Friday, May 2, 2008

Cowgirls Get Dust in the Eyes

I have a malformed tear duct in my left eye that prevents my eye from being able to naturally wash away foreign particles. I've been getting eye infections in it for as long as I can remember. I used to stay home from work when I had any kind of eye infection because people were so fearful that I was spreading around conjunctivitis. However, eventually I was getting the eye infections so often that I couldn't afford to miss all that work. So, I went into the office and wore dark sunglasses or an eye patch. If someone realized I had an infection, I assured them it was not conjunctivitis and that I'm very careful not to touch my eye and then touch other things.

I avoid coughers and sneezers like the plague, because if they don't cover their mouths and just a tiny bit of that spittle gets into my left eye when I walk through their virus cloud, I am guaranteed a head-cold complete with red, itchy, dripping eye, earaches, toothaches, headaches, eye aches -- generally, one huge face ache. Most people can get away with just holding their breath when walking through one of those cough or sneeze clouds, but I also have to close my eyes if I want to avoid contracting the virus.

Years ago I had to spend a week in the hospital due to complications from a surgery. During that time, I managed to pick up a staph infection in that eye. My eye infections progressed from just being a red, itchy eye to having my eyelids swell up, ooze pus, break open, and bleed. At that point I got desperate and started seeing a string of opthamologists, none of whom knew what was going on with me because their receptionists couldn't schedule me in soon enough for them to actually see a full-blown infection. By the time I got in to see the doctors, the infection had healed.

I finally got referred to a doctor an hour and a half drive away who was more diligent and had a chat with his receptionist about getting me in on the very same day that I call. He came to the conclusion that I was suffering from a variety of infections, all caused by my left tear duct not working properly. Though there was no surefire remedy to help me heal faster once I got an infection, there was an easy way to prevent the infections. All I have to do is wash my eyelids and eyeball everyday since my tears can't do it for me.

Pictured are two brands of eyelid cleansers I've been using. Most solutions come in two forms: Pre-moistened, individually wrapped pads and bottles of the cleanser. Eye Scrub attaches two pre-moistened pad packets together, assuming that you are going to clean both eyes. My right eye doesn't need it, as it has never had an infection and the tear duct works fine. I end up ripping the attached pads apart, sometimes ripping the wrapping to both packets, which results in me having to use both pads before they dry out. I understand that the manufacturers of Eye Scrub are trying to encourage people to use one pad for each eye so as not to spread an infection from one eye to the other, but in my case they don't need to worry about it.

OCuSOFT doesn't try to force you to use two pads and has a neat little perforated strip that you can pull off the front of the box to use it as a dispenser. Their pads are a solid cloth and soft, while Eye Scrub's pads are a cotton mesh that you usually have to leave folded in layers to avoid placing your finger directly on the surface of your eye. Of course, there is always the option of using eye drops, but it is much more effective to gently scrub the eye and eyelid.

The products that come in the form of a bottle of cleansing fluid and dry pads are good if you don't want to have to tear a package open each time you perform the task of cleaning an eye. You can remove the cap of the bottle and squeeze your desired amount of fluid onto a pad, giving you more control. However, you usually run out of pads before you run out of fluid, and tissues are not the best items to use as substitute pads since they break apart when wet and leave behind particles in your eye.

While working in the horse stalls cleaning manure, we often have wind blowing through the cracks and stirring up the dust. Considering that some of that dust is probably dried manure or particles of dirt that have been urinated on, I want to make sure that I scrub that eye well. In fact, I noticed a marked increase in my eye infections once I started cleaning stalls ten years ago. I believe my eye was flaring up every 2 to 3 weeks. Now that I'm cleansing my eyelids and eye, I'm down to only 1 to 2 of eye infections a year, and those are my fault because I get busy and forget to clean my eye for a few days. I'm sure that if I were a more diligent patient I could prevent myself from ever getting another eye infection again.

At any rate, I thought I'd mention it, because I had never heard of such a thing as scrubbing your eyelids before my opthamologist mentioned it. I'm sure there are plenty of people who work around animals who struggle with eye infections like me. Here's a solution, and even if you don't get eye infections, these products make the most excellent eye makeup removers.


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Boy do I know how miserable an eye infection is. When I was a kid, I used to get "crusty" eyes. I would wake up with yellow crusts that would almost make it impossible to open my eyes.
My eye doctor suggested scrubbing my eye lashes with No More Tears every night because he suspected a bacterial infection. It worked and and to this day if my eyes get crusty I scrub my eye lashes with baby shampoo.
Take care of those peepers NM...

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for the info - My mom has macular degenerative disease in her eyes, and we're always trying to find ways to clean the crusties. I'll try these.

fvclassic said...

just got back from a qtr horsey show just in time for guests and then a weekend of endurance riding. Ever since my lasik surgery I dont leave home without either of those two eye scrubs.

Good eye :)

gp in montana

enlightenedhorsemanship said...

oh man--I'd be wearing goggles at the barn. sorry to hear that.
with horses who have tear duct problems, and even some people I know, we use a TTouch called raccoon, lightly, just under the duct, on the face. you might try it a few times a day and see if it helps to keep the duct clear. it works for horses who have your problem.
let me know if you would like details.