If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow my social media accounts, you might have wondered where I’ve been. The lack of updates might suggest that I fell off the face of the planet for a while there. Well, something kind of major happened to me back in June. I accidentally got chemical burns in BOTH of my eyes (as if anyone would do that on purpose 🤦🏻♀️) and it has taken this long for me to recuperate.
From Minor Irritation to Major Emergency
So what happened? It was a pretty random thing actually. After months of personal neglect during Shelter in Place, I forced myself to dress up nicely, put in contacts, and apply some makeup for a meeting I had on Zoom. That in itself was fine.
But, that evening my eyes became very irritated. I used some Bausch & Lomb Renu rewetting drops in case the irritation was from dryness. That didn’t seem to help and then I figured the itchy eyes was probably due to seasonal allergies. When my Zoom meeting was over, I took off my contacts and used some Naphcon-A allergy eyedrops.
My eyes continued to bother me so I decided to remove my makeup in case I needed to rub my eyes. I used a Neutrogena makeup removal wipe to take off my makeup but somehow got the solution in both of my eyes… and it started to BURN!
I tried to flush my eyes out with water but that just seemed to make it worse. Now, I have been using all of these products for years and never had a problem. With the way my eyes are, I never get a good seal when I close my eyes and sometimes stuff gets in them. But, it doesn’t usually bother me too much as long as I’m careful. This time was different, though.
Thinking that this was part of the irritation from earlier, I flushed my eyes a bit more and hoped it would be better in the morning. Oh how wrong I was…
Chemical Burns — Layers and Layers of Damage
In the morning, I couldn’t open my eyes at all. When I did pry them open, bucketfuls of tears came gushing out. I urgently shook Frans awake and asked him to help me contact the doctor. We were able to make an emergency appointment with an ophthalmologist and he called me over the phone to assess the situation. After relating what happened, the eye doctor was sure that it was chemical burns and told me to come in immediately.
As it turns out, I did in fact have severe chemical burns in both of my eyes and several layers were burned through. Fortunately, the eye doctor said that it didn’t go so super deep that it caused permanent damage.
According to the ophthalmologist, the chemical burns were likely due to a number of factors. Since my eyes were already irritated, it was possible that I had some abrasions on my eyes. Then, the allergy eyedrops and the solution from the makeup remover wipes both got in those abrasions.
That might have been what caused the adverse chemical reaction. Neither of the eyedrops nor the wipes should have inflicted this extent of damage (or any at all) on their own. Rather, it was a combination of these all getting into irritated eyes. Well, the doctor seemed to be pretty anti-makeup remover in general but that’s another issue.
It took two hours for the nurse to flush my eyes out with saline. She had to alternate eyes as they needed to use a device to keep my eye open and that hurt after a while. Several bottles of salines and numerous numbing drops later, I was able to finally open my eyes comfortably. Even then, there was still some traces of chemical left.
The ophthalmologist sent me home with a few prescriptions, detailed instructions, and a groovy tinted insert for my glasses. He warned me about increased sensitivity to light and he wasn’t kidding. I pretty much had to live in the dark for the rest of that week. Even with my eyes closed most of the time, even smallest bit of light in my room caused discomfort. Frans and Munchkin were so accommodating in turning off lights in any room I was in and guiding me to the restroom when needed.
Without being able to see, though, I was sooooooooo bored!!!! I could only sleep so much and keeping my eyes closed meant no watching movies, reading, doing things around the apartment, or playing games. Even if I wanted to listen to music or audio programs, I couldn’t because I would need to look at the screen to select the apps! My heart really goes out those who have heavily impaired sight!
Chemical Eye Burns — Long Road to Recovery
For the next several days and then weeks, I had to get regular checkups. The eye doctor prescribed antibiotic as well as anti-inflammatory eyedrops. Once the wound closed on one eye and I finished the antibiotics, the doctor wanted me to use steroid eyedrops to speed up the healing process. He explained that they don’t usually use steroids on open wounds but that doesn’t apply the eye damage is caused by a chemical burn.
Eight appointments and two months later, my eyes were finally healing well. My vision was slowly getting back to normal and, for the most part, my eyes were healthy again. There was some haze left but that would clear in time.
A side effect of using the steroid eyedrops is increased eye pressure, which can later lead to glaucoma. Of course, I had to experience this as well. So, even after I stopped using the steroid eyedrops, I had to continue using some eyedrops to control eye pressure. The doctor asked me to use these for the next two months since it was needed to temper my eye pressure as the effects of the steroids wore off.
Healing From Chemical Burns in Both Eyes
So now I’m FINALLY better. My prescription has changed so I need to get new glasses and contacts. I also notice that my eyelids are more prone to swelling, which could be a result of some allergy issue due to the steroids. But, that’s about the extent of the lasting effects. Well, that and the fact that the difficulty of adjusting from near to far has sped up. Yep, that means bifocals are in my very near future. Man, I feel so super old now when I’m constantly sliding my glasses on and off to see or when I have to hold things really far away from my eyes to read.
Whew! What an ordeal. I guess the moral of the story is don’t get ANY thing in eyes and, if there’s even the slightest irritation, see a doctor immediately. Those warning labels are not just there for fun. I found that out the hard way 😱