My Journey With Allergies and Dry Eye
Eye issues are something I have dealt with for as long as I can remember. At the very least, since I was in 5th grade, my vision started to decline. However, because I also deal with atopic dermatitis and allergies, I was not diagnosed with chronic dry eye until just a few years ago.
In fact, I didn't even know that chronic dry eye was a diagnosable chronic health condition. There wasn't much awareness around it until recently.
A long road to chronic dry eye diagnosis
My journey with eczema and allergies dates back to my childhood. These are conditions I've dealt with my whole life. Following the other diagnoses, I also discovered I was near-sighted in 5th grade. So, I just got used to the fact I would always have to wear contacts or glasses. However, I never realized how connected all 3 of these issues are until I started the process of TSW (topical steroid withdrawal).
Topical steroid withdrawal complications
In 2014, I started topical steroid withdrawal. As my skin worsened, so did my eyes. Interestingly, I also developed new allergies during this time. I went through a period of being completely bedridden for about 6 years. My body looked and felt like I had third-degree burns from head to toe.
Vision and eye problems
During this time, because my eyelids were affected as well, my eyes started to get worse, too. I thought I had itchy and irritated eyes from my skin or allergies and waited it out for a while. But then I started to lose vision in my right eye - fast. And it was one of the most terrifying experiences I've had.
After my eye-related diagnoses
Finally, after some time searching, I found an incredible doctor. I was diagnosed with keratoconus, corneal scarring, and dry eye. Until this, I had no idea any of these even existed, to be honest. Over the years and throughout my life, I had conjunctivitis quite a bit, so I was familiar with that. But I always assumed it was just from my allergies and skin. And although they are all connected, I've learned that dry eye is different.
How I remedy my vision
Thankfully, since being diagnosed, I hardly get conjunctivitis. I wear a scleral lens in my right eye, which improves my vision drastically. I also have to use a microwavable eye mask to stimulate the glands in my eyes to produce moisture and supplement with lubricant eye drops daily.
While doing all of this is extremely frustrating and time-consuming, keeping up with my dry eye treatment has also reduced instances of conjunctivitis.
Allergies and dry eye are interconnected
These conditions are interconnected, and it's hard to tell what's what sometimes. But by learning more about the health conditions I experience and being part of supportive condition-specific communities, it's much easier to make sense of things and learn what works best for me.
We are all different, and sometimes it can take a lot of trial and error to find what works, but it's definitely worth it in the end!
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