No More Tears

I had an “attack” this weekend, if you will, of dry, scaly, puffy eyes. I should have taken a picture so I could post it here and show you. Unfortunately, vanity prevailed and I shyed away from cameras.

This sort of thing happens to me from time to time — so rarely that every time it happens I forget what it is and start treating it the wrong way. So when the skin beneath both my eyes started to puff up and dry out last week, I started treating the area with Eucerin…first nightly, and then three or so times during the day. It only got worse. And then, as we were driving out of town on the way to Newport News, with my eyes all itchy and skin-pully, I remembered my Dad’s warning.

Dad had some trouble with his eyes once, and our very knowledgeable opthamologist told him that sometimes contact-wearers can suffer from mild infections (especially in Spring, when the pollen is high). This manifests itself as very bad dry skin on the upper eyelid and/or lower eyelid. The knee-jerk reaction is to treat the dryness. What you should REALLY be treating is the infection.

The treatment is simple — I’m going to tell you here and hopefully save a bunch of you contact lens folks from similar fates. Buy a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and use it as an eyewash (“No More Tears”, remember?). Put some on a damp, lukewarm washcloth and scrub (gently, but the best you can) your eyelids, outside–and as much inside as you can tolerate. Then rinse your eyes out with tepid water.

Don’t wear eye makeup, and do this wash as often as you can for a couple of days. Even if you only do it every morning in the shower, you’ll still start to see a difference right away. If, after a couple of days, the skin is still badly chapped, treat it with a very small bit of Vaseline, making sure not to get any in your eye. This is very important. You want to make sure your eye stays clear of gunk.

The pain in the neck part of this is that during this time you should really wear glasses instead of contacts for as long as you can tolerate it — of course, the fact that we don’t like glasses and wear contacts instead is what got us to this point in the first place…

Every time I am forced to wear my eyeglasses out of the house, I have this strange feeling that I’m going to end up lost in the woods and attacked by a bear. To date nothing close to this scenario has happened, but that hasn’t stopped the scene going through my head every time I step out that front door without my contacts in. Catie Murphy–a well-known eyeglass-wearing author who lives in Ireland and hails from the state with a bear (of sorts) on its flag–once asked me if I wouldn’t be more afraid of being lost in the woods without contact solution, or a case, or fresh disposable replacements.

I admit, the though has never crossed my mind. But I still think about that bear. Every time.