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Seeing makes me sick.

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  • Seeing makes me sick.

    Out of desperation, I'm seeking feedback from others hoping to gain some new insight on resolving my eye problems. I am near-sighted. I started wearing glasses in 4th grade, and contacts in 6th grade. I'm now 22 and just want to see, period.

    I apologize for the length of my post. My situation can not be summed up accurately in just a sentence or two. I would really appreciate some feedback.

    Two years ago, I was diagnosed with conjunctivitis and prescribed antibiotics by my primary care physician. It returned a couple weeks later and so I used the antibiotic drops again and was referred to an eye doctor at a different practice from where I usually go. He said the infection was gone and all that was left was inflammation, so I did a round of steroids. I continued to have redness and itching, so I saw my regular eye doctor. Actually, I probably saw him around 13 times. We started out trying lubricating eye drops and allergy eye drops, and I tried several different types of contact lenses (5-10ish?). My problems escalated as allergy season hit. I have very bad allergies and developed hives under my upper eyelids. The hives were sooo itchy and my eyes swelled a LOT. I started allergen immunotherapy and, in addition to my Allegra and Singulair, began taking Vistaril, which helped significantly with the hives. A year later I was still having trouble with contacts and so my eye doctor encouraged me to give them up and wear glasses full-time. I was reluctant to do so because I knew my glasses gave me headaches, but I did it anyways and hoped that they would subside within a few weeks once I "got used to them."

    Not the case.
    It has been another entire year since I gave up my contacts. A year of wearing my glasses, visiting my eye doctor many more times, checking and rechecking my glasses prescription, adding correction for astigmatism, trying a new prescription for reading glasses, punctal plugs, and various eye drops. I have been through 15 eye drops now. I currently use Restasis, Genteal Moderate-Severe, Refresh Optive Advanced (when I'm trying to wear contacts especially), Pataday for itching, and Alrex or Lotemax for hives. I was also referred to a "specialist." She said my tear production has increased since I started the Restasis, but I don't actually FEEL any difference. I've also had my thyroid tested. On the first test, it came back just a little low and on the second one it was normal. Sigh.

    I could probably stand the dry eyes if my glasses didn't cause me such agony. Over the course of the past year, the headaches did not subside. My eyes throb, I feel a little light-headed and nauseous. The best way to describe it is like being car sick ALL THE TIME. The nausea has progressed in severity over the past 6 weeks. This past week, I was feeling particularly miserable so I removed my glasses for relief and decided to take a nap. I woke up feeling better and ate some dinner. I put my glasses back on to do some homework on my computer. Ten minutes later I began vomiting. New all-time low.

    I have felt miserable all week. I don't know what to do. I am a grad school student with papers to write and textbooks to read, but seeing makes me sick. I don't want to give up school. I really, really don't. I just don't know what else to do. If I can't wear contacts and I can't wear glasses, how can I see? I have a consult for LASIK this week, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I am probably not a candidate because of my dry eye. I also have an appointment with an ENT to consider equilibrium disorders. Then I have a meeting with an employee of my university to discuss my options for school. Who knew eyes could make you so sick?

  • #2
    Chloebear, Do you find corrected vision in contact lenses does not make you nauseous?

    If you walk round at home without glasses you are nauseous or not? The evolutionary theory is that if the eyes tell the brain about seeing weird stuff, like everything stationary inside a car but scenery zooming by, the brain is interpreting that as eating something poisonous since it's only in the last 100+y that could ever happen! And the brain fills in most of your peripheral visual field from experience and concentrates on central vision. And you sound sure it's the glasses.

    At optometrist visits, we are finding up to 4 lines difference on the eye chart between inflamed and non-inflamed eyes. Eg within 4wk, after a short course of steroid for inflammation or keratitis, we regularly see 1 or 2 lines difference. I would think with the inflammation from allergy, and various courses of steroids and Restasis, it's still very possible that your prescription is not right and it's a bit worrying that he's only just decided there's astigmatism.

    I've raised this with so many optometrists about when to test the prescription with on/off inflamed eye surface and I haven't found one that has a clue or is remotely interested in what I'm saying yet when I ask for advice on this. They're just interested in prescribing for what presents on the day. Last year we bought glasses plus prescription sunglasses that are 1.5 dioptres off because the eyes were slightly inflamed. We didn't realise until a prescription test 6m later with someone else when the eyes were better that she was so over-corrected and by that time the money was long gone.

