Eye Pain is My Worst Symptom
Last updated: September 2022
Chronic dry eye is a condition with so many symptoms. These include light sensitivity, eye fatigue, redness, blurry vision, and more. One of the hardest symptoms for me to deal with is eye pain.
A challenging symptom
Besides chronic dry eye, I have two chronic pain conditions, meaning I have widespread pain in my body at all times. Before being diagnosed with chronic dry eye, I attributed my eye pain to one or both of these conditions. While that could be part of the issue, I now know that eye pain is also a symptom of dry eyes.
I became sure my pain was caused mainly by dryness when I started using lubricating eye drops. Immediately after putting a drop of the solution in each eye, the pain would decrease significantly.
Different kinds of pain
Most people know from experience that there are several different kinds of pain. Pain can be throbbing, sharp, shooting, radiating, dull, pins and needles, etc. My eye pain feels very different from the rest of my chronic pain. It is a surreal feeling to simultaneously experience and process several different kinds of pain in different parts of my body. Usually, my eye pain alternates between throbbing and dull pain. If I have a really bad headache or a migraine, then I might have sharp or radiating pain.
Eye drops can help reduce the pain, but it never fully goes away. I think of that as my baseline eye pain. When my eyes are drier than my baseline, it is usually because I forgot to put in eye drops, use a warm compress, or my eyes have been more strained. And when this happens, the pain gets worse.
It's hard to ignore
Eye pain is the most challenging and frustrating symptom for me to deal with, because it is harder to ignore than the others. Blurry vision, light sensitivity, and eye fatigue are some symptoms that get better when I rest my eyes. If I am unable to close my eyes and give them proper rest, then even closing my eyes momentarily offers a moment of relief. Unfortunately, this approach does not work with eye pain for me.
When my eyes are hurting due to dryness, closing them and giving them a rest does not reduce the pain. If anything, it makes me more aware of the pain and feels worse. This is likely due to the inflammation that dryness causes.
A reminder I need to adhere to my treatment
Were it not for the pain, I might not have brought up my eye symptoms to my optometrist. The eye pain is what helps me most in adhering to my eye care routine. It reminds me that I need to remember to take certain steps daily to reduce the pain I experience.
Other symptoms are more easily ignored for me, but not pain. I'm not sure about how common pain is as a dry eye symptom. I seldom hear people with dry eye talk about eye pain, but for me, it is one of the most prevalent and troublesome symptoms.
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