May is healthy vision month. Taking care of your eyes should be a priority just like eating healthy and exercise. To keep your eyes healthy, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam yearly. I just got mine a couple of weeks ago. I went to my local eye specialist here in Sparta, and, after the normal “Read the letters in this line, etc..” part of the exam, the technician placed drops in my eyes to widen my pupils so the eye doctor could see the back of my eye better to check for vision problems and eye diseases. I had begrudgingly gone to the eye doctor because I thought I had an infection on my lower lid that would not heal. Embarrassingly enough, I hadn’t been to the eye specialist in a couple of years. So, while I was there, they wanted to check all the boxes and make sure everything was going well with my eyes. This part of the story is where it gets really embarrassing for me because as a pharmacist I should know better, but I did not.
Let me elaborate and tell on myself a bit. A few years ago, I decided to treat myself to eyelash extensions. My Daddy had given me a gift certificate to get them done the Christmas before he had passed, and I wanted to take advantage of it before it expired. So just before Christmas of 2018, I had my first set of lashes done. I was in love! They looked so good, and I didn’t need mascara or even eye makeup. I felt glamorous! Well, after that, I went religiously every 3 weeks to have my lashes filled in. I wanted to look that good all the time! I called it my “self care.” Well in 2020, I had to go a couple of months without extensions because of the pandemic, but, when they opened back up, I was first in line! My “lash artist”..yes they are really called that..got pregnant in 2021 and went on maternity leave in the fall of 2021. I did not want to give up my lash habit because of her maternity leave so I looked on-line and found a salon in Cookeville that could fit me in. I began going there, religiously, every three weeks. After the second fill in or so, I developed an infection in my lower eyelid, commonly referred to as a stye. It was really no big deal because it could easily be treated with a warm compress to the eye and moisturizing ointment applied to the lid. It went away quickly, and I thought nothing of it. I began to notice that under my left eye there was more swelling than normal, but it wasn’t uncomfortable - it just looked bad. I thought it was part of getting older. Then the red bump on my lower lid appeared again. I tried treating it with the warm compresses and the ointment, but this time it wouldn’t go away! I even tried prescription topical eye antibiotics to no avail. So I called the eye doctor and thought, knowing my luck, it’s some kind of rare disease. Good news, kind of, it wasn’t, it was a severe infection from my years of lash extensions! I was referred to an eye surgeon in Cookeville the next day where they numbed my eye and dug the infection out while I had to watch the whole thing because I couldn’t close my eyes! It was horrible! Long story short, I won’t be getting lash extensions any time in the future. I have to take an oral antibiotic for a month along with prescription eye ointment daily and I have to wear glasses to protect my eye, but I still have my vision! Yes, it was that serious!
I share my story with you so that you hopefully won’t make the same mistake as me and just brush off eye care. Of course, we all know about cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. But those only happen in old people, right?! I didn’t feel like I fit into that category! Any of those eye disease listed above can occur at any age. That is why a comprehensive eye exam is necessary yearly. There are some things that you can do to help protect your vision like not getting lash extensions, but I digress..other things that normal, sane people, can do are as follows: Know your family’s eye health history so that eye professionals can watch for specifics on yearly exams. Eat right to protect your sight like dark leafy greens and fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon, trout and albacore tuna). Maintain a healthy weight. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports. Quit smoking or never start. Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent or more of UVA and UVB radiation. Wash your hands before taking out your contacts and cleanse your contacts properly to avoid infection. Finally practice workplace eye safety, like wearing protective glasses when working with objects that can get in the eye.
If you have any questions regarding eye health or want some recommendations on eye vitamin supplements, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Payless Family Pharmacy or Beth at Sparta Drug Center. I hope you have a wonderful week!
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