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A woman is surrounded by eye drops and flames. She pats under her eye with a tissue.

Eye Drops or No Eye Drops? A Dry Eye Dilemma

“Your eyes are extremely dry. Can you feel how dry they are?” My regular eye doctor asked me during a follow-up visit with her two months after I was diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED).

I did not know how to respond to her question. Over the last few weeks, I had developed double vision that would make reading very difficult and made people appear to have four eyes, swelling that restricted my left eye from moving up, and light sensitivity so bad that I wore sunglasses inside. I was too overwhelmed by the changes caused by TED to notice how dry my eyes felt.

Processing my doctor's recommendation

I answered her question with a shrug and a nervous head shake. I felt guilty for not noticing how dry my eyes had become. Should I have felt this before my eye doctor told me?

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“Use eye drops as often as you can,” she told me. “And be aware of your far-away vision too. If words are blurry next time you read a menu from a distance like at a fast food place or something, let me know. It could be because of how dry your eyes are.”

Before getting TED, I hated the feeling of anything in or around my eyes. I was obsessed with rubbing my eyes because I wanted the uncomfortable feeling of an eyelash falling or a small speck of something in my eye to go away as fast as possible. Needless to say, putting eye drops in my eye for something I had a hard time feeling was going to be a challenge for me.

My new eye drops routine for dry eyes from thyroid eye disease

Overnight, I went from never using eye drops in my eyes to using them constantly. Well, it felt like I was doing it constantly when in reality it was more like a couple of times a day.

I was using them in the morning, mid-morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and evening. At home, at the store, on vacation, in the car, in my room. While watching TV, on my computer, and when writing in my notebook. When my eyes were irritated, light sensitive, and/or experiencing double vision.

What no one told me was after putting eye drops in, I needed to pat my eyes with a tissue to get off any remaining gunk from the eye drop liquid. So I was walking around with not only extremely dry eyes but with gunk all over my eyelashes the majority of the time.

Were they helping?

Every time I would have an appointment with one of my eye doctors, I would be told my eyes were still extremely dry. Over a few months, I began using it less and less because I was told what I was trying to do wasn’t working. Why put myself through this if I was getting no results?

During my last eye appointment with my regular eye doctor in the spring, I was told my eyes are still dry but not nearly as dry as they were. I was advised to get a routine of putting eye drops in. One drop in both eyes, three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening.

I’ve slowly gotten into the habit of putting in eye drops again. And the crazy part is I can actually feel a difference in my eyes when I use them! It took years of using them to finally notice a difference. I just had to get past experiencing the majority of my TED symptoms to be able to focus on my dry eyes properly.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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