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Chronic Irritated Eyes And My Story

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  • Chronic Irritated Eyes And My Story

    The Gyst of It All

    I've had recurring eye problems -- burning eyes, tearing left eye, a stye on my left eyelid that's currently subsiding, "greyer" (less white) sclera, eyelid gunk in the morning, etc. -- off and on since 1997. I believe it is something contagious or communicable through in-direct touch. I'm convinced I have spread it to other people like coworkers and family members -- perhaps bacteria or a microorganism. I have talked about it with two family doctors, and two opthamologists to no avail. I seem to be "managing" it with frequent facial and hand washes with tea tree oil mixed with baby shampoo.

    My Story In Detail (Grab your lunch)

    I had no eye problems at all until 1997. I was in my mid-late 20's. And I moved in with a roommate with bad hygiene. I noticed after about 3-4 months living with the roommate, the sclera of my right eye (the whites of my eyes) were getting a big red vein forming from the top. This vein was permanent. Up to that point, I had perfectly bright white slera with no red veins at all. I didn't have a computer at the time, and didn't read books much at all, so it wasn't eye-strain. Then I got athletes foot (fungal infection), among other infections.

    I should also mention, that at this same time, one of my other good friends, that I would go visit regularly, was a heavy antibiotic user. When he would get minor acne, he would go to the doctor with a list of antibiotics he had already taken and insist on a different one. If I hadn't saw it, I wouldn't have believed it. When I was shown the list of more than 20 antibiotics he had taken prior for minor acne, I was shocked -- there really are people out there like that, and they badger doctors into giving them new antibiotics. I understand this is a good way to create super-bug bacteria. I thought I'd mention this, as maybe… just maybe, it plays into my situation, in addition to my roommate.

    Between these two people -- my unhygienic roommate and my antibiotic crazy friend from the late 1990's -- I'm not sure what I was inadvertently exposed to.

    About a year living with the roommate, I got my first ever eye-infection. I was waking up with my eyelids caked shut, totally red and veiny. I finally made my way to a clinic (as I was very busy at work, working long hours), and the doctor gave me prescription eyedrops. After using them for the week, the eyedrops did nothing. At times, it seemed like it improved, then it'd be bothering me again. My one eye would be tearing and dripping constantly -- i'd have to walk around with kleenex in my pocket to dab it, so people didn't think I was crying.

    I went back again to the health clinic, and told the doctor the eyedrops did nothing, and they prescribed another one. After a week or two, still no results. Again, it was really out of my way to go to the doctor, as I was really busy at work (I worked for a magazine with tight deadlines and sometimes I was getting home at 10pm at night). I was really trusting the doctors to know what it was, and help "fix" it. I was very busy at work, and going back a 3rd time just seemed laughable -- I resigned myself to knowing the doctor couldn't help me. With me it's two-strikes and you're out. Each prescription was costing me money. And each doctor visit was several hours of my time, and another hour or more going for the prescription. I just didn't have time to keep running back to the doctor. I had that tearing gunky eye for more than a year and a half -- YEAR AND A HALF. There were days when I woke up and my eyelids were caked and crusted shut, and I'd need hot water splashes to soften them apart. I seemed to manage it with very frequent face washes with warm/hot water.

    This is my new normal. With no help from doctors.

    My Eye Symptoms:

    My eyes are no longer bright white. They are now greyer, duller, with lots of neo-vascularization (permanent red veins). The red veins on the side of my right eye get comments from people "Oh wow, why are your eyes so red?".
    If I've had a nap, or have fallen asleep and then wake up, sometimes my eyes will be really red.
    I am sensitive to bright light and prefer to close the curtains.
    Periodically, I will blink, and all of a sudden the vision of one eye will be completely cloudy and blurry…. then I'll blink again, and it'll be gone. I don't even know if there is anything that can describe this. It doesn't happen to me every day, or every week, but pops up every now and then.
    My eyes burn frequently.
    My eyes are currently tearing. Looks like i'm literally crying in one eye.
    I've had two styes on my eyelid in the past 3 years. I had the doctor look at one, the other time is right now, and it's currently subsiding, but I can feel the bump of it when I touch the eyelid.
    Maybe about 4 or 5 years ago, the very tip of one eyelid was puffy and red, almost like someone had blew it full of air like a tire tube.
    When I wake up, my eyelids are always gunky -- not caked over where I can't open them, but just enough to feel a foreign-object sensation.

    How I Manage

    Hot showers and facial-washes help alot.
    If it wasn't for my morning showers with hot water, I don't know how i'd function. I also wash my face intermittently throughout the day -- whenever it feels gunky.
    About 2 years ago, I started using my own concoction for face wash -- baby-shampoo mixed in with drops of tea tree oil. I also have oily skin and it seems to manage my acne (but that's another story).
    I'm usually scared if i'm invited to go camping, where I may not have access to hot water and frequent mid-day facial washes. I'm not even sure what would happen to my eyes -- would the gunk just keep building up and get worse? I don't want to find out.

