A person's red, irritated eye looks in the rearview mirror while driving down a road.

The Challenges of a Solo Getaway With Dry Eye

It’s been 2.5 years since I spent a weekend away by myself. It’s hard when you’re a mom of young kids and you have multiple health issues, including chronic dry eye. When I have been fortunate to take a solo retreat, I haven't roamed too far or for too long since I don’t trust my body very much.

Part of that lack of trust involves my eyes. For some reason, a lot of people don't think chronic dry eye is a big deal. People take my lupus more seriously, but still ask if I’ve tried yoga or kale. When I talk about my dry eye, however, others don't seem to understand why eye drops don't fix it.

I want to share some ways that chronic dry eye can be more complex than just adding a few eye drops and how it extends into all parts of my life, even fun weekends.

4 ways dry eye complicated my solo trip

Driving

My husband is the default driver in our family. On a normal week, I typically don’t drive myself much farther than down the road to preschool drop-off or a doctor’s appointment. With a solo trip, I must drive, so I can’t rest my eyes unless I plan out stops along the way. Yet, I only have so long before my autoimmune diseases will wear me down energy-wise; therefore, I’d rather not stop at all if I can help it.

I prepared by shifting the air flow towards the windshield, using tons of eye drops before getting in the car, wearing my suction sunglasses, and picking a venue only 1.5 hours away from my home. I’m not ready for a longer drive. I also practiced frequent and long blinks as often as possible. Despite it all, I arrived with dry and weary eyes.

My rental was not dry eye friendly

I stayed at a little cottage tucked into the edge of a vineyard and it was lovely. However, it was also dusty and dry. I missed my rigorous vacuum regimen that keeps my home at a low dust level, as well as my multiple humidifiers. I also missed how much simpler it was to travel before my dry eye.

The dustiness of the cottage wasn’t a deal breaker; it would have hardly bothered me aside from my dry eye. I consider some dust to be within the range of normal for a rental. But, after spending so much time at home over the past few years, I forgot how dust seriously exacerbates my dry eye.

Wouldn’t it be something if we could get “dry eye friendly” added to the list of extra amenities provided by rentals?

Extended writing hours meant extended dryness

My trip was not just a solo getaway, but also a break from mom life and a mini writers retreat – as writing is one thing that fills up my soul and makes me happy. However, hours on the computer and dry eye don’t go well together.

For the most part, I did short bursts of writing, about 30 minutes, and then took breaks to rest. I spent a lot of time on the couch with my eye closed waiting for them to stop burning. At times I found this frustrating, particularly when I was on a roll and didn’t want the creative juices to stop flowing. I definitely overdid it a few times.

Knowing everything was on my shoulders

I’m very used to being able to rely on my husband when one or more parts of my body aren’t working as they should. He was an hour and a half away and could have rescued me if needed.

However, one reason why I took this trip was to try to reclaim some independence and do things for myself to whatever extent possible (sometimes I don't know what I am capable of until I push myself a little, although it must be done carefully). But there’s a certain amount of pressure knowing that I have no backup and I’m far from home.

I’m very grateful that I have the money, support, and (barely) enough physical independence to take a weekend off in a beautiful place. And I'm grateful that, in general, my husband does the driving for me and our family. Nonetheless, it’s hard to let go of the frustrations of how much easier it was to travel before my illnesses and dry eyes.

What dry eye issues have you encountered when trying to travel?

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