Hi, I'm Mark! I'm 26 years old, and I've suffered from severe dry eye symptoms since I was 20. However, with months of dedication, I have improved my symptoms dramatically.
My story definitely wasn't a quick success, it took months of dedication, and lots of hard work, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
Along with finding relief in my dry eye symptoms, I have also improved my energy levels, am in the best physical shape of my life, improved my skin/hair, nails, sleep quality, amongst so many more benefits.
The combination of everything has helped alleviate some anxiety/ depression as well that I know this awful disease can cause.
The end result has me feeling the best I have ever felt, and better than I could have ever imagined feeling a year ago.
I have been suffering from dry eye symptoms since I was 20.
Being the stubborn 20 year old I was, I didn't think it was too big of an issue and didn't do much to help myself. In fact, some nights I would even fall asleep with my dirty contacts in, and not think too much about it. Boy do I ever regret these decisions. I think that if I would have gotten myself into a good dry eye routine from the beginning, my symptoms never would have gotten as bad as they did.
As my glands started to drop out into my early 20's, my symptoms got worse, and worse, and I kept ignoring them. By the time I was 24, I was pulling mucus strings out of my eyes every 10 minutes of the day, couldn't sleep at night due to discomfort, and could barely go into work. Working as a school maintenance/ custodian, the dust/ chemicals always made my symptoms worse, and the job a lot harder.
It was also challenging to maintain any friendships, as I didn't want to go out anywhere as I was always in discomfort.
This disease was literally taking control of my life. I knew I needed to make a change.
When the lock downs were happening in June of 2020, I thought to myself that it would be the perfect time to try and figure out what was going on with my eyes, and work hard to solve the issue.
I told myself that I could not live like this anymore, and I would do whatever it took to get my eyes back to normal.
This is when I made my first appointment with a dry eye specialist.
I'm not going to lie, I went into the appointment anticipating to get a drop that would dissolve my mucus strings, clear my eyes of symptoms, and have everything flowing normally again, within a week.
Little did I know how complex of a job I was dealing with.
On June 21st, 2020, I went to my first appointment.
This was with my dry eye specialist who I still see to this day. This should be the first step in everybody's journey.
When I first got in, he sat me down and ran a variety of tests. One of them included the Lipiview scan which revealed my oil numbers were drastically low. The first scan I had, my oil numbers were at only 18.
Throughout all of the test results, he had diagnosed me with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, Blepharitis, allergies, aqueous deficiency, and low levels of vitamin D.
He recommended warm compresses twice a day for 10 minutes, followed by lid wipes. I also was prescribed Lotemax steroid drops, along with told to use preservative free eye drops when needed. Other things he told me were to take omega 3's daily, vitamin D supplement, and drink lots of water.
When I got home, I was very excited to start my routine, and thought with the combination of everything my symptoms would be cleared up in a week.
So, I went out and purchased the cheapest omega 3's I could find. I can't remember exactly which ones they were, but if I remember correctly, they had a combined 200 mg EPA/DHA from mackerel. Then after huffing and puffing over the prices of a preservative free drop, I bought the cheapest store brand water-based drop, thinking it would do the same thing.
The next day I began my dry eye routine. I performed compresses consistently twice a day for 10 minutes with a rice baggy, followed by lid wipes. Also, as my doctor prescribed, I used Lotemax 3x a day (morning, mid-day , bed), and used my low-grade hydration drops as needed. (which seemed like 100 times a day)
Although feeling some comfort after the compresses, and lid wipes for a week, I still was removing mucous strings frequently throughout the day. Along with this, I was having bad flare-ups, and never really feeling any comfort.
This is what the mucous looked like that I was removing from my eyes
Not being a very patient person, I got very discouraged, and thought this isn't working, and everything is a waste of time and money.
I quit taking my omega 3's, quit the Lotemax as my plan only covered 75%, and wasn't doing compresses as often as should have been.
2 months later I had a checkup. I started getting upset saying nothing worked. My oil levels had no improvement. My doctor said I could benefit from IPL, but I had looked at the cost and thought there was no way I was paying that. After the appointment, I had essentially given up on finding relief for my dry eye symptoms.
It was now late October, and one morning I was scrolling through articles online, and came across one about dry eyes. While reading the article, I came across that in very severe cases of dry eye you can lose vision, and all of your glands. After reading this it scared the crap out of me. My mom has macular degeneration, so I understand how hard it would be to live without vision. I watched her struggle day to day with simple tasks because of this disease. She lost her license, and has a very tough time even watching T.V.
After reading this article, I knew I had to try harder, and everything possible to find relief.
The next day, I started to do my research. I joined Facebook pages which have wonderful communities of people with the same issues. One of the biggest things I also did was give myself a different mindset on the issue. I told myself resolving this issue was a great investment, and tried not to be upset at the cost of helping my health, and protecting my vision. Trust me it is all worth it.
After doing extensive research, and coming across numerous ideas, I had a whole new plan to attack this issue.
I found that most things take at least 3 months of consistent use to notice an improvement and for the treatment to work effectively. Obviously nothing I did was consistent, or for that duration previously.
I also found another useful piece of advice to be that it is a combination of things you have to do to attack your dry eye problems. Not one thing is magically going to fix your problems.
You have to attack the problem from all angles, inside out.
I also found throughout my research that diet/nutrition was a much larger part to this problem than I previously had thought.
There was going to have to be a complete 360 done on my lifestyle, but I was willing to do anything to ensure in keeping my vision, and finding comfort.
This is when I decided to build My Program.
I knew that I needed to stay organized to hit my symptoms from all angles.
I did hours and hours of research from Facebook groups, and online web pages from credible sources, and put together my dry eye daily checklist.
This was an all-around daily plan that included different drops, complete lid hygiene routine, nutrition, supplementation, and treatment options to ensure I was hitting all of my symptoms from the inside out.
After trial and error, extensive research, and hours of work, I put together my program.
After 3 months of doing my daily checklist with Lotemax 3 times/ day as a prescription drop, and Pataday once a day as my allergy prescription drop, my eyes drastically improved.
Now excited for improvement, I went for another checkup with my doctor to check my oil numbers on Lipiview. They went from 18 to 50. I could feel the everyday difference in relief. This is when my dry eye specialist recommended IPL to really bring up those oil numbers. To really get my eyes feeling like normal again, I decided to get the treatment.
After 4 treatments, 3 weeks apart, while continuing my dry eye daily checklist, my Lipiview numbers have now reached 90.
I feel amazing. I'm living life again, and no longer stressed about my eyes flaring up at events. I have whiter, fresher eyes, and more confidence. Along with making my eyes feel 95% better, I am in the best shape of my life due to nutrition and exercise.
I will share with you tips and tricks I used along the way to incorporate into your dry eye routine to benefit your physical health, skincare, and overall lifestyle. I also have the best skin, hair, and nails I've ever had. Your sleep quality will be improved, and you will sleep throughout the night with less disruptions. This will result in you waking up feeling refreshed, and having energy throughout the day to accomplish your goals!
I still follow this routine every day. I have started to drop the Lotemax drops, and am trying to use less over the counter drops throughout the day. Due to all of the benefits I see in changing my nutrition, I think I will always stick with an anti-inflammatory diet! No matter how good my eyes feel, I will also always keep up with my lid hygiene to make sure I keep them healthy, to prevent the symptoms from coming back.
Start your journey to fresher eyes, and a better lifestyle today by visiting My Program
Discover my dry eye journey
Read my story below to find out how I found everyday relief in my dry eye symptoms! The journey wasn't easy, but definitely worth it!
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