    It's Not Just Me Anymore

    In 1998, after my 1997 eye-infection that lasted for a year and a half, I got a job at another company. I was sharing a large cubicle space with another coworker. And she was in her mid-late 30's. Weeks, or months go by, and out of nowhere, she gets a large red vein in one of her eyes. And it's permanent.

    I remember her saying to me one day, "I didn't have any eye problems until i started working with you". After she said it, she quickly said she was sorry.

    But she was right.



    In 1998, I went to visit a friend of mine in Vancouver, Canada. I stayed at his place for the week. And each morning, I'd ask my friend if I could get on his computer to quickly check my email, and he'd usually get on the computer afterward. My friend got an eye infection after the 3rd or 4th day I was there. Coincidence? Or paranoia? I didn't make the connection back then. But as the number of "coincidences" grew, I started to connect the dots.

    All Coincidence Or Me Going Crazy

    Over the years, I've had many different jobs. And it's when I start at a new company that I'll really notice incidents with colleagues that I share the same space with. All of a sudden they'll come down with a full-on eye-infection. Some will complain of burning eyes. Some will get neo-vascularization. Some will have that dimmed greyer sclera. And some will get "blurry" eyes.

    I tried to make a list of coworkers/friends/family that "coincidentally" had eye symptoms or complaints over the years. I have a list of over 30 people: family members, friends, coworkers, etc. And these people were forthright -- they would verbally complain their eyes were blurry, or burning, or bothering them. I'm sure there are many others through the years, who I don't know about.

    I recall a visit with a client at his house. He wanted me to show him some things on his laptop computer. So I used it for maybe 5-10 minutes. When I saw him a week later, I complimented him that he was looking great. But he told me he had surgery (!) on his swollen eyelid only 3 or 4 days after I saw him. I think it was blepharitis?

    Another account, I recall kissing a friend of a colleague at a staff party (don't ask), and the next time I saw them, they told me they woke up with an eye-infection.

    Last year, a family friend was visiting my family, and we were playing cards every night. She mentioned she had just started using eye drops because her eyes had suddenly gotten all blurry and burning. All we were doing was sharing the same cards.

    The last job I had, I was working on a project with a client who came into our office for about 2 weeks. She was sitting literally 2 feet from me the entire time. One day, she told me she woke up with her eyes almost stuck together, "like she was sick".

    And the best example is the most recent occurrence.
    I started a new job last fall. I came in one morning, and my colleague was bending his head back to drop eyedrops in them. Then I saw his eye -- completely blood shot and infected. There are only 4 people in the office and he was on and off my computer, touching the keyboard and mouse. We never touched directly. And another colleague I worked with at a different job last year came down with an eye infection. I had been at the company for maybe only 2 -3 weeks.

    About a year and a half ago, I moved in with my mom to save up for a downpayment for my own place. She's very particular with her washer and dryer, and insisted she do my laundry. I will notice after she's handled my dirty clothes and done my laundry, she'll usually be complaining about her eyes burning for days after, and her eyes have gotten neo-vascularization in the past year or so. My mom has always had clear white sclera with no complaints for most of her life and she's in her late 60's. And now they are not.

    I could go on and on with the stories -- with more than 30 that i can readily recall.
    Can this all be coincidence?

    How It Could Be Spread

    I'm not being intimate with these people -- obviously. I'm not hugging or kissing coworkers. I'm not shaking their hands either. This is purely indirect contact -- sharing the same computer keyboard or mouse, pens, glass, cards, phone, etc. I believe it is some sort of bacteria, that persists on the surface of objects for hours or even days later.

    For years and years, I haven't touched my eye area with my hands -- unless I'm washing them with my facial wash. During the day, I don't rub them, or touch them. Therefore, I believe whatever this bacteria is, it's not coming "from my eyes". It's coming right from my body, and just happens to effect the eyes. It's on my hands. On my skin. Everywhere.

    Sometimes I don't have any outright "symptoms" aside from the "new normal" of what my eyes normally feel and look like. My daily face-wash management seems to keep the effects down.
    So I believe now I could be an "asymptomatic carrier" of whatever this mystery bacteria is.

    My Frustration

    I had talked about this with my former family doctor, without trying to sound crazy. He did an eye swab. Nothing came of the results. My doctor said to me, "let other people worry about it". In other words, if someone gets an eye-infection, that's their problem, not yours. But, it's not funny when you're thinking about people like family -- like my mom or sister, or my nieces. Or people I love.
    2ndly, as I've pointed out, I don't think the bacteria, or whatever it is, is "coming from my eyes". So swabbing my eyes is sort of missing the point. But I'm not a specialist or doctor.

    My current family doctor in my home town, dismissed my concerns as "allergies".

