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New member, dryness started 3 months after Lasik

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  • New member, dryness started 3 months after Lasik

    I got Lasik in in early February 2015. It was part of my life plan to have it done before my 30’s (I’m 29) so to better enjoy my following projects such a special effects make-up and travelling. In the country I live, Lasik is mandatory to everyone wanting to get in the police force, and here was my golden proof that it was safe: surely our government wouldn’t force it on its denizens otherwise, right? And several of my acquaintances had Lasik and were so happy of their new life! Besides, I was a fair enthusiast of science. I can’t wait to talk with robots or clone my pet and the like. The science wave to enhance my life was there, and I was thrilled to jump in!

    In any case, I was tested in one of the most reputed clinic and was told I was a perfect candidate. I did ask some questions about dry eyes about the procedure since the fine print was a bit worrying, but I was told it was lawyer paperwork and not to pay any attention to it. It only happened once in a billion blue moons! If I did develop dry eyes, some drops and plugs would do the trick. Cosmetics? One week tops, and I’d be back with glamorous make-up! The guy couldn’t even understand I decided to take one week to rest after my operation…3 days and I was fine to go back to my graphic designer job! I was given a detailed list dates of when I would heal and be ready for X or Y activity, finishing at 3 months where all side-effects (including dryness) would have gone away. All was wonderful, and I had the operation.

    I was overjoyed at first. My vision became perfect almost instantly. Amazing! My eyes were a bit dry but nothing too distracting, and I was told on my 1 day, 1 week, 1 month check-up I was healing nicely, and they’d see me back in 1 year for my final check-up.

    As spring came along (about the 3 months mark) I started to notice drafts of wind in public transportation were starting to bother me. Then I had to go buy drops because the dryness became more pronounced. Then I had to switch to gel drops because regular ones like Systane Ultra made my eyes feel like overstretched elastic. I started to wear sunglasses again to try to avoid wind. When my eyes started to turn red like I was constantly on drugs, I started to panic and called back Lasik. They gave me an appointment for the next week and told me to put more drops until then for relieve the symptoms. I was even more stressed they couldn’t suggest anything else to help me cope until then. I found on my own changing my computer angle, humidifiers and omega 3 supplements could help and bought them. But supplements take at least one month to act…I tried warm compresses. They helped as long as they were on, but the dryness was back as soon as I took them off. I couldn’t wait for Lasik to put their magic drops and plugs and be done with it.

    The technician who saw me was a first a bit condescending. ‘’A little dryness, hmm?’’ he said…and then inspected my eyes…and then started to flip out as I wasn’t in ‘’his protocol’’. He couldn’t plug me, he said, because there were no tears to retain. My tears just ‘’weren’t doing their job’’. In the end he gave me a Restasis and FML prescription and hushed me out. I was given another appointment in one month (this upcoming July 15) and was told to hang in there as Restasis was quite slow to take effect, often 3-4 months, but FML would help me boost its effect for the first two weeks.

    There was a lot of stress and trouble getting the Restasis prescription that I won’t go into detail over here. I started it on the 10th of June, but even the pharmacist couldn’t properly explain to me how it worked and why it was taking so long. What was it exactly? What was I supposed to do until it worked? Left to my own devices, I started researching online. The statistics terrified me. I read that if you had dry eyes after the 3 months mark, you had them permanently. I read that Restasis only worked on 15% of people and could take years to take effect. That dry eyes happened to 60% of Lasik sufferers. That it had no cure. I read that my life was over, basically. Make-up would be out of the question. Travelling too—I could barely support going into a mall, how would I tolerate a plane? What about my job? It was so hard to keep looking at the computer. How long could I manage it before my boss had to fire me? Then what about the money?