    Interestingly, ophthalmologists don't tend to see this as their problem either unless they are very kind and careful because it's the optometrist's job. The ophthalmology eye check is just for corrected vision with glasses on, and if you can see well enough like that they feel their job is done.

    If it's not the glasses, I think I would definitely try another ophthalmologist for advice, and also ask whether they think it could be a neuro-ophthalmology problem.

    Sounds like refractive laser surgery would be an extremely bad idea - I would think they wouldn't have a clue about any of these problems except just pushing lasik on you, would they?
    Last edited by littlemermaid; 15-Sep-2012, 01:48.
    Paediatric ocular rosacea ~ primum non nocere


    • #3
      Have you been for a second opinion with an ophthalmologist? Do you experience visual distortions (curved floors when you know the floors are flat, doors or windows that "lean" one way or another, or other visual distortion). This happened to me following cataract surgery and I had to go to bed to avoid nausea at moving around. It would seem to come in waves; okay one day, and then just an awful wave of nausea would overcome me. I kept feeling like I was having a stomach flu and your description of feeling sea sick is spot on.

      The distortion (with glasses) was a really subtle thing, but my vision was just off and glasses only made the nausea worse. I first realized the visual distortion when walking in a public space with tiled black and white checkerboard floors and it looked like there were raised bubble-like eruptions in the floor even though the floor was quite flat. Then I started to notice other visual distortions. I never thought to connect the sea sick feeling to my vision until that tiled floor incident and it turned out to be to irregular astigmatism. During my follow up visits the surgeon didn't ask about any visual disturbances like distortion.

      Hope a second opinion with an ophthalmologist will turn up answers for you so you don't have to give up your education. And I would echo LittleMermaid's comments on LASIK and refractive surgery as it may make things worse rather than better.


      • #4
        Generally, wearing contacts or going "blind" has been the only way I don't feel sick. When I wear my glasses, it comes on pretty quickly. However, after wearing my glasses for a year, it took about 3 days of going without them before I began to feel entirely well.

        My optometrist has recently considered adding prism to my glasses prescription. I don't fully understand it and I'm not sure it will make a difference. I'm sure he'd be more than willing to retest for my prescription again... there are just so many different aspects to consider. The opthalmologist I saw completely overlooked the nausea issues and instead focused on my dry eye. If one or the other was resolved, I would be functioning much better.

        For 3 days following the vomiting incident, I basically didn't wear my glasses or contacts and once my eyes stopped aching and I wasn't nauseous I was able to wear my contacts. They are uncomfortable and dry, but the lesser of two evils. I am terrified of getting sick again and basically afraid to wear my glasses.

        I highly doubt LASIK will be an option for me, at least at this point. I'm interested to see what the ENT says. Thank you for suggesting consideration of neuro-opthalmology. I did some research and found a neuro-opthalmologist in my area. If I hit a dead end with the ENT, I hope to go that route. Fixing the dry eye so I can wear contacts seems like the "simpler" route, but the reality is there will probably be times where I just can't wear contacts. I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before my eyes swell or something. Am I doing damage by wearing my contacts with dry eyes? They are uncomfortable but tolerable now that I'm not nauseous.


        • #5
          I don't think I experience visual distortions, at least not significantly enough that I notice. I do instantly feel some type of sensation when I put my glasses on, like my eyes are screaming at me, it's kind of like a light-headed feeling and when my eyes adjust to the glasses it's uncomfortable.

          It definitely comes in waves, like you said! This is a problem because every time I have a "good" day I start to think, "Oh, I can deal with this. I need to stop making such a big deal out of this! It's pathetic!" and then the next wave hits and I'm miserable and can't keep up with my school work. But yes, it's that sensation of motion sickness. I just got real happy that someone else has felt this (I mean, I'm sorry you have, but not everyone understands how debilitating it can be). But thank you for your post.

          If it is distortion, it is very subtle. Did you resolve your distortion issues? If so, how? This is another possibility that I will bring up with my eye doctor. I feel like I have many different ways to consider, which is overwhelming but also reassuring that maybe there is still answer somewhere out there.

