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20 Year Old Male With Severe Dry Eyes

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  • 20 Year Old Male With Severe Dry Eyes

    From everything I've read and from all the doctors I've seen, I am a very strange case. I am a 20 year old male college with severe dry eyes otherwise most would say I'm very healthy. I've had dry eyes since I was about 16 but everyone always just wrote me off by saying it's only mild and to use this random sample of artificial tears. It wasn't until 2 years ago that I saw a doctor and stressed to him that he needs to check for dry eye syndrome. It wasn't until then that they did a few tests on me.

    The place I went had a relatively new way to test dry eyes. It was called a TearLab Osmolarity Test and they basically took a sample of my tears and tested the quality of them in this machine to help determine if I had dry eye. The doctor knew there was a problem right off the bat because he was having problems even getting enough of a tear sample to do the testing. When he finally did I was a 365 in my left eye and a 394 in my right eye. Normal is considered around 275 and the most severe it goes is 400 so right away the doctor knew I was a severe case even though he said he couldn't believe it by just looking at me from a distance. He then proceeded to do a few other tests like a Schirmer test where I was a 4 in my right eye and a 7 in my left. Finally he did a TBUT test and I believe that was around 2 or 3 seconds. I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure those numbers correlate with the severity of the original test.

    Now my doctor said that if I didn't mention anything he might have looked over me just like the other doctors that I saw because I just wasn't the stereotypical case of dry eye. They don't know exactly what's causing it because as far as I know I don't have any of the more serious causes like autoimmune diseases or anything like that. However I do have extremely severe allergies. I was allergy tested when I was 15 and was found to be extremely allergic to 72 out of the 73 things I was tested for. I've been getting allergy shots since then for about 5 years now and they've definitely helped my allergies. I've been trying to wean myself off antihistimines because I know those worsen DES. I used to wear contact lenses although I used to fight the pain throughout the day while wearing them and eventually just gave them up.

    I can't stand wearing glasses, especially since I love playing sports and being an active 20 year old guy, but I don't really have a choice. Contact lenses also used to be a huge hassel and pain but I think that was mostly due to my undiagnosed DES. My ultimate goal used to be to take care of my DES and get LASIK and not have to worry about corrective lenses or DES. However from what all the things I've read on this website I'm not sure if that's realistic/a good idea at all anymore as I've read some horror stories about LASIK on this site.

    I've tried about every over the counter eye drop in the store and haven't found any of them to be that great. If I had to choose I'd say the Theratears drops have been the best although no matter what drop I used I get about 5-10 minutes of relief and that's about it. I use warm compresses every morning and night and use cold compresses whenever my eyes feel especially tired and sore. I had all 4 ducts plugged with temporary plugs but they didn't have much effect. I was on Restasis for about 2 months before my insurance stopped covering it so I didn't get the full effect but I didn't notice much of a difference while on it. I've been taking fish oil/flaxseed oil for the last 2 years and while I don't think it's made my DES much better I think it has stopped it from getting worse. I use Genteal Gel at night because I've found that's the best thing without being an ointment. I bought TranquilEyes but I sleep on my side so I wake up about every morning with them laying on the floor so they don't have much of an effect.

    I'm a 20 year old pre-med student (hoping to become an ophthalmologist someday), so I have to put a lot of time into the books and computer which makes my eyes much worse and impedes my studying a lot. Even though I've never posted here I've read through this forum diligently for the past 2 years and it's basically been my number 1 source of information over that time.

    Sorry for basically writing a novel or if this is in the wrong section but I've been wanting to say all this and hopefully have someone understand me for the past two years now. I'm hoping I can get this taken care of as soon as possible and not have to deal with this nearly every moment of my life. I'm only 20 years old and this greatly interferes with life and I can't imagine going through the rest of my life suffering like this. I think members on this forum are some of the only people that can truly understand what I'm going through when most people just write it off as something mild. If anyone has any other recommendations for me anything and everything would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Hey David,

    Well, I guess my DES is quite similar to yours in a few ways. I am 26, first started having dry eyes 3 years ago during my college years. They kept telling me my DES was mile until a doctor in the city checked the quality of my tears and told me they were far from optimal. He just said to use artificial drops. I am otherwise healthy and leading a healthy non-smoking non-drinking life style with a lot of exercise. I'd been hoping this issue would be temporary, but have recently realized that it might not be the case.
    Another things that have been difficult for me are headaches caused by dry eyes, sensitivity to light and really annoying floaters that have increased in numbers in the past few years.
    I have just started grad-school this summer, after realizing that I cannot put my life on hold, but like you said- it is very difficult to read/use the computer or do research with the constant soreness of my eyes....

