Eye health is a weird one, I think. You never really pay attention to your eyes, they’re just…there. In your head, letting you see and all that. Then one day something can change, and your eyes are all you can think about.
Last year, I managed to contract an eye disease whilst I was sitting in a hotel near Manchester Airport. I was with all of my family, and we were waiting for our flight, which was booked for the early hours the next morning. I remember talking to my dad, and the next minute my eyesight started fuzzing. My right eye wouldn’t stop twitching and I felt really faint. I thought it was down to tiredness and went to bed early.
Two weeks later, a small red line started to appear on the white of my right eye. Again, I thought nothing of it. I imagined it was bloodshot and carried on. But then the migraines started. Dull at first, and then debilitating. I had just started my new job, and I couldn’t even see my screen in front of me without struggling. I tried everything to relieve the pain, compresses, tablets, exercises and massages. But the migraines got worse. In the end, I scheduled an appointment at my opticians. After around 20 minutes, my optician was baffled. He imagined it was just an issue I had with migraines. which caused the redness in my eye. So, I had resigned myself to the fact that this was just temporary.
After coping with the issue for a further two weeks, my eye had swollen so much that my lid had nearly closed, and all of the white in my eye was bloodshot red. But, because I’m an idiot, I carried on ignoring the situation until it would hopefully go away. It didn’t.
One day in work, I broke down. I couldn’t see, my temple was throbbing and I hadn’t slept in 2 days thanks to the migraines. I went to A&E, who then sent me to the eye hospital in St Helens. I was given X-Rays, MRI scans and had to see an Arthritis Specialist in order to see what was causing the issue. I saw around 12 doctors, 11 of which didn’t know what to do with me. I had lost everything I liked about myself. I couldn’t apply makeup because if I got mascara in my eye I would be in total pain, I couldn’t see my friends because I was embarrassed by how I looked, and I couldn’t even go outside. Even if it was slightly bright, I would get shooting pains in my eye until I was back in total darkness. I felt like a turdburger.
Then one doctor figured it out, I had Scleritis and Uveitis. Scleritis is a disease which affects the whites of your eye. It usually affects older women with connective tissue disorders, which is why they didn’t figure it out. Since the disease is usually related to other issues in the body, I had to have a range of blood tests to determine what else was going on, something they couldn’t, and still, haven’t figured out.
As an inflammatory disease, Scleritis can cause severe ocular pain, redness, swelling and a host of other issues. If left too long, it can cause blindness. The doctor who figured out my diagnosis told me it was the worst case of Scleritis she had ever seen, and that I was lucky if I kept my sight, and that if I didn’t react to treatment, I would be placed on a type of chemotherapy.
Thoroughly thrilled by the prospect of that, I was given a 12-week dose of strong steroids, which caused a host of other issues for me. I gained 2 stone, had a giant moon face and, if I fell or cut myself by accident, nothing would heal. I still have scars caused by tiny accidents that just didn’t heal. Even after my tablets, I wasn’t okay. I had to carry on taking drops and anti-inflammatory tablets. After 8 months of the entire process, my issues seemed to clear, and I was discharged from the hospital. I have a permanent red line in my right eye now, but I’d rather have a red line than a loss of my eyesight.
If you have issues with your sight, no matter how small, please get it checked out. My issues started with a twitch and got progressively worse. And, always seek a second opinion. I wish I never took my optician’s word as gospel when I was in so much pain. I wonder if I would ever have been put on steroids if I got my eye looked at sooner. I definitely wouldn’t be dealing with the ramifications of the steroids if I just went to the doctors in the first place.