    In one of the instances of constant tearing I had with my eye that went on for months, I visited an opthamologist. It sounded like a clogged-up tear-duct. So she got some solution and did the little "poke" into my tear duct with the solution draining through into my nose. She seemed a little dissapointed that it wasn't clogged. As I made my way home, my eye still teared up, and it was dissapointing. But then when I woke up the next day, after having dealt with a tearing watery left eye for months, it all of a sudden stopped. Whatever solution she had used in the procedure (a mild antibiotic?) had worked in stopping my tearing. I saw her again months later, and told her about it. But she did not know what she used for the solution.

    My mom had an eye infection last year (big surprise). And she was going to the hospital emergency ward (as it was the weekend). I told her to get a swab done of her blood-shot gunky eye. If anything, the infection could be swabbed for what was infecting her, and just maybe, it was the same thing I'm a carrier of? She saw a doctor, and when she asked the doctor to take a swab of her infection, he said, "oh, we don't do swabs anymore". I wasn't with her, so I couldn't insist on it. And that was that. A missed opportunity.

    A couple months ago, I talked about my situation with an opthamologist and he did an eye swab. Nothing came of the results. From what I understand though, is they have to do an eye-swab for each thing they are looking for. In other words, if they aren't looking for the right thing to begin with, they won't find anything.

    So, I sit here. With no help from doctors or specialists. In my daily life, if I don't have to make physical contact with someone, I won't. I don't even want to shake hands or touch people unless I have to. When i handle someone's phone, I grab for sanitizer or wipes. Not to protect myself, but to try to protect them. Who wants to be responsible for someone's decrease in quality of life? To hear people constantly complain, "Oh my eyes are burning".

    Thanks

    At least someone out there can hear my story.
    And maybe this can be licked someday -- whatever it is.

    If you're still reading, thanks for your time.
    And if this needs to be filed somehwere else on this site, let me know!

  • #2
    Dang! You make a very persuasive case. However, You have got to make a living and so you've got to interact with folks. Your a Howard Hughes case in reverse. (i.e. you need the gloves to protect other unsuspecting folks). But some of this I say tongue-in-cheek. Seriously though, I wonder if you really recognize how prevalent this dry eye related ailment is among the general population? I suspect that its far beyond what you are acknowledging. Furthermore, I and countless others have got similar visible symptoms (i.e. bloodshot eyes, tearing, excess blinking, etc.etc.) but unless I bring attention to these traits very few people seem to be aware of them. Only when I mention them or bring attention to the symptoms do they start to focus on my eyes. When I act non-descript as such, then I almost always notice that non of my fellows workers will be especially aware of my eye issues. Hence they don't talk about their eye problems. I experience the same tendency after I had a early heart attack even though I'm in good shape, etc. All of a sudden everyone in the office wanted to tell me about their high blood pressure, chest pains, high cholesterol, etc.Virtually every other person had a potential "heart related" tale of woe to communicate to me. Of course if they hadn't found out about the heart attack they never would have breached the subject..

    Our cashier, secretary and a few sales personal will periodically seem to have similar dry eye symptoms to mine. So mabe 4-5 people out of 25-30 in the office. However, they don't usually speak about the symptoms. I don't believe it has anything to do with me or contamination of shared instruments. Instead of concentrating on how many people have developed similar symptoms, try noticing how many, many countless people that you know and have worked with closely have NOT developed similar symptoms. I am speculating that the no symptoms folks massively outnumber those who do have symptoms. Frankly, my gutt is telling me that you've got an ailment that's unpleasant (I share that with you) and through no real fault of your own you are "cherry-picking" and focusing and memorizing and obsessing on the folks that you have known that do have similar symptoms. Again, some of this is probably because you may be verbalizing your condition more to others than you realize. Hence they frequently then give you the feedback that you may subconsciously want to hear because it feeds your hypothesis that you are some type of a carrier and chronically contagious. Most of us have been guilty of similar mistaken attitudes and behavior and it simply proves that your human.

    My take is to abandon the guilt feelings. However strongly pull in your habit to afford casual communication from you to others about your condition from absolutely anyone who is not medically treating you for that condition. If you do so much of this will become a non-issue very quickly. Best of Luck, Hope you get better and hey, new treatments are constantly streaming live including "Lipiview" and "Lipiflow", new types of steriod drops and more effective medicines the last few years..My "doctor's doctor" as he was referred to me has been telling about tiny localized pulsating sound bursts that are being tested to reopen our clogged membomian glands when still surgically possible..Keep the faith that your condition will get better and focus on ways to accomodate your ailment privately without discussing it with folks that don't have any of the symptoms! If can you try to do this, I believe that you will start to see different results and you guilt will justifibily start to fade.

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    • #3
      If anyone knows of any websites/forums that are more focused on eye infections and research, that would be awesome.

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