    What somewhat helped me were the following:
    1) Samilisan eye drops instead of all the other ones (which had a relieving effect that lasted for a very short time and then made my eyes feel heavy and sore).
    2) Silicon lower lid plugs - made me more tolerant to AC and places with no open windows (e.g. the mall).
    3) Rice baggy for the relief of more painful days.

    Has anything helped you?

    Do you think that allergy shots are worth a try? (I have been found to be allergic to many things as well- including- dogs, cats, sheep, various trees and dust!).


    • #3
      I am 24 and have severe dry eye as well.
      I recently found out that I don't have symptoms when I live stress free.
      If I am at home and have peace I have almost no symptoms, if I go among people the pain gets unbearable.

      What I want to point out is the following : don't underestimate your psychical well-being as it may contribute to dry eyes.
      (I sometimes find me thinking I am allergic to my life lol)


      • #4
        If you think at all that there might be a psychological or tension factor to your dry eyes, try some relaxation exercises where you relax all the muscles around your eyes and your whole face. It might just help you too with some of the eye pain.

        I too notice an increase in symptoms if I need to go out. It is much harder to get to the relaxed state. But I am sue that with practice it can be done. . . small steps. A key may be to train the body to better adapt to perceived stress. Maybe some biofeedback trainging might help. . . but I don't know much about that. Anyone tried biofeedback?


        • #5
          David, you're somewhat of a younger version of myself it sounds like.

          I want to give you some suggestions that have helped me, but do talk them over with your doctor; I am not a doctor.

          1) humidify your study area if it's dry, perhaps winter in NE is extra dry inside at at times
          2) discuss allergy eye drops with your doc: my doc agreed they were a good idea for me and he recommended Zaditor. I got Zaditen though because it has a preservative free option (not sold in the states)
          3) clear goggles for studying can do wonders. If you're like me, they'll allow your eyes to stop squinting so much and their benefit can last beyond when you take them off. I'm liking Quartz by tranquileyes
          4) most recently, I've been taking a large swig (2 Tbs?) of fish oil in the morning on an empty stomach. It seems to do more than just taking a tsp whenever.
          5) try not to put theratears in too often (ask your Dr.) as that can be worse than not putting in drops at all
          6) use goggles when outside in the wind, something like what you might wear on a motorcycle
          7) tranquileyes sleep mask does something for me, but I'm not sure what. It might help correct undiagnosed nocturnal lagophthalmos but the extra heat they provide on the eye seems to help me; that's likely going to be highly individualized though.

          Good luck


          • #6
            Hi David- I'm taking it that what you were offered for relief of symptoms was plugging and restasis? Did your doctor offer any other suggestions as to what might be helpful? if your insurance was covering this, I would think they'd at least have to offer you a substitute. 2 mos is not really long enough to know if it will work for you, though I've been on it for 7 mos and don't find anything wonderful about it. Have you discussed this situation with your doctor? He may be able to provide samples or know of somewhere you could obtain the restasis if this is what's best for you.


            • #7

              Im just shy of 20, and i have the EXACT same story as you. The only difference is that when i passed all those test with fling colours. I have been fighting for 2 years now and I'm losing my patience. Im wondering if ill ever find a cure. It seems like people on here are the only ones that understand our pain and how painful it can get at times. Whenever i tell people i have dry eyes, they laugh and think nothing of it. Well maybe one day it'll hit them like a bag of bricks! jk.... but honestly it is ruining my quality of life. i have a nice collection of eye drops. Im sort of testing all of them to find out which one is the best..... their all tied unfortunately.....

