Hi, I'm a Guy with Dry Eyes
Hi there. Like you, I’m one of the millions of Americans who have chronic dry eyes. I’m also a guy, which apparently makes me rare. This makes me feel weird and alone, but the truth is men can absolutely develop dry eye disease, too, and for many of the same reasons!
When my eyes got worse
It’s hard to say exactly when this journey started for me, because it gradually crept up on me over the years. I know that I had trouble sleeping with a fan blowing on me at night, because I’d wake up with my eyes feeling sticky and dried out. I assumed that my eyes weren’t staying closed while I slept (known as nocturnal lagophthalmos, and it’s somewhat common). So I filed this away as another weird health thing to deal with. At some point I started sleeping with a mask over my eyes and that helped.
But at some point it got worse. It seemed like starting in September with the first cold fronts and change of weather, my eyes would be sticky, irritated, and miserable every morning for hours until they would “wake up” for the day. This made the first few hours of my work day staring at the computer screen even more miserable.
Trying to treat them initially
I made an appointment with the kindly old optometrist down the street, and he gave me my first diagnosis of dry eye disease. His recommendations were ones many of you have probably also heard: scrub those eyelids with diluted baby shampoo at least every morning, use preservative-free eye drops as needed, and try warm compresses with a clean washcloth – or better yet, look for a microwavable mask.
I tried all of this but didn’t notice a huge improvement. In fact, I started to have recurrent styes, where a spot on my eyelid would swell up painfully like a zit and take days to stop hurting. I just put up with this because I didn’t know what else to do about it. There was so much I didn’t know then, and as kind and well-intentioned as my optometrist was, he didn’t really tell me how serious this was, or what advanced treatments or specialists might be able to do for me.
What I wish I had known
Sitting here 10 years later, after visiting 3 different dry eye specialists, my overwhelming thought is “I wish I had known.” I wish I had known this was a really serious problem that could get much worse and really impact my quality of life, and my vision. And I wish I had known there were specialists in my area who could help me, educate me, and empower me to make it better.
This was of course before Xiidra and some of the newer treatments we have today that look so promising, but Restasis did exist and I knew about it. But every eye doctor I saw seemed content with just recommending the basic home care approach, so I assumed my case was not that serious.
In hindsight, I wonder why it never occurred to me that staring at a computer screen all day (and then watching TV at home) might be part of the problem, or that maybe it wasn’t normal to keep having styes over and over. I realize all of this now, but I just didn’t have enough information then, and Google searches weren’t filling in the gaps in my knowledge.
You're not alone
If you’ve made it to this website, you’re way ahead of where I was back then. All the pages and articles available here can help you get started on your journey with chronic dry eye, from learning about potential causes, to treatment options and finding a specialist who can truly help you. Not to mention, this has probably affected your work life and mental health. There are resources here for these issues, too.
The most important thing I can say is you’re not alone. Whether you’ve just gotten a diagnosis or are already knee-deep in various treatments, we are here for you.
Have you ever canceled travel plans due to dry eye?