When I woke up the other morning my first thought was, as it is every morning, “how are my eyes going to feel today?”
My second thought was, “there’s something in my eye.”
I sipped my coffee, still groggy from a night’s sleep, trying to ignore the foreign body sensation in my right eye. But soon it had me rushing to my panic room (the bathroom).
I stared into the lighted 10x mirror searching for what I thought might be an eyelash. Looking in that mirror was scary enough, but finding no eyelash was even scarier. So I proceeded to clean my eyes the way I do every morning, with Ocusoft Lid Scrub using organic cotton rounds, then flushing them out thoroughly with a few squirts of sterile saline solution.
Still, this foreign body sensation persisted. I flushed my eye out again with saline. Finally, out came a light blond hair, about an inch long. It wasn’t mine (probably belonged to one of my many pets). But I didn’t even care. It was finally out!
My Early Dry Eye Days
My earliest symptoms of chronic Dry Eye began years ago with a periodic sensation of something in my right eye. Something was stuck on my cornea. I could see in it in the mirror. It caused severe irritation, tearing, pain, and swelling. Not having any clue at the time about what I was dealing with I would try to dislodge this foreign body by pretty much any means possible: flushing with water, a piece of tissue — two approaches I now know are NOT good and NOT smart!
Usually after a few days of torture the thing in my eye would disappear. That was until one evening when it decided to stay. Thus I began life as a Dry Eye patient.
Eventually I learned this thing was a filament. Filaments are strands of mucus with epithelial cells attached. The strands are connected to the corneal surface, a condition called filamentary keratitis.
Thankfully, ever since I was diagnosed with filamentary keratitis, and now that I’m under the care of a really good ophthalmologist, plus with daily management, my eyes have been filament-free for the past three years.
Everyone Gets Something in Their Eyes
All of us at some point will say, “I think there’s something in my eye.” We usually know right away because our eyes are sensitive to anything that lands in them. In my case, I spend a lot of time outdoors and something always seems to find its way into my eyes. I even recall, years before my eye problems with Dry Eye, when a beetle flew into my eye. I thought I’d flushed it out only to find it lodged under my lower lid the next day. It was like being on the TV show Monster Inside Me. Thankfully, I got the beetle out eventually, and life went on.
But for those of us who live with chronic Dry Eye, or any other eye disease that causes pain and inflammation, a foreign body sensation can leave our already tragic eyes flying off the Dry-Eye-pain Richter scale. Something as insignificant as a lose eyelash can have me scrambling to my mirror. Sound familiar?
Eye pain mixed with a foreign body sensation is nothing to laugh about. Now that I know better, if I could go back to that first bout with filamentary keratitis I wouldn’t hesitate to seek treatment immediately. I might have saved myself years of agony and discomfort. But I didn’t.
These days, the way I see it, life is about learning and the more we educate ourselves about Dry Eye the better we’ll be able to manage it.
Chronic Dry Eye Patient