Obscure dry eyes disease?
April 8, 2008 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Oh my eyes!... for the past two years I've had tired dry eyes and consulted three "expert" ophtalmologist who haven't found an explanation. It's not dry eye (tear volume is low but normal), an allergy (checked for that), blepharities or a Thyroid problem... maybe something in the cornea but I really don't know how to proceed, please help!

I've tried night gels, all kinds of drops, sleeping with a mask, etc, etc... The only thing that "cured me" for a while was Tobradex but it is a steroid drop so I've been prohibited by all of the ophtalmologists to take them any longer.

In addition to this I should mention that my face and mouth have been drier this two last years. It's supposedly not Sjogren's either.

The last specialist said that she could see "canals" in my cornea that were channeling the tears away so it would feel dry even when I have normal tear flow (and punctual plugs inserted).

I really don't know what else to do? any tips? Do you have a real specialist to suggest?
posted by Manouk to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My eye doc told me that she's seen a steady increase in the number of patients complaining about constant, dry, irritated eyes that are otherwise healthy. She said her research indicates it's the result of more people spending umpteen hours staring into computer screens. She suggested a steady diet of gel drops for my eyes. YMMV.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:21 PM on April 8, 2008

Have you talked to your opthamologist(s) about getting tear duct plugs placed in the lower duct holes (or even the upper and lower duct holes)? This is often done in the aftermath of laser eye surgery in order to keep the eyes wet (so that the corneas heal slowly and one gets the full effect of the reshaping).

I know you say that the tear volume is low but within the normal range, but if you do this, the volume will likely increase and you might get some relief.

Also, are there any medications that you are taking? There are some drying effects from anti-depressants, among other medications.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 1:24 PM on April 8, 2008

Response by poster: I had (and still have) tear duct plugs installed in the lower duct holes. It helped for about 3 weeks and then returned.

I've been told about the issue of spending too much time on the computer, but I think my symptoms are abit stronger for that. Specially because sometimes my eyes itch when I wake up and on weekends.

Not taking anti depressants or any other medications.

Anybody tried accupuncture for the eyes?
posted by Manouk at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2008

Have you tried any of the newer spray mists? They're very soothing. I don't have any help to offer in terms of a guess at your diagnosis because it sounds like your doctors have done their best, but you can at least try new things to alleviate your symptoms. Try the spray mists during your waking hours, then sleep with a humidifier during the night, and see if you get any relief.
posted by amyms at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2008

Could you be dehydrated in general? If you don't already drink a lot of water (especially if you do drink a lot of diuretics) now might be a good time to start.
posted by Polychrome at 1:40 PM on April 8, 2008

I've had severe dry eyes for many years; eye drops only helped me for literally the two-seconds immediately following application.

The only remedy I've found (from an Ayurvedic home remedy book) that actually worked for me was to put a glob of castor oil in my eyes every night.
posted by zippity at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2008

I'll throw one out - Could it be ocular rosacea?
posted by adipocere at 3:01 PM on April 8, 2008

Taking fish oil is supposed to help with dry eyes. I suspect it's not all that effective, but it seems harmless so I'm doing it for my own (thyroid-associated) dry eye problem.

I tried a steroid eye drop, using it in only one eye so I could tell whether it really helped, but after a month the other eye seemed a bit better, so I discontinued it. I have Retasis (cyclosporin-containing prescription eye drops) on hand to test out, but now my eyes are less dry, so I still have not tried it.

Whatever you do, don't get LASIK surgery and don't take Accutane for acne, as both can badly exacerbate dry eye. My dermatologist told me that she had bad dry eyes for six months after her last dose of Accutane.
posted by Ery at 3:07 PM on April 8, 2008

How did they check for the eye allergy in order to rule that out? Your symptoms sound a whole lot like mine which were basically a combo of allergies and computer strain. Patanol drops basically changed my life.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:30 PM on April 8, 2008

Train yourself to blink more often. It worked for me.
posted by fshgrl at 6:02 PM on April 8, 2008

My eye-doctor told me to start taking Flaxseed Oil 2 weeks before and forever after LASIK. I really didn't notice anything different at all until about a month after my surgery when I stopped taking it. My eyes got really dry and itchy, I resumed taking 2000mg a day (1 1000mg geltab with 700mg of omega 3 a day morning and night) and started using Systane once every couple of hours. Hasn't been a problem since.
posted by M Edward at 6:31 PM on April 8, 2008

I don't know how likely it is that several opthamologists could have missed this, but I suppose stranger things have happened. I had dry eyes for years before being diagnosed with pterygia in both eyes (even though I have none of the risk factors for pterygia). They didn't become visible (and still aren't visible unless someone looks very closely) until I helped a friend clean an entire very dusty, messy house, but I believe they were affecting me long before that.

Also, even though you say you don't have allergies, I wonder. I didn't think I have allergies, either, but apparently I do. I have found that Zatidor eye drops help my eyes quite a bit. I've tried every other eye drop on the market so far (including Restasis), and none of them helped more than a few minutes. But Zatidor does help significantly - they are actually antihistamines for the eyes. Another thing that helped this was washing my pillows regularly and getting rid of a down pillow - that was after I read how much dust mites affect allergies.
posted by onemorething at 6:57 PM on April 8, 2008

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