    I stopped eating. Nothing could tempt my appetite, and what little I ingested I vomited instantly. I cried all the time. A rash appeared over my entire torso. I started spotting blood in my undies. I felt like I had fists in my stomach. Sleep, which is my usual escape, turned into a nightmare too. I woke up every hour, shaking like a leaf, sweating profusely. I went back online to find success stories but only found more alarming news. I began wishing never to wake up because I couldn’t handle more of not knowing when – if – I’d ever get better. I believed this was God’s punishment for being vain. Guilt was gnawing me at me non-stop. I did this to myself! I paid 3000$ for the privilege of suffering night and day! Plus I had people tell me to stop whining and think of real sufferers, like cancer patients. I felt so selfish for pitying my case when so many more people are suffering more than I do, but I didn’t know how to ‘’snap out of it’’ as they said. My pain was constant. Every waking moment. Every morning I wished it was gone and it wasn’t. Maybe my pain tolerance is just low, but it still made me hyperaware of my misery all the time. People around just didn’t understand. Even as I told them dry eyes were nothing like a minor itch, that I felt my eyes shrivelling in their sockets when I went out, they kept thinking I was overreacting and wanting Lasik for themselves.

    To make matters worse, though I supported the FML just fine until then, on the 5th day it burned my eyes like lava. It was a huge setback. My eyes were so red. I called Lasik to know what to do but they didn’t bother calling back before 48 hours. It was the pharmacist who told me I was probably allergic and to ditch it (still can’t figure how I managed to support it for 5 days though). The worst of all though, was that nobody could tell me why. If I was healing just fine until now, why did it suddenly took a turn for the worse? I took it as a sign for the worse. Everywhere I called they were surprised my dryness didn’t clear up after 3 months.

    This lasted for about 2 weeks. I then collapsed at work and moved back with my parents to give myself a break. My mother pushed food back into me. My father drove me around so I didn’t have to fear the wind. I also discovered I was okay in hot showers, and knowing I could escape the pain for 15 mins or so each day was a relief. I also saw an optometrist who said Lasik was done perfectly on me and that my cornea was healthy. He prescribed Tears Naturale PM for sleeping, but I didn’t like the feeling of petroleum jelly in my eyes (I think I’ll try GenTeal for sleeping instead, which has some nice reviews here). He also said I could put as many drops as I wanted to find relief with no side-effect, but I find my eyes become heavy if I put too many, like they were becoming lazy. Instead I found Refresh Endura thanks to this forum, which helped me a lot, and ordered a pair of TranquilEyes (I may not end needing for long, but being proactive helps). While I wait for them to arrive I sleep with a wet towel over my eyes. I was able to sleep again thanks to that. I’m still in deep discomfort but I wouldn’t chose to die any longer if I had the choice.

    More than anything, what helped me was reaching out to Rebecca to register on this forum. Her words were so empathic, I felt understood. She gave me hope that I would get better by telling me that a sudden turn for the worse after the 3 months mark was a frequent pattern in Lasik apparently, because your nerves grow back. She assured me the vast majority of Lasik patient recover completely, or at least get a lot better. A friend also suggested the allergy season as possible cause, though I don’t subscribe to that because I never suffered a pollen allergy in my life.

    This is getting long and I ask you all to forgive me, but I write this also for the possible lone soul searching for answers like I did and clinging to every detail to match to his/her own experience. I believe now that I will get better. In the meantime, small goals help getting through the day. I may not be able to do make-up for now but I perfect my techniques for hair and skin in the meantime. I may not be able to travel next year as planned but I try to learn the languages with audio lessons in the meantime. I note down every little moment my eyes feel better for a second in a notebook to remind myself there are better times. Hopefully these moments will increase in frequency soon.

    Even if I recover completely though, I wouldn’t advise Lasik to anyone now. Nothing is worth the nights of despair I went through and that I will probably continue to go through sometimes until I get better. Nothing is also worth my destroyed faith in doctors. It is so hard to believe you’ll get better again when you weren’t told it was a possible outcome in the beginning…why should I believe them now, right?

    Do I resent Lasik? Yes and no. I understand they cannot predict 100% who will have complications out of their protocol and who won’t. I also understand how sales pitching work and how disconnected from the pain of your client you can be when something goes wrong when there’s nothing you can do as an individual and it’s not your fault as an individual either (I’m thinking of you, Mr. Technician who went on auto-mode that ‘’persistent dryness as a possible consequence was written in the fine print’’ when I was weeping that I couldn’t function anymore in our phone conversation and that I wanted relief). But I wish I was better advised about dry eyes. I wish that they had a prepared document of suggestions to help you cope, not just sending you on the internet to fear. I wish I was asked questions about the level of pain I was ready to endure if something went not as expected. This is not a case of buyers beware – those are my eyes!

