Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quality of Life: It's the Little Things.

I have chronic dry eyes.  I've needed prescription steroid drops twice because of dry, scratched corneas.  I have had dry eyes for as long as I remember, and I remember thinking there was nothing I could do about it other than avoid wearing my contacts whenever possible and using eye drops.  But when I was pregnant with Russell my eyes got so much worse.  They were always red and painful.  At times they were even inflamed (it looks weird when your eyeballs swell!).  It was literally impacting my quality of life.  When you're stressed taking care of a medically fragile 2-year-old who pukes daily and a newborn baby with colic and undiagnosed food intolerances who won't sleep unless he's at the breast, sometimes little things like painfully dry eyes is enough to push you over the edge.  Same with needing a root canal (I've had four root canals on two teeth...yeah, that was miserable).  It's hard to be a good mom when you're in pain, even if it's minor.  Just the fact that there's always something gnawing at you.  Ugh.  I had to have it taken care of!

So my optometrist said that I was a good candidate for tear duct plugs.  I think most people think that those tear ducts on the inside of your eye, closest to your nose, on the bottom, are where tears are produced.  But that's not so!  It's where tears are absorbed.  So if you insert a little plug in them, you'll have more tears on your eyes.  I was concerned that my eyes would always be watery if my ducts were plugged (Russ had a plugged duct when he was born, and his eye was super goopy for a few months), but since everyone has coordinating tear ducts on the tops of their eyelids, you can still absorb some tears.

So last summer my doctor inserted temporary collagen plugs (they last about a week) to see if the permanent ones would be worth it.  Oh my gosh, the difference was amazing!!  So he inserted permanent ones a week later.  The procedure can be done in the office and only takes about five minutes.  It's pretty painless, except that your ducts will itch for the first few days and you have to resist the urge to rub them so that the plugs don't get dislodged.  But the itching goes away, and even though I'm more aware of when I rub my eyes, I haven't had any problems with them becoming dislodged.  

It has made such a difference in my quality of life that when my glasses broke a few weeks ago, I was actually able to wear my contacts all day every day for about three weeks, until my new glasses came in!  And when evening comes, thinking about taking my contacts out is no longer the first thing on my mind.  It may seem so simple, but it has literally changed my life.  And since something so simple was able to make my life so much better, I thought it would be worthwhile to share it with you.  If you're suffering from dry eyes, know that there is a solution that is much more simple than using over-the-counter eye drops multiple times a day for the rest of your life.  

Here is some more information about it (it's technically called punctal occlusion), including pictures.

Do you have dry eyes?  Have you ever heard of tear duct plugs?  Do you think it's for you?  

1 comment:

Katie Bradley said...

My mom had it done several years ago. I helped a lot but she still has dryness issues. Really glad they've helped you so much! (also, I finally met Pa Houa today and you're right, she's great!)