Monday, November 29, 2010

The eyes have it

Warning - unsettling photograph below. Do not scroll down if you are squeamish. Or eating your breakfast whilst surfing the net, which is pretty damned decadent if you ask me. I mean, there you are, laptop or ipad propped up against the cornflakes box, dribbling milk from your spoon onto your tie, or that blouse you picked out special for work, checking on your emails, twitting or just generally immersing yourself in the whole out there, when you should be talking to your children about school, discussing with your significant other what you might do in the evening, taking the dogs for a walk or giving the cat a cuddle. What's so important on the interweb it has to be looked at now? Go on, switch off your computer and get a life.

All of which rather strays from the topic, and is perhaps not the best way to start a blog post. But if you're still here, then you've only yourself to blame.

I've written in the past about the problems I've had with my eyes. I think it all stems from when I was a spotty teenager,* and our local optician prescribed me some contact lenses you could apparently wear for a month without taking out, cleaning, or doing anything with at all. These were great, as I was obviously far too busy being an angst-ridden adolescent to bother with any of that malarky. In on the first of the month, out at the end. Give them a quick clean and straight back in again. It's possible I was meant to have a couple of days off, and I may even have remembered to do that from time to time, but generally I was a teenage boy, so I did what I thought was right, not what I'd been told.

I can't remember how long I had those lenses, or the monthly disposable ones that followed. All in all though, I'd been wearing contacts of one sort or another for probably ten years when I got my first stye. Such was the horror of the removal procedure, I gave up wearing lenses for another ten years, possibly longer. Nowadays I wear them only for sport where glasses are simply impractical, otherwise I'm done with shoving plastic in my eye.

But the damage was done, all those years ago. My eyelids in particular are very prone to inflammation. My tear ducts don't work as well as they could.** I've noticed over the years that as my stress levels rise, so my eyes become drier and more irritable. And every so often, this happens.

stretch marks due to pulling eye upwards 
to reveal nastiness, not ageing.

Well, don't say you weren't warned. And I hope I've put enough text above the picture that you don't see it without scrolling down the page. If you're one of those flash bastards (like me) who has an enormous monitor (and no, that's not a euphemism - although it could be), you may have seen the photo before reading the warning at the top of this post, but that's what you get for showing off.

This is swelling of the upper eyelid due to a blocked pore - another common problem when your tear ducts have been removed by life's harsh cruelty. It's essentially a zit on the eyelid, an ocular plook. Doctors are generally unhelpful when you take such squeam-inducing symptoms to them, but I have over the years gleaned enough information to self-treat. Essentially this involves the regular application of heat to the eyelid. You can use the back of a teaspoon dipped into boiled water that's been allowed to cool a little. Alternatively, if your hot water tap is scalding, then a clean flannel soaked in very hot water can then be pressed against the affected area. The idea is to apply as much heat as you can stand without actually damaging yourself, stimulating blood-flow and opening up the various pores and capillaries to clear the blockage. With the teaspoon method, you can also gently rub the area to try and get things moving.

You'll know when you've succeeded because, like a plook anywhere else on your visage, it will burst, loosing out copious amounts of unpleasant yellow fluid into your eye. Once the blockage had been cleared, it's essential to continue with the treatment until the eyelid has healed up properly, or it will just block up again. Failure to clear it completely will lead eventually to the formation of a hard lump in the eyelid that can only be removed by surgery. Some of you will have read already my thoughts about this, but it's not something I'd recommend.

In two weeks time, I will be skiing. This is one of the few sporting activities I do that I can't do without wearing contact lenses. Yes, you can get ski goggles that have prescription lenses fitted, but I haven't, and it's too late to get them made up now. This particular eyelid unpleasantness only showed up recently, so I need to get it sorted soon. I only hope I don't end up like last year, having to have surgery to remove the last stubborn vestiges.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to burst a zit.

* actually, as a teenager I was relatively acne-free. That didn't stop me agonising about every zit, spot and pimple, and spending a fortune of my parents' money on skin treatments. Something called Moncla Derma (although that may not be the right spelling - it was a very long time ago) was my preferred choice, and it's a testament to the vanity of the average teenage boy that I was prepared to go through the three-stage washing and primping ritual twice a day. I had great skin as a boy, though. Shame about it now, and of course I really should have been putting all that effort into keeping my eyes clean.
** cold, heartless, unemotional bastard that I am.

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Anonymous Ellen said...

Lovely photo. My youngest child has been going round and round with styes since she had conjunctivitis last spring. It's very hard to convince her that a hot cloth is the way to go--perhaps she will find the teaspoon a more entertaining option to try! (It's difficult to understand the workings of a 5-year-old's mind.)

November 29, 2010 10:21 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Very difficult, Ellen. But she has my sympathies. Conjunctivitis isn't much fun, and styes are even less so. Heat does seem to be the best answer, though. I've tried drops and ointments and they just seem to gum everything up more.

December 02, 2010 5:52 pm  

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