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The Worst Eye Infection of My Life (And the Valuable Lesson I Learned From It)

Over Thanksgiving I got the worst eye infection of my life.

I’ve have had glasses since I was in 4th grade and have been wearing contacts since I was in 6th grade, so I’ve had some doozies when it comes to eye infections. But this one was the worst of the worst.

The doctor took one look in my eye and listed off about 3 things wrong with it. I paused for a second and said, “wait a second, that’s my good eye”.

He said, “I know, now I can only imagine whats going on in your other eye”

(apparently when there are two of something — ears, eyes, feet, etc., they always look at the “good one” first).

By the time he got over to the eye I was having problems with he was even more stunned at what he saw.Basically what had happened was that I was abusing my contacts — wearing them 7 days per week for 12 hours per day, wearing them for 4+ months when they’re only made to last 4 weeks, not cleaning them well, etc. — these bad habits over time led to a build up of bacteria to form on my contact and then transfer to my cornea each time I put my contacts in. The result was a giant bacterial infection on my cornea. Not good. Not good, at all.

The doctor told me I had a serious infection and that it was completely caused by my poor care of my eyes and contacts.

I have always been a naturally healthy person. For my entire life I’ve been able to rely on my youth, my genetics, and well, my good luck to avoid needing to go out of my way to take care of myself. Wearing my contacts non-stop, sleeping with make-up on, moisturizing once a month, eating a diet of basically only carbs, using the cheapest shampoo and beauty products available, these were all things that were a part of my daily routine my entire life. I just never saw the negative effects of any of them.

This eye infection hit me like a ton of bricks. Learning how infected my cornea really was and also hearing what the repercussions down the road would be if I didn’t change my habits really struck a cord with me. For the first time in my life I realized that I was going to need to start making an effort to prioritize self-care.

The doctor instructed me to go at least one month 100% free of contacts and, of course, prescribed me a few different medications to get the infection under control.

I almost fell off my chair when the doctor told me one of the medications would require me to put drops in my eye 4 different times per day and then close my eyes for 5 minutes immediately after. There are days I don’t give myself 5 seconds to stop and pause let alone giving myself 20 minutes per day to stop and close my eyes.

It was truly a hard concept for me to wrap my mind around at first. The first few days I found myself literally putting a timer on and mentally going over my to-do list for the day in my head. But as the days went on I got better and better at enjoying those 5 minutes and looking forward to them as a calm spot in my day.

I’ve never been good at giving myself permission to slow down or to take a break, and most days I just never did. I’d push through my clouded mind or my exhaustion, and just grin and bear it. But in this case, I was medically instructed to pause. Instead of speeding from thing to thing and task to task, my 5 minutes post eye-drops were spent doing little exercises to relax and reboot myself mentally. Most of my breaks included a deep breath and a little prayer.

It wasn’t easy, but what I finally got good at was giving myself permission to slow down and recharge. We shouldn’t need a doctor’s orders to give ourselves what we need, both mentally and physically.

One month later my infection is gone. I successfully went the entire month (and then some) without my contacts. I have made an appointment with my eye doctor and am making the switch from color contacts (the thickest my non-breathable kind of contacts) to daily contacts (the thinnest most breathable kind of contacts). I’ve also committed to wearing my contacts no more than 5 days per week and 8 hours per day. It definitely hasn’t been easy to make these changes, but I can already tell you they’ve been worth it.

tell me…

How do you prioritize self-care?

Comments

Hey Carrie! I am a new reader to your blog but I immediately homed in on this article as I too had a major eye incident in August – iritis – I got it while in Granada, Spain and it was pretty bad. Initially had to put drops in every hour, and this continued for a month! Couldn’t expose my eye to light, had terrific headaches etc. Not necessarily caused by lenses but after that I only wear them now about once every couple of weeks. Even went without any eye makeup for TWO months. Hideous. But like you it was a massive wake-up call for better self and eye care – the eyes really do reflect your general health and I can totally relate to how scary it is when you have an eye scare. Your glasses are fab BTW! Best of luck – Europafox x

Drops every hour!? Holy Cow!! That is so scary! You’re so right about your eyes reflecting general health. It was such a big wake-up call for me in-terms of making self-care a priority, but I definitely had to learn my lesson the hard way.

I never sleep in my contacts but wear them all day for sure, I also used to wear them way past their duration like 3 months for monthlys. my dr said that I could get an infection, but I didn’t really believe her for a while. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it and now I make sure to pop in a new pair once a month. I am SO sorry this happened to you and thanks for the warning 🙂

How scary! I am so happy you’re ok. I’ve been wearing contacts for like 15 years and I too have nights where I don’t take out my contacts when I sleep, times when I’ve used the same pair for 6 weeks instead of 4, etc. Our eyes are so important, yet commonly get over looked (no pun intended). This makes me want to rip my contacts out of my eyes right now and not put them in for days. I really need to try and wear my glasses more on the weekends to give my eyes a break instead of wearing these contacts for 16 hours a day. Preach, girl!

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