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A Day in My Life With Chronic Dry Eye

I have both age related macular degeneration and chronic dry eye syndrome. Most people know that macular degeneration is a serious eye disease that can lead to total loss of central vision. Much less is known about how serious chronic dry eye can be.

Learning a lot since my diagnosis

Until I was diagnosed, I was like most people and thought “no big deal.” Since being diagnosed three years ago, I have learned a great deal about the condition. Now I know that if it is severe and goes untreated, it can lead to severe scarring of the cornea.1

To help friends and family understand the impact of chronic dry eye, I decided to write about a typical day in my life. My case of chronic dry eye is not severe, but it impacts every day of my life.

How my morning looks

Out of habit and after years of commuting to work, I still get up at 6 a.m. each morning. One of the first things I do before heading into the kitchen for coffee is put eye drops in my eyes. Looking for the best eye drops to relieve dry eye symptoms is a quest all that have dry eye will understand.

In the beginning, I tried the cheap artificial tears you can pick up at any Dollar General for little more than a dollar. It did not take long to figure out they provided very short-term relief. So I moved on to lubricant eye drops. Stand in front of the eye drop section of any drugstore, and you will see a dizzying array of products to pick from. Today I use the Walmart generic brand similar to Systane lubricant drops.

The next step in my routine

My next step after drinking that first cup of coffee is to heat my microwaveable eye mask. I leave it in place for ten minutes as recommended by my optometrist. Since I have meibomian gland dysfunction, that was the first thing recommended to me, and it does help.

On a day I have shopping to do, I reapply eye drops, put on my Cocoon fit-over polarized sunglasses, and head out to shop the nearest Walmart 60 miles away. My dry eye syndrome causes blurring, so the polarized glasses improve contrast and clarity while driving. The wraparound design keep wind out of my eyes that can exacerbate my dry eyes. I have to reapply eye drops periodically throughout the day.

How my evening looks

In the evening I love to read. Due to vision loss related to macular degeneration, I read everything on my iPad.  Electronic devices are notorious for causing eyes to be uncomfortably dry, feel itchy, and gritty. If I read too long, my eyes feel heavy; yet another symptom of dry eye syndrome. It’s time once again to reapply eye drops.

I decide to forgo reading to watch tv with my husband. TV watching also causes my eyes to feel uncomfortably dry.  Staring at the tv, I blink less often, and that, too, can cause the eyes to dry out.

Heading for bed

Finally around 10 p.m., it's time for me to get ready for bed. Lubricant eye drops were not long-lasting enough for me to get though the night. I often found myself reapplying eye drops at 2 a.m. My doctor recommended eye ointment, which does work well. I have a bit of trouble getting it in my eyes, so I have started using lubricant gel eye drops. I find they are easy to apply and last all night.

Time for sleep, and now you know my typical day. I am thankful that my case is not severe and OTC products are working well for me.

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