Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Tale of Two Eyes

Yet again, I am reminded of the power and value of a good therapist. Just left Dr. P's office and am feeling way more positive, relaxed, and capable than I did when I walked in. Of course, it took me sobbing on her couch for the first thirty minutes, but hey! I'm feeling better now, so it must have worked.

Without getting into all the details of the session, which would be boring for you and emotionally draining for me and probably not very productive for either of us, I want to (re)tell a story that should give everyone some perspective and a ton of hope: The Story of Kaylee's Eyeballs.


For anyone who has been reading for a while, this will be some old news. Once upon a time in the summer of 2010 (post-freshman year of college), I was semi-restricting, overexercising, and not having periods. I started having burning in my eyes, which were red and bloodshot. I went to the doctor, who diagnosed corneal ulcers (ewww ouchies), gave me some antibiotic drops, and sent me on my way. At the two-week follow-up appointment, I was pronounced cured.

Dun dun dun.

Two months later, my eyes were back to burning, red, and painful. By this point, I was dangerously underweight, running miles upon miles every morning, and barely eating. I put off a doctors' appointment because the student health center is STUPID and I didn't feel like dealing with them, even as my eyes got worse and worse. It was allergies, I told myself. Nothing a little Zyrtec and Visine couldn't fix.

Long story short, I ended up at an ophthalmologists' office in University Medical School who diagnosed me with punctate keratitis (MAJOR OUCHIES) caused by severe dry eyes. A three-month course of antibiotics and steroids cleared it up, but I had to switch brands of contact lenses, and started using OTC lubricant drops multiple times a day to keep my eyes from getting too dry.

Over those same three months, I left school (against my will...THANKS MOM AND DAD) and entered treatment for anorexia. I gained XX pounds, up to an almost-weight-restored number, and had one period. My eyes got better.

Then I got back to college, started restricting again, lost most of the weight I'd gained, and didn't have another period for many months. Around the same time (fall 2011), my eyes started hurting again.

I spent the next year bouncing from one eye doctor to the next, using multiple courses of antibiotics, steroids, anti-inflammatories, lubricants, etc. etc. etc. Between Home City and College City, I saw six different ophthalmologists. My father even solicited (unhelpful but well-intentioned) advice from his brother, who is a gastroenterologist but nonetheless gets consulted on every family medical issue.

Meanwhile, my quality of life pretty much sucked due to my eyes. I couldn't read for very long because they hurt so much. I limited computer time to about 20 minutes at a stretch. In spring 2012, I stopped driving for a while because I was afraid my eye would give out and I'd crash. My then-therapist Dr. R once asked me during a particularly, um, emotional session: "Do you ever find it ironic that you're crying about dry eyes?" #notamused

Finally, I found Dr. Q. Why didn't I find his name sooner, when I was scouring the internet for the most highly respected ophthalmologists? He is one of a two-man team running Major Vision Center in College City, and is nothing short of a genius and miracle-worker. He explained the connections between body fat, hormone levels, nerve sensitivity, and mucous membranes (eww I know, sorry—bear with me) and we found a solution that not only protects my eyes, but allows the underlying nerve damage from chronic dryness to heal.

The catch? Dr. Q reminds me at every visit that the only way to truly protect my eyes is by maintaining a healthy level of body fat and having regular periods. Sound familiar?

In conclusion: My eyes feel perfect. Knock on wood, because I'm still superstitious and paranoid....but 99 percent of the time, I don't even think about them because they don't hurt. They aren't dry. I can't even feel them. Six months ago, I was putting in drops continuously, all day long, just to get by. Probably went through about two boxes of these per week:

I should've bought stock in this stuff

Now, I use MAYBE one drop per day. Seriously. One box lasts forever. My monthly Walgreen's bill has probably been cut by 75%.

So, what was the point of all this, you ask? Well, it was to show you guys (well, to show myself, mostly) that miracles can happen. Healing can happen. It may take time, and a ton of persistence, but it can happen. My eyes feel so good now that I almost can't remember what it was like when they were so bad, but I think I should make myself remember. I need to remember, to show myself how much better things can get. And I need to remember so that I never start thinking to myself: Things weren't THAT bad, right? I could skip my snack just this once...I could lose a few pounds, just so my jeans feel a little looser... and we all know how that ends.


  1. So often we get disappointed and lose hope but you're right, healing can happen and giving up shouldn't be an option

  2. Hi Kaylee! I am so glad I found your blog! You have got some really great stuff here! :)

    I've been a bit underweight for a few years already, but when my beloved pup died in January this year everything got worse. In 3 weeks I lost almost 10% of my weight and from there on it progressed quickly. At first I began having cloudy vision and my fingers and toes were freezing and aching randomly. Then I got the dry eyes, which have been like what feels like a death sentence. I was depressed when my dog died but adding the dry eyes to the equation just made me want to give up.

    I got many other symptoms too but when I realised that my periods had gone missing (last seen in January), I began googling and found interesting information about ed, amenorrhea and dry eyes.

    I realised that I had to become more healthy in several ways, but my main focus has been eating way bigger portions and more often. I've been doing this for 2 months now, and today I think I finally got my period back - yay! Coincidentally I reached the same weight (49kg) I was before all this today too - and I wont stop there this time! I've noticed that my eyes have been a little bit better but still not as good as they used to be, which makes me a bit depressed..

    How long did it take before your eyes got significantly better?

    Hugs, Jennifer

    P.s. Sorry for my bad english, it's not my first or even second language. :)

    1. Hi Jennifer! Sorry for the delay - I'm not on here much anymore! Glad you've been feeling a little better. It took my eyes a while to heal but I was underweight for a long time. Once I started eating enough fat and calories and regained the weight though, they bounced back relatively quickly. It was definitely hormonally related because it wasn't until after my periods regulated that I really started seeing improvements....probably within the year after getting to a healthy weight. Hope this helps!