Do Your Eyes Hurt?

Eye pain is a common complaint among writers.


However, no matter how you spend your days, the discomfort in your eyes may not be due to eye strain or dry eyes like you think, or like the doctor keeps telling you.

And…there is relief!

A couple of years ago, the pain in my eyes became so unbearable that I couldn’t work on my computer for more than an hour here or there. After years of being told to use drops for dry eyes, whenever I mentioned eye discomfort to my doctor, I was finally referred to an ophthalmologist.

The suggestion to use drops was reasonable. People who work on computers all day don’t tend to blink often enough, and combined with working in a low humidity environment, can certainly suffer dry eyes.

But for me the drops didn’t provide relief for more than three minutes.

The ophthalmologist diagnosed me with blepharitis. I’d never heard of blepharitis and, even if I had, probably wouldn’t have thought it was my problem, because while itchy or burning eyes or the feeling that you have a foreign object in the eye are common symptoms (ones I had as well), eye pain isn’t a common symptom.

Moreover, aside from crusty eyes in the morning, I didn’t perceive any of the common signs such as inflammation, flaky patches on the eyelids, loss of eyelashes, red rims of the eyelids etc. At least not that I could observe, although the ophthalmologist clearly saw telltale signs that I didn’t.

But do these symptoms–sensitivity to light, burning or gritty or itchy eyes, mild tearing, crusty eyes–describe what you’re feeling?

If they do, you may have blepharitis and a simple morning and evening routine may bring you tremendous relief.

Blepharitis can be an acute condition that once it clears up, won’t recur, or it may be a chronic condition, which would require you to continue this routine for continued relief. There are different causes of blepharitis, ranging from blocked oil glands to allergies to a staphylococcal infection, and your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for your eye as well.

I used prescribed antibiotic drops for one week for two consecutive months and didn’t need them again for more than a year when I had another flare up.

Here’s the routine for treating blepharitis:

1) Put a warm compress on your eyes for two minutes. This is to soften the oils on your eyes that may be blocking glands. A wet compress usually doesn’t stand warm long enough. The kind you heat in the microwave work well.

2) Wash your eyelids, top and bottom, paying special attention to the rims and lashes with a clean washcloth and non-burning baby shampoo. 

Repeat morning and evening.

My doctor warned me that for the first few days the pain could actually worsen, although I didn’t experience that. His assistant told me that her father had been suffering eye pain for years and that this routine, combined with the one week per month antibiotic drops, had been like a miracle cure for him. It certainly gave me significant relief within days.

I’ve shared my experience with a couple of friends when they’ve complained of eye pain, and they too, experienced significant improvements by simply practicing the eye washing routine. So…

I thought I’d share my experience with you. The routine certainly can’t hurt (well, other than drying out your skin a bit around your eyes, which might not help the fight against wrinkles 😐 ), and is definitely worth trying.

Your Turn: Any questions? Comments? Experiences with eye pain?

BTW, on Thursday I am interviewing Jennifer Delamere over at the International Christian Fiction Writers’ Blog and she is giving away a copy of A Lady Most Lovely, which received a starred PW review. And the giveaway is open internationally! 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of graur codrin at