              I applaud you for going into ophthalmology. Since beginning my quest on finding the cure i have considered going into that practice. It's always been in the bad of my mind every since this journey began. Id really like to diagnose the root cause and heal the world so no one has to feel this annoying pain. But i highly doubt that I'm mentally capable of doing so. I have a apt with my ophthalmologist tomorrow, tons of questions to ask. I hope we all find the solution. Never give up.

              Im currently on restasis, and have been for the past year..... no luck i consider those drops useless, they actually make my eyes feel more dry if you can believe that.


              • #8
                I have something really similar. I'm a 24 year old female and my eyes basically burst into red veins out of nowhere one day about a year ago. However my Schirmer test was a 1 and a 2 So I have been really hurting. I'm going crazy trying to figure out an effective treatment.

                Here is something I learned over the past year: don't just go to the eye doctor. The eye doctor only looks for eye diseases. This could be something systemic that is only presenting obvious symptoms in your eyes!

                I have made appointments with a bunch of different doctors in different specialties, and have recently switched eye doctors because my first doctor only had about a minute and a half to look at me before running off to another patient. I think that's a major reason why I haven't improved.

                Anyway. If anyone wants to keep track of my treatments and symptoms, I just started a log! You can visit it here.
                Last edited by Seavie; 16-Apr-2012, 00:36.


                • #9
                  Hi Seavie,

                  Enjoyed reading your blog and so so true in all that you say. Cant wait for more.


                  • #10
                    Hey sea vie,

                    Great blog and keep working hard.

                    "Difficult things take a long time, impossible things take a little longer"


                    • #11
                      I thought I was the the only one that develped dry eyes at a young age. I started having the major issues around 22-23. I am now 32. What a horrible time to live with this in my 20's.
                      Before they said I had dry eyes, my doctors all thought I had an alergy of some sort. Not the case at all!!!


                      • #12
                        Sorry to hear your story, and to see that there are so many young people suffering from dry eyes from the replies. It sounds like you've been trying a lot already. It's indeed good to find some understanding here. It's so hard for others to really understand what we're going through! I find it hard to imagine how it must have been if my eye problems had started during my studies. I really hope that your eyes will improve!

                        I'm 28 years old, and suffer from dry eyes since a year. Before that, they were dry, but manageable. It's probably Sjögrens.

                        For me, it's been good to continue looking for more a more specific diagnosis. After a year of seeing specialists many times, and being diagnosed with conjuctivitis sicca / severe dry eye, i was diagnosed with MGD only 3 weeks ago. My Schirmers are about 2 mm, and tBUT 4 seconds. Antibiotics seem to have helped a bit lately to deal with the MGD. Probably only temporarily, but at least it did something. (in addition to compresses, 10x daily gels, goggles, tranquileyes, etc).

                        I only manage to work 2 - max 4 hours per day. My main recommendation for you is to humidify the places where you study. I'm only capable to do my work when my office/living room (wherever i am) is humidified. Other places are really uncomfortable. If you can, be very selective in where you study and how long you can be there. For me, 1 hour in a very dry room at work (for a meeting or something) can ruin the rest of my day. If you can do more at home where you can control humidity, I'd choose to study at home. Perhaps you can make some arrangements about that with your advisors.

                        I wish you all the best,


                        • #13
                          32 yo healthy male....severe dry eyes at 20. schirmers 0 and 2 plus mgd.

                          tried everything over past 12 help. hate people thinking i am hungover or stoned bc my eyes get so red.

                          not alone


                          • #14
                            Same story here

                            I'm now 21. I wore contacts from age 12-19 for the entire day without a problem. Then one day, my two week disposables got too dry so I switched to dailies. Those for great...for a year or so until they actually were so dry they wouldn't fit.

                            If I understood correctly, I had a TBUT of 1 at one point in my life. The only thing helping me out is TheraTears Nutrition (not the eye drops) oral supplements. I got my best results from them after using them for A WHILE. The container says use for 4-8 weeks for best results but I think at week 10, I am feeling my best. Punctal Plugs didn't do anything for me neither did Restasis, those little rice things in the corner of my eyes, or cold/hot compresses.

                            I too played sports all the time and now feel a bit out of luck. Right now, they are doing studies on Lipiflow and its long term effectiveness. Everyone seems to be saying it doesn't do a whole lot but maybe it depends on what the specific issue is.


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