Dry eye can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Untreated, it can turn into a chronic condition. For Dr. Todd Telle, the onset was quick. The symptoms and complications were challenging for this San Diego resident who loves playing tennis, learning the guitar, and traveling abroad.
When I moved from Boston to San Diego five years ago, I noticed that my eyes were more tired in this drier environment. Although I had suffered from dry eye before, I didn't notice any complications until recently.
About a year ago, I woke up one morning and saw that the inner portion of my left eyelid was swollen. It was irritating, but I ignored it. When I looked at my eye later in the day, it still looked fine.
But when I woke up the next day, my entire left eyelid was very swollen. I thought it might be cellulitis, a serious bacterial skin infection. I immediately was scared.
I asked a colleague, who is an eye doctor, to take a look. "I think you have blepharitis," she said.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid. It can cause your eyelids to be red, irritated, and itchy. She said it could happen to anyone, but was especially common for people as they got older—and for people with dry eye.
Because my eyes were quite swollen, I was treated with an antibiotic and a steroid ointment.
Within four or five days, the swelling subsided. After that, my doctor told me to put warm compresses on my eyes twice a day and to keep my eyes completely clean.
Now, using a warm compress over my eyes every evening for about 10 minutes is part of my routine, just like brushing my teeth. If I do miss a day or two, my left eye is a little more swollen. I recommend that anyone suffering from any type of serious eye irritation or dry eye—especially chronic dry eye—get in touch with an eye doctor. Don't wait until the condition gets worse.