With the possible exception of surfers, sailors and kite flying enthusiasts, it is probably true that most people don’t like windy weather. However, while many of us might complain that the blustery conditions make us feel irritable, and mess up our hair, for some unfortunate people the situation has far more serious consequences to their well-being and health.
These people suffer from watering eyes or “epiphora”. They produce excessive amounts of tears -without being upset or emotional – which do not drain away properly causing them to stream unchecked down the face.
Although not a life threatening condition, this “lacrimation” or “hypersecretion” (the production of too many tears) and epiphora (when they are not draining away correctly), clearly can have a huge impact on the sufferer’s quality of life as Clinica London patient, Deborah, explains.
“Just going out becomes embarrassing as people tend to stare thinking that you are upset. It gets to the point where you avoid aggravating situations – like staying inside when it’s windy or going on a boat
“It was so depressing … I felt that I was crying my life away!” she said.
Over the last ten years, Deborah’s condition had worsened to the extent that everyday occupations like reading, driving or wearing makeup had become major issues. She was never separated from a box of tissues which were needed for constant mopping up.
“It becomes impossible to read as everything is a blur, the words swim around as they are seen through a distorting film of tears. I had also become afraid to drive especially at night time. My eyes were constantly streaming – I felt I needed wipers on them to be able to see properly”, she recalls.
Although frequent flying can produce dry eyes, Deborah found after several long haul flights her eyes were increasingly sore and watering.
“When I stepped out of the plane it was as if my eyes were over compensating and they would begin to pour with tears.
“Make up became useless as it was quickly washed away down my cheeks. The skin under my eyes felt sore and dry with the constant saltiness of the tears.
“Even strangers were concerned about me. I’d go into a shop and people would look worried and insist that I sit down. Constantly having to explain was awkward – it was eroding my confidence. I like to look people in the eye when I talk to them, but I felt that they were looking away and wouldn’t meet my gaze, as if looking at me made them feel uncomfortable.”
“Possibly sometimes it was in my mind”, Deborah admits, “but it was still a constant distraction from having a normal conversation with anybody… I was just reaching for a tissue all the time and subtly trying to mop up.”
Deborah moved to London from her native Australia a year ago and, as soon as she experienced the cold weather of a British winter, the watering eye situation became intolerable.
“It had got to the point where I was screaming for help!”, she said.
Help came in the form of consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, Jane Olver, who was recommended to Deborah by the ophthalmologist in Sydney who had in November last year, performed lacrimal surgery – in an attempt to clear her tear ducts.
“Immediately after the procedure, the situation improved somewhat. But as soon as I got back to London it was worse than ever and, alongside the dripping nose and streaming eyes, I started to get some infections. They were minor, but nonetheless irritating.”
It transpired that scar tissue was now blocking Deborah’s tear ducts preventing them from functioning properly. In February this year, Jane Olver carried out a further operation in an attempt to re-open the tear duct pathways in the hope that this would help with the tear drainage problem.
Unfortunately it only offered temporary relief. The poor state of Deborah’s canaliculi – the microscopic tear drainage channels – meant that she had no tear drainage.
“I was constantly mopping again– it was amazing just how much water was produced”, she said.
The only relief for Deborah was when she was asleep – even just closing her eyes was not a solution as the tears would still find a way of escaping.
There was only one further possibility – a last resort – an operation called: “Conjunctivo-Dacryocystorhinostomy” (or CDCR) where a tiny pyrex tube is placed between the inner corner of the eye and the nose providing an artificial drainage system.
Deborah was desperate and prepared to give it a go. She will get a Jones tube.
To be continued …