If eyes are the window of the soul, my windows are currently swathed in red curtains because for the last four weeks my eyes have itched, especially the left one. This is not hay fever or at least, it hasn’t been so far. In the middle of that, I saw the Prof for a check up for glaucoma and macular degeneration. I asked him, sitting in front of powerful magnifying equipment which was focussed on my eyes, if he could see anything and he said no. He also said that he has never seen a year like it for eye infections, most of which are unfamiliar.
In London we blame the plane trees whose pollen is highly irritant. We could also blame various kinds of traffic fumes and a building programme entailing few areas which aren’t ankle deep in every kind of dust and rubbish, propelled into decay by alternative bouts of rain and warm weather. The wind is generously blows it everywhere. And then there are cooking fumes, animal excreta and grot.
The irritation behaves atypically, it goes away and comes back. The itch is so fierce, I felt I could outdo Oedipus at Colonus – and he had to use the pins of brooches. There is no noticeable swelling or redness and such secretion as there is, is very close to what we used to call “sleeps”, a bit of curd which is there when you wake and soon disperses.
The eyelids feel like old Venetian blinds. They don’t always ease with the drops I have to use daily for eye pressure. Sometimes they feel better when I have had a shower and sometimes they are alleviated by the spring water I have in an aerosol which I squirt careful in the general direction of the face, not directly into the eyes.
At the beginning, I left off all eye makeup. Women with eye infections do – we don’t know what is in those products for the most part, only that it looks nice. Then one day, tired of looking like a sad owl (I’ve had these dark circles for many years and if they are good enough for Anna Magnani, they ‘re good enough for me though I do like a bit of alleviation), I put on some shadow and pencil – waited for the roof to fall in – and it had no noticeable effect. If anything, it seemed soothing.
And so we go on. Prof scared it away for a week or so but it is back and it comes and goes and I just leave it alone as much as I can.
Because you don’t know who to ask.
See The Remarkable Life of Skin by Monty Lyman, dermatologist (Bantam Press £20) because skin is the biggest organ of the body and we don’t know a lot about it. The well known eye specialist (now retired) whom I saw regularly for 20 years made a comment that has stayed with me: “The dermatology department used to be next to mine and we referred by walking patients through.” I must have gaped at him because he explained “There is a crossover – the eyes are in the skin.” So I wonder having read of the eyebrow mites scurrying about the face at night looking for a legover, if one of the little **** has got in my eye. And more importantly – who can I ask ?
The GP will almost certainly give me a prescription or refer me to the eye department of the local teaching hospital which fresh out of favour with me because they missed out diagnosing the macular degeneration.
I can go to the eye specialist at the local private hospital whom I have seen once before and very helpful he was OR write to Prof who will refer me: it’s a chunk of money and I have just replaced the kitchen tap. Money will only do what it will do.
The best relief so far followed the application of a small amount of natural yogurt all over the face – though it is not a look you’d want to share.Or I can wait, carefully bathe the eyes occasionally with cornflower (bleuet) or Euphrasia (homeopathic remedy), keep my bacteria ridden paws in my lap and clamber through the predicted heatwave.