          And I'm not getting my hopes up about LASIK. It doesn't help that I keep reading horror stories on here.


          • #6
            Is this keratoconus? I think you can get it with ongoing allergies. That might explain why the contacts help. Have you had corneal topography imaging?
            Paediatric ocular rosacea ~ primum non nocere


            • #7
              Maybe scleral lenses would be an option? They fix vision and help with dry eyes. There are people here who know a lot about scleral lenses and could tell you more than I can.

              I'm just thinking that it would be important to figure out if your contacts irritate your corneas or the inside of your lids. If it's the lids, then sclerals might do the same.

              Good luck.


              • #8
                I've never been told it's keratoconus. I'm not sure if I've had corneal topography imaging... I've done several types of tests but I'm not sure what all of them are. Is that something that would be part of a routine eye exam? I'm sorry, I'm not exactly proficient in optometry/opthalmology...


                • #9
                  I had never heard of scleral lenses until I joined here. My lid irritation is more under control then, so these might be a possibility. I'll have to look into it. Thanks!


                  • #10
                    Re: LASIK... Even if dry eyes weren't an issue for you, I would be extremely worried about someone with your very unusual vision issues getting LASIK or any other refractive surgery. If the difference between glasses and contacts can cause you such huge issues, then the differences surgery might induce can do the same - permanently. I have known a small handful of people over the years who never knew their focusing mechanism was so sensitive until they acquired a host of problems (such as dizziness and nausea!) after a refractive surgery.

                    Have you been thoroughly screened for eye muscle issues (exotropia, etc)? If you haven't already you might want to see, hm, maybe a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist as they tend to deal with those things more than others. I might be totally barking up the wrong tree but sometimes a latent binocular vision issue can start presenting symptoms when some factor changes - like (in a few cases I've known) having LASIK, or (I'm just guessing) going from contacts to glasses. Maybe even after having a prescription change due to those episodes you had awhile back.

                    If all else fails I sure agree with the idea of sclerals (which incidentally would resolve any irregular astigmatism) - and would echo the caveat about lids vs cornea. However for some of us sclerals are quite a different ballgame from soft lenses. I can't wear soft lenses at all, but I've worn sclerals for 6 years.
                    Rebecca Petris
                    The Dry Eye Zone


                    • #11
                      My issue was surgically induced so quite different in origin.The nausea went away before my vision was corrected. I had what proved to be an incorrect diagnosis of keratoconus and through the National Keratoconus Foundation's list of board certified doctors, that led me to an optometrist who fits custom contact lenses for people with KC and also patients with irregular asymmetric astigmatism. One of the ophthalmologists used a special kind of machine to scan and then he printed out on paper a representation of what I saw. It fairly boggled my mind! A machine that can scan the eyes, and then print out what the patient sees! Then I knew he really understood how miserable I felt and that I wasn't imagining things.

                      Suggest you be very persistent and if one doctor doesn't help, find another one. If you happen to be near an academic medical center, you may find better diagnostic capabilities.

                      Once the doctor did a full exam with dilation and determined the eye was healthy, and identified it as a cornea issue, I was sent for GP lenses. My doctor took color corneal topographies to map the surface of the cornea, and all the aberrations. The maps are color coded representations of the high points and low points just like a geographic topographic map. The doctor designed the contact lens to correct the vision that way. I started with GP lenses, but couldn't tolerate them, and now have hybrids. So far, they seem to be helping.

                      I hope you are able to find some relief quickly.


                      If it is distortion, it is very subtle. Did you resolve your distortion issues? If so, how? This is another possibility that I will bring up with my eye doctor. I feel like I have many different ways to consider, which is overwhelming but also reassuring that maybe there is still answer somewhere out there.

                      And I'm not getting my hopes up about LASIK. It doesn't help that I keep reading horror stories on here. [/QUOTE]


                      • #12
                        Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I'm pretty sure LASIK is not the route I will go. As nice as it would be to see without corrective lenses, I have a feeling it would just make me feel worse.

                        I haven't been thoroughly screened for eye muscle issues, but my optometrist did discuss it with me and said he could refer me to someone. I think that will be the next step if the ENT isn't able to help me. I will also discuss sclerals with him. The neuro-opthalmologist is another possibility. Still seems like a long road ahead of me.


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