Tag Archive | Dry Eyes

Tears

I know we all cry at some point in our lives. It may be that we are lonely, depressed, frustrated or we don’t even know the reason. As you cry your tears stream down your face and you try to hide them.

Many of us can’t do that. I’m not talking about hiding them. I’m talking about crying. We may have those feelings but no matter how hard we try we just can’t cry. Our eyes do not produce tears. You may wonder what is so bad about that… Those if us with Sjogrens wish that we could cry.

When my grandma passed away I couldn’t cry. I felt the same sadness, but the tears wouldn’t come. At the time I didn’t know about Sjogrens. I thought that something was terribly wrong with me that I couldn’t cry.

Yesterday was not the best day for me. No matter how positive I am about my illnesses and my life I still have my bad days. Yes, I was crying last night… It was only out of one eye. The one that still produces some tears. It’s things like that make you step back and realize that you are different. This is my life and the only one I know.

Tear Duct Plugs

There has been a lot of talk about the tear duct plugs (Punctal Plugs) lately and I had meant to do this post weeks ago. It’s been sitting in my drafts so I figured this was a good time to go about it.

When my doctor first started talking to me about the plugs I couldn’t figure out why in the world I would want them. All my life I had thought the tear ducts is where the tears came from. So why would I want to dam them up if my eyes were already dry? LOL! It turns out that I had an incorrect understanding of what they really did. From what I have heard from others they thought the same thing so I don’t feel as dumb for thinking that now. 🙂

What the tear ducts actually do is let your tears drain into your nose. You have these ducts on the upper and lower lids. Most doctors start out putting the plugs in the lower eyes first. Your first set will dissolve in a week or two. They are supposed to last about two weeks, but they tend to not last as long for those of us with really dry eyes. These are the test plugs to see how you will adjust and if they work for you. They are not as expensive as the silicone plugs.

If the first set of plugs work then you move on to the next step. The silicone plugs. They come in different sizes and your doctor will try to pick the size that is right for you. I think they look like little tiny nails. It just takes a few minutes. He put some numbing drops in my eyes and popped them in. No pain at all.

I have really small ducts so my doctor tried the smallest size first. These irritated my eyes really bad and I was worried that I was going to have to deal with it or not use them. They kept sliding up out of my duct and I was constantly pushing them back in. They were rubbing on my eye and creating more problems. After about two weeks they both fell out.

I went back to discuss what we should do next. He wanted to put the next size up in. I was weary since the other ones rubbed my eyes so much. My thought was that if the small ones rubbed my eyes with that tiny little nail head wouldn’t the bigger ones be worse? He gave me the option of using the ones that go further down with out the nail head end. The problem with those is that if they bother you or you get an infection they are harder to get out and they can slide down further into the duct. I decided to try out the larger size.

The larger size is great. I realized that with the smaller ones the irritation was caused by them sliding out of the tear duct and rubbing on my eye. The larger ones stay in place and I can’t even tell that they are there! I do have to be careful since I tend to rub my eyes a lot. I check multiple times a day to make sure they are still there. My OCD on checking on them is getting better the longer they are in. I’m only checking on them a few times a day now. 🙂

For the first time in I don’t know how long I had glossy eyes! It was amazing. I was so bad at using eye drops. I was so used to the dry gritty feeling and just going on with my day. When I had the first plugs inserted the doctor told me I had an eye lash in my eye. He was like, “Don’t you feel it???” Ummm… no, my eyes always feel like that. I never know if I really have something in my eye or if it’s just the dryness. For the most part that feeling is finally gone! When I’m in a flare I do use the gel at night if I wake up and my lids are glued to my eyeball. If that happens for a night or two then I will just put the drops in before I go to sleep to avoid being woken up by it.

If you are still having issues with some dryness they can try putting plugs in the upper ducts also. I have decided to wait on that since I am doing OK with just the bottom ones. The day I had the Schirmer test my left eye was at 3 and my right eye was at 7. Dry, but not at 0.

The plugs do fall out over time. It is normal. You can decide to have your ducts cauterised later if you think it’s a pain in the neck going back to get new plugs put in. So far my second set hasn’t thought about falling out. I like the idea of know that they can be taken out if I want. Cauterizing will be a last chance, final choice if nothing else is working.

Well, that’s a little bit about the plugs with my story tossed in. If I had known someone who had the ducts when I went in I would have felt more comfortable making the decisions. Especially when I was trying to decide on getting the next size up or not. I hope in some way this helps someone else out there that is trying to decide what to do.

Have a wonderful day today!!!

World Sjogren’s Day

Today is World Sjogren’s Day! Please take the time to learn about Sjogren’s Syndrome. There is a chance that someone you know has it and has not been diagnosed with it. It takes an average of 7 years to be diagnosed. In the meantime you are going from doctor to doctor and eventually you start to think you may be a little crazy and the doctors are looking at you like you are! It’s frustrating when you can’t figure out what is wrong when you know something IS wrong!!!

Finding out that I had Sjogren’s was a relief at first. I finally knew that I wasn’t crazy! There was something wrong with me! Then my next thought was “Huh… I don’t think I’m supposed to be happy about this!” The good thing is that most of the symptoms can be treated. You just have to keep trying until you find the correct treatment for you. When it comes to Sjogren’s no one is ever the same. What is true for you may not be true for someone else. It takes much trial and error, but there is hope.

