My eye is bumming

Something is amiss here.
Something is amiss here.Courtesy Joe Imholte
Ever had a corneal ulcer? Me either, until now. They pretty much are horrible. My eye hurts, I’m super sensitive to light, and I look like death warmed over. Since I have been diagnosed with one (and iritis too) I thought it would be good to learn a little about them. Come on! Learn along with me!

A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea, the thin clear structure overlying the front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber (which is the space between the cornea and the iris). Together with the lens, the cornea refracts light, and as a result helps the eye to focus, accounting for approximately 80% of the eye's optical power.

Iritis, which I am also lucky enough to have, is an inflammation of the iris, the circular, membrane in the eye that provides the eye its color and forms the pupil. The iris is made up of muscular fibers that control the amount of light entering the pupil. The iris accomplishes this task by making the pupil smaller in bright light and larger in low light.

As you can see by the picture, my iris is macked-up.

Lots of things can cause a corneal ulcer, from infections, to chronic dry eyes to chemical burns. I likely got mine, however, from my contacts. People like me who wear extended wear contact lenses are 10 times more likely to get a corneal ulcer than people who don’t. Contact lenses can cause corneal ulcers many ways. A scratch or dirt particle on the contact can scratch the eye, the contact can have bacteria on it causing an infection, and they can reduce oxygen flow making the eye in general more susceptible to infections.
Even though my contacts are extended wear, I take them out at night, and swap them out every two weeks. The pair I had in when this happened were less than two days out of the box, so I am guessing something got caught under them and I didn’t notice.

The iritis is a secondary problem that the corneal ulcer is causing.

Yesterday when I woke up my eye was dry, but that’s not uncommon in the morning and usually putting in your clean and moist contact helps that out, and I thought it would help. By the end of the day yesterday I was having trouble seeing under our office lights and folks were greeting me by saying, “oh hi Joe…oh my god what’s wrong with your eye?!” so I knew something was amiss. Most folks suggested it was pink eye, and since I have a 2-year old at home, that seemed reasonable.

When I got home yesterday, my wife wisely suggested I go to urgent care. I did, and was diagnosed with viral pink eye. I was given some over the counter eye drops and sent home.

I awoke multiple times in the night in pretty serious pain. So, this morning I had a follow up with an eye doctor and hence the new diagnosis.

Moral of my story? If you are having pain in your eyes, have them checked out. As my wife says, you only get two eyes, you’ve got to treat them like gold.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

Sorry to hear about your recent afflictions, Joe. I, too, suffer from eye ulcers. I got my first one about 20 years ago during a dental exam. I thought something from the overhead light had dropped into my eye but after a weekend of trying to get it out I went to see my doctor. He told me I had an ulcer but had no explanation as to why. Over the past two decades they've seemed to occur once or twice a year, but I've learned to suffer through them. Mine can happen in either eye. They can be painful, at least for the first couple days. One eye doctor told me they're caused by bacteria living under my eyelids and they just flare up for some reason. He told me to wash my eyes with baby shampoo - which I' do sometimes. I also have prescription eye-drops (Vigamox) on hand that I use as needed whenever I feel one beginning to flare up (and sometimes just as a precaution). The drops either ward off flare-ups or speed them along, depending when I start using them. It's a pain but the ulcers do eventually clear up. I have to admit, when I first got one I was really freaked out, but thankfully, they can be treated, and I've learned to live with them. Just another of the many slings and arrows we humans have to endure.

posted on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 3:47pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Went back to the doc today and they sent me on to a specialist as my ulcer has gotten worse. The specialist put me on some funky fungus. Mycotic keratitis, if you will. Interestingly, this site says that

Corneal Fungal Infection (mycotic keratitis) has been in the news because many people who have used ReNu® with MoistureLoc® multi-purpose contact lens solution have reported problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently discovered that contact lens wearers who use this cleaning and storage solution made by Bausch and Lomb are at a greatly increased risk for a particular type of corneal fungal infection: fusarium keratitis.

I use that contact lens solution. And they put me on Natamycin just like this site said. Natamycin drops feel a little like sprinkling salt into your eye. Actually, they feel a lot like that. Anyway, it seems that if this is the problem, and the drops don't work, the next stage is a anti-fungal pill. I go back tomorrow, so we'll see.

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 11:17am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Do you really have to do drops every 30 minutes for 24 hours? What a bummer. I hope it works.

The silver lining is that, if it doesn't, an antifungal pill like Diflucan usually requires only a single dose every 24 hours. And you eat it instead of dripping it or wiping it into your eye.

Last night, I got into bed and realized I'd forgotten to remove my contacts. (How, I'm not sure, since I'm blind as a bat without them. The tip off was the fact that I could read my bedside clock. Anyway...) I was tempted to just leave 'em in. But I don't wear extended wear contacts, and I'd been following your posts all day. So your public service wasn't wasted--I took 'em out. One of them had kind of a rip in it? And I'd been wearing them for, oh, 5 weeks? So I just threw them away. It's a crisper, clearer world this morning, and I owe it to you, Joe.

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 11:44am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Yes! Some good has come from this! I have to do an antibiotic every hour, and an antifungal every four hours, so it averages out to be a drop every 45 minutes. They cut out the steroids, which is too bad, becuase that was really helping with the pain. I wonder if my doctor would be a Scientist on the Spot?

posted on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 1:01pm
maleman001's picture
maleman001 says:

Wow I'm really said about that I really hope it works.

posted on Sat, 09/27/2008 - 3:00pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

The eye is TONS better today - the antifungal seems to be doing the trick!

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 11:37am
josep jaakzi's picture
josep jaakzi says:

Wow that's crazy!

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 2:27pm
josep jaakzi's picture
josep jaakzi says:

Maybe you should contact the contact company...they should know that the contact solution was contaminated.

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 3:01pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

I don't think it is a fault that has been proven yet - it is just a strong correlation.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:10pm
josep jaakzi's picture
josep jaakzi says:

That sounds extremely painful! are some people's eyes more susceptible than others to this?

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 2:34pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

People who wear contacts are much more likely to have eye infections, so if you wear contacts you are (according to my current eye doctor) significantly more at risk for eye infections.

My co-worker Liza just sent me this article which says if you wear contacts you are at an even greater risk of infection if you wear them overnight.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:08pm
josep jaakzi's picture
josep jaakzi says:

is it worth the risk to wear contact lenses? or is it just wiser to wear glasses?

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 2:35pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

That's the question. Everyone's tolerance for risk is different. For as much pain and problems this is causing me, I'll switch right back to contacts as soon as the doctor says that I can. To me, glasses are a huge pain, and I'd personally rather wear contacts.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:09pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yeah, especially with cold weather coming. I hate coming into or out of the office or home and having my glasses fog up.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've worn contacts for years and they are better than glasses!

posted on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 2:46pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

As of today, they have cut back the anti-fungal and antibiotic to twice a day, and added back in the steroid drops twice a day as well. Things are going well as I don't have to see the doc until next week! (It was about every other day until this.)

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:11pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

So by taking the steroid drops, does that rule you out from riding in next summer's Tour d' France?

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:19pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Watch it Thor. My left eye could totally beat you up, and has had a very short temper lately, for some reason.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 2:41pm

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