Article Date: 3/1/2012

Dry Red Whine
Patient’s Perspective

Dry Red Whine

The right doctor silences an ongoing refrain of “My eyes are so dry!”

By Deirdre Kelly, as told to Erin Murphy, Contributing Editor

THE FACT THAT MY eyes were dry, burning and bloodshot seemed only natural. Work was really busy (my laptop was practically merging with my actual lap), plus I was hooked on a certain series of vampire books that I won’t name because it’s aimed at readers well below my age (32).

I was doing a number on my eyes and paying the price every day.

Although I took full responsibility for the problem, I still whined to anyone in earshot that my eyes were burning. Then, people would ask if I had allergies or needed new glasses. But my glasses were less than a year old! The problem was the worst at night, when I really couldn’t put my book down. My eyes felt like they had sand in them — even blinking was uncomfortable!

I tried a variety of eye drops. Some said they’d clear up the redness, and a bunch of others claimed to moisturize. In the office, I went to the ladies’ room four times a day to use eye drops. I used them at home after work, before bed, and when I woke up in the morning. They didn’t help much at all. The only time my eyes felt a little better was after a hot shower.

This will get better, I told myself, once I get past this work deadline and finish the last book in the series.

But those milestones came and went, and my eyes only felt about 25% better. Then I ran into my fairy godmother on an eye drop run to the ladies’ room. Well, not exactly a fairy godmother, but a temp named Lisa who was spending a week working the front desk. I stood at the sink, puttting in eye drops, and gave her my typical line, “My eyes are so dry!” She said, “That’s awful, isn’t it? I used to have that problem, too, but I got the plugs.”

I grilled Lisa in the bathroom and she told me she has what’s called “dry eye,” so her doctor recommended a cleaning regimen, some dietary supplements, medication and even little plugs that keep her tears from disappearing down her tear ducts. This was the first I’d heard of any of these things!

What kind of doctor was Lisa seeing? For that matter, what kind of doctor had I been seeing? I’d checked “yes” to “dry” and “burning,” so where was my list of remedies?

Back at my desk, I placed a call to my optometrist. His receptionist put me on hold, and then got back on the line and said, “The doctor says he can write you a prescription for Restasis if you like.” I told her, “No, thank you.” I decided I didn’t want a doctor who treats dry eye over the phone and only when I ask him about it specifically. I called the front desk and asked Lisa for her doctor’s name.

At my new optometrist’s office, they had me complete a thorough questionnaire and undergo an equally thorough exam. My new doctor explained that reading doesn’t cause the problem; it just makes it worse. He had me try several treatments until my eyes felt better. I couldn’t believe my former optometrist had never even tried to address my condition. Now that I’m being treated for dry eye, my eyes can handle all of the reading I can throw at them. I feel comfortable about 90% of the time, and I’m sure the people around me are pleased that they don’t have to listen to my ongoing complaints! nOD

Editor’s note: Periodically, new OD will explore eye care from the patient’s perspective.
Whether you have a special interest in contact lenses, low vision or pediatric care, you’ll find out from real patients what attracts them to a practice and keeps them coming back.

Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: March 2012, page(s): 62