My Chronic Dry Eye Pep Talk
Last updated: March 2023
One of the most frustrating things about starting treatment for chronic dry eye is there are no easy fixes. For most of us, there is not one simple thing we can do or just one prescription that takes care of it. It’s a whole routine, from morning to evening (and even at night while we’re trying to sleep).
On top of that, sometimes the to-do list from your dry eye doctor doesn’t work. You’ve tried the warm compresses, the preservative-free eye drops and the lid scrubs, and your eyes still feel like sandpaper most days.
Dry eye motivation
Here is the essential lesson I’ve learned after 6 months of throwing the kitchen sink at this problem: be persistent and determined.
I’m not sure this actually comes naturally for me. When I was a teenager I really wanted to learn how to play guitar. But the strings made my fingers hurt so I eventually gave up in frustration. Same story with piano, skiing, and a few other things. There is one thing though that I stuck with until I had it figured out: riding a bicycle.
This is probably true for a lot of people. The first time you got on a bicycle it was frustrating. Maybe you even fell. Hopefully you had a parent there, being your cheerleader, telling you if you just kept trying you could ride that bike all the way down the driveway, even when it seemed impossible. Then one day, you did, and you kept going.
This experience may not be the perfect analogy, but the feelings are the same. When I first got my chronic dry eye diagnosis and found out how bad my eyes were, I was heartbroken. Fixing this seemed impossible. I tried everything my dry eye doctor suggested, stuck to a routine like clockwork, and my eyes still felt horrible most of the time.
But some little voice inside me said, “I have had enough of you!” You meaning chronic dry eye. Anger can be a healthy motivator (for me at least). It helped me find the energy to keep trying.
Don't quit trying
I started reading as much as I could about the causes of dry eye. Sometimes I’d find a new treatment and read about that. Sometimes it was still confusing and I didn’t know what to do. I saw some other dry eye doctors to get second opinions, and this gave me more understanding about my eyes and new ideas for treatment.
While I was busy doing my dry eye routine, it gradually started to get better. Then one day I realized, you know what, my eyes don’t feel as bad as they used to! I remember how bad they used to feel in the mornings and how hard the first few hours of work would be. There are still some days when they burn, but it’s not every morning and it’s not unbearable.
When I look back and remember all the steps I took the past few months, I see a lot of me getting back on that bicycle.
What I’ve learned is, this is not a condition that can be cured overnight. It’s what I’ve done each day and the choices I’ve made to keep looking for answers that has gotten me here. It’s impossible to know how long it will take to get to your eyes feeling better, but the one sure-fire way to fail is to quit trying.
Have you experienced mites on your eye lashes?