bit of shock and information-overload by this time. As much as I hate being in COVID lockdown, if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have time for this new routine. But there are fewer excuses while a lot of the day is spent at home (doing constructive things of course, not just watching television)!

The results

A month is up now, as of my writing this, and my eyes feel very much better. That’s not surprising really, as I spend most of each day looking after them! I will admit that the four-times-a-day routine wasn’t always achievable, but I did what I could. I’m due to go back to her now and find out what else she has in store for me. I will be telling her that the little “oily” drops are too difficult to use and asking if there is an alternative brand.

This time I’ll take a pen and paper, because she is very keen, and I’m sure she’ll have other suggestions up her sleeve for me to try.

Together we will both continue working towards “not a dry eye in the house.”

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