If you think you or someone you know might have Sjogren’s then please look into it further. It could change their life to finally know what is wrong with them and be able to start a treatment plan that will help them.

Check out Defy the Dry and the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation to learn more!

 

Favorites

Here are a few of my favorite everyday items that I use.

Since Sjogren’s pretty much makes your body shrivel up you have to fight it! LOL! One of my problems is a very dry mouth. Since I don’t produce the saliva needed I have trouble eating and swallowing. I drink a lot to try to relieve the dryness. I have a hard time with anything that is spicy since I don’t have anything to wash it away. This also means tooth paste and mouth wash. Regular toothpaste and mouthwash makes my mouth hurt so bad that I can’t use them at all. Most people get a minty fresh feeling after using them. For me my mouth is in pain and it’s almost like a very sour taste. Sour does not = a fresh mouth at all!

I was using a Biotene Mouthwash. It did an OK job. Recently ACT came out with a new Total Care Rinse for Dry Mouth. It also has fluoride in it to help with my teeth. The ACT tastes great and even leaves my mouth feeling moist for a little bit.

ACT Total Care Rinse for Dry Mouth

Since we don’t produce saliva correctly we don’t have anything to wash away the food in our mouths. Many Sjogren’s patients have bad teeth due to this. So far I have been lucky. From reading it seems that most of them really start having problems in their late 30’s to 40’s. I’m trying my best to keep my teeth! 🙂

My toothpaste of choice is Biotene. It is a dry mouth toothpaste. They came out with the Gentle Mint Gel. This is the one that leaves my mouth feeling the freshest. They have one or two other flavors, but they tend to leave me feeling like I didn’t brush my teeth. Again, this toothpaste doesn’t burn my mouth!

Biotene

Dry eyes are another huge problem. I have to put drops in everyday. My eyes always feel like something is in them. Without the moisture in them the lid just rubs on the eye and can be very painful and if you don’t use drops it can cause damage to your eye. My eyes aren’t as bad as they can be yet. My left eye produces almost no tears at all. My right eye produces a little more, but not much more.

Night time is always hard. More so when I am in a flare. I wake up multiple times a night with my eyelids stuck to my eye. I have to pry them open and put in my gel. The GenTeal Severe Dry Eye Relief is what I have been using. Since I started using it I don’t wake up as often. It does make it a little hard to see so if you play Solitaire on your phone to fall asleep like me you might want to wait to put it in. 🙂

GenTeal Gel

During the day I use Refresh Optive. It feels good on my eyes and it doesn’t burn them. Some of the drops out there burn a little when I put them in.

Refresh Optive

Dry skin is another problem. All of our moisture glands are messed up! Our bodies attack them. I’ve tried explaining to my body that I need those moisture glands, but it just doesn’t get it. Oh well, what’s a girl to do?

On that thought. My face is very sensitive. I’m allergic to many lotions and most of the other ones make me break out like a teenager!  For the breakouts I use Fincea. It works great and doesn’t over dry my skin out. Back to lotions… My daytime lotion of choice is Aveeno Ultra Calming Moisturizer with SPF 15. I have tried others but I start breaking out right away. This one helps me get through the dry times. This past winter I didn’t have any painful dry spots on my face.

Aveeno Ultra Calming Moisturizer

At night I use Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream. This makes my face feel great! I noticed a difference after a few weeks. My skin was softer and looked much smoother. It says to use it day and night, but it doesn’t have SPF in it so I still use the Aveeno during the day.

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel

At night I also put petroleum jelly all around my eyes. It helps keep in the moisture better at night. It also moisturizes around your eyes.

Petroleum Jelly

That’s all for now. If you have a great product that you us let me know. I’m always willing to try out something different if it will be a bigger improvement! I’m always looking for ways to “Defy the Dry”!

Q-tip Basket

I recently had to start doing eye cleanses which involves dipping q-tips in a baby shampoo/water mixture and rubbing it on the edges of my eyelids. The joy of dry eyes! This is supposed to help my eyes and help my brand new plugs in my eye ducts. By the way, I love the new set. The first plugs were too small and kept popping up and I was pushing them back in all day and they rubbed on my eyelids. After a week of that they fell out on their own. The new ones are the next size up and they stay in! I can’t even tell that they are there. I even have tears in my eyes now! My eye drop usage had dropped greatly. I’m not waking up 4 or more times a night to put drops in my eyes! Yippy!

Q-tip Basket

OK, my dry eye rant/celebrations is over. Back to my regularly scheduled post on my q-tip basket! So, like I said I have had to use large amounts of q-tips and to tell you the truth… I’m lazy. I like things to be easy. My q-tips belong in the cabinet in their original packaging. Well, after a few days that package then belonged on the counter. I got tired of seeing it on my counter and having to open the little flap to get inside and try to pull a q-tip out. That is when I began dreaming of something to hold my q-tips on my counter that was cute and of course handmade. Here is my nifty q-tip basket!!!

This is part of a set that can be made. I made the large one and decided to fold it. I’m not sure as to what the height ended up being. I just made it taller than the q-tips and on the fold I crocheted in the front loop only for that round. This was an easy and fun project to work on.

Have a wonderful night!

I found this patter on Raverly: Vanity Basket Trio by Julia Kroyan