    So in summary:
    February 8th 2015: had Lasik. Was told I was healing nicely on subsequent check-ups.
    Around May (3 months mark): Dryness increases exponentially to depression-inducing levels.
    June 10th: Started Restasis.

    Current regimen:
    Morning: Restasis when I wake up. Closing the cap and putting the rest in the fridge for the night dose. TheraTears nutrition (3 pills) with breakfast.
    Day: Refresh Endura every hour, or Systane Gel Drops if I can’t tolerate it. Humidifiers everywhere. Lid massages with hot compresses every 20 mins. Sunglasses for outside (wish I could find some that go over my eyes).
    Night: Restasis around 18h00. Taking hot long shower after to help me erase the last traces of stinging. Lid massage with baby shampoo. Rice baggy before going to sleep for 20 mins. Wet towel over my eyes to sleep. Gel drops for the night.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. I’m sorry if you read this and are a worse sufferer and think how lucky I am my symptoms are only those. I have unending respect now for everyone suffering eye pain. I just wanted to share my experience to connect with others.

    If you can, please leave me messages that you went through the same and are okay now. Please tell me Restasis worked for you and how long it took. Please tell me that you know of other people who turned worse after 3 months and eventually got better. If you have any tips of things I should try to find relief, please tell me too. I also fear the Lasik guy will want to plug me on our next appointment, would you guys recommend it or not since I’ll still be on Restasis? If you can just leave some words to encourage me, I would also deeply appreciate it. I will read them again and again when the hour will be dark, and your kind words will be like stars in the sky.

    Thank you. I hope to share with you a success story before the year is over.

  • #2
    Marianne, I have just found this post and through the tears I can't believe how what you have been through reverberates so similarly even though my situation was caused by permanent eyeliner (I know....NOW.....what a ridiculous thing to do!). Two weeks after this procedure I developed intense burning in both eyes and having never even heard of dry eyes before was stressed beyond belief about what was happening (ended up with horrendous hair loss which I know was due to the stress, like yourself would wake from such longed for sleep with huge anxiety, shaking, sweating). The whole reason for undergoing the procedure wasn't even vanity, was more convenience, being a super active person who ran daily and loved to swim and had a trip to Rarotonga planned later that year then more travel scheduled for 2016, I just thought, wow, this could free up a few minutes in the morning. My god, what I would give to be able to do my own eyeliner again, actually wear makeup again, well can't really dwell on this as in only a small part of what I have lost and wasn't even an inconvenience I know now :/ My once active life has been reduced to a shell, I wake up, dread the day ahead, grit my teeth and pray I can survive another day at work (lots of computer work), home where can't face the though of eating, my once healthy appetite gone, only relief is hot shower then early to bed praying for a decent night's sleep before it repeats all over again the next day. No more running, no more fitness classes, any physical activity tends to aggravate the eyes. I split from my boyfriend as have no energy to be in a relationship, everything is dominated by this. All my travel plans have gone out the window, and am terrified will end up having to give up my job because of the heavy computer workload. My first visit to optometrist and my TBUT was tested at 3 in each eye, 2 months ago had improved to 7 in each eye but back 2 days ago as could feel eyes had deteriorated and both eyes back to 3. Have now been referred on to opthamologist, waiting for appointment in next few weeks. If it wasn't for the support of my accupuncturist who is the only person who knows the full story, and being able to read other people's stories here on this forum, well, I don't know. At my lowest I want to sleep and never wake up, maybe just stop eating fullstop, is such a lonely thing to live with and like you said, nobody understands the all-consuming pain and also the fear that comes with dry eyes, such a benign sounding condition but nothing could be furtherest from the reality! Would love to get an update from you,but most of all just want to thank you for sharing your story so far x