Chronic Dry Eye Flare Ups and Seasonal Changes
Last updated: May 2023
For people with chronic illness, every season presents a different kind of challenge. For some, chronic dry eye and other conditions may be worse in the winter. Others may struggle more during other seasons. Unfortunately for me, I tend to be in the group that struggles during one of the most beautiful times of the year - springtime.
A repeating pattern every year
Over the years while going through TSW (topical steroid withdrawal), I noticed a pattern. All of my health conditions - skin, allergies, digestive system, eyes - seemed to get worse during the seasonal change of winter to spring.
My birthday happens to be in April - smack dab in the middle of that. Unfortunately, I’ve found I have the worst flare ups happen right before that every year. Great present from the universe, huh?!
This year was no different. I started to get an awful skin flare up during March, and it has continued since. Of course, as soon as my skin or allergies are worse, so are my seemingly never ending eye issues. These days, as I spend most of my time in bed, with raw open wounds covering my face and neck, it’s been hard even keeping my eyes open most of the time. My eyes are surrounded in rashes from eczema and TSW too, my eyelids included, so it hurts to even keep them open most of the time.
One condition sets off the other
All of this together also means my chronic dry eye symptoms have ramped up. The burning, stinging, and gritty sensation is present almost all day while I’m awake, making it hard to do just about anything. My Bruder heat mask, which normally helps me most, gets taken out of the equation. It’s incredibly hard to put a heat mask on raw, open, burning skin, as I’m sure you can imagine. So my only bit of relief in the moment is using extra lubricant drops. When this is the case, I also purchase eye gel drops, as well as nighttime eye lubricant. These are all extra measures to protect my eyes while dealing with so much inflammation.
Navigating the depression and anxiety
Needless to say, this time of year ends up being quite a depressing time for me. As flowers bloom outside and nature comes alive again, I end up stuck in bed, feeling like I’m missing out on it all. It’s certainly a test of resilience and patience. Some days, it’s hard to find a reason to wake up in the morning, if I'm being completely honest. But something keeps me going, and I hold onto that.
I hold onto the small, sweet, gentle moments of the day, doing my best to have gratitude for what I do have, rather than focusing on what I don’t. Easier said than done, especially when dealing with so much pain. My depression and anxiety kick in full time.
In spite of all that though, I’m still here, and doing my best to be gentle with myself and my body while it goes through the process. I’ve found more often than not, it’s better not to analyze it too much and overthink, but rather just try and be with it - as difficult as it can be some days.
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