Tear Not

I visited Kaiser’s ophthalmology clinic today to see whether they might have any insight into the excessive tearing from my right eye.  Previously, I’ve never had a minute of complaint regarding my eyesight and I was relieved when, at the very least, the admitting nurse found my vision to still be 20/20.  She next escorted me to a dimly-lit examination room and I studied anatomical charts of eyeballs while waiting for the opthamologist.  Dr. Weisel soon whisked into the room and quickly got down to business examining my eyes and asking about my medical history.

To my great surprise, he concluded I have created a perfect storm of conditions leading up to an extreme case of dry eyes.  Apparently, beta blockers (which I take to prevent migraines and lower blood pressure) + eczema (specifically, on my eyelids) + aging + Taxol = a heightened risk for dry eyes.  Though I failed to recognize my discomfort as dry eyes, in retrospect the continually dry feeling, redness, and bleary eyesight over the past several months were clear signs.

Dr. Weisel said that dry eye syndrome ironically can cause the eyes to overproduce tears, though in my case those tears are probably of very low quality.  Although overproduction of tears might be a significant contributor to my leaky right eye, it is not the sole source of trouble.  According to Dr. Weisel, the Taxol is very likely providing a 1-2 punch.  Taxol’s close pharmaceutical cousin, Taxotere, has been so closely linked with excessive tearing that it has earned the moniker Taxotears from bleary eyed sufferers.  One theory supposes that Taxotere (and assumably Taxol) causes fibrosis and consequently permanently blocks tear drainage ducts, forcing tears to overflow onto the cheeks like a clogged downspout resulting in dripping gutters.

He recommended I first treat the dry eyes with lubricating eye drops.  I’ll go back to have my eyes reevaluated in 2 months, and if the leaky eye hasn’t dried up in the interim, we’ll start investigating the possibility of a blocked tear drainage system.  Even if we find visible evidence of blockage, Dr. Weisel warned that I would probably not want to attempt surgery since it is often unsuccessful and can easily lead to further damage.

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