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By: Niki Kapsambelis
July 31, 2023
For 15 years, there were so many things Lisa Pessa could not take for granted – everyday things like watching a movie, or driving on a hot day with her car’s air conditioner on.
She first noticed a problem when she began waking up with her eyes matted shut. During the day, she strained her eyes looking at a computer screen, causing them to burn. Her doctor diagnosed her with dry eye disease.
“At first, the symptoms weren’t bad, though,” said Lisa, who is a patent lawyer for Viatris. “It was more of a frustration or an irritation.”
Over the years, that changed. The irritation worsened to the point where her daily life was affected. Reading became painful. When she drove, she frequently had to find a spot to pull over so she could put artificial tears in her eyes.
“It became very difficult to do even simple things,” she said. “Work became a real stress because I would have to take constant breaks from the computer and I lost my concentration when I did that. I had to work longer hours as a result, and it was very trying.”
Dry eye disease occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or do not produce the right type of tears or tear film, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The constant pain interfered with her free time, making relaxation impossible. Lisa developed scratches on the cornea, or transparent outer layer, of her eyes. She worried about the long-term effects of the irritation and the impact it could have on her eyesight.
Things finally began to improve when she and her doctor agreed on a care plan that worked for her: “I could feel the moisture coming back into my eyes,” Lisa said.
Within the first month, she was driving with her windows down again, and people at work noticed she was no longer constantly blinking.
“It was great to just watch a movie,” she said. “My life definitely got better.”
She got rid of her bottle of artificial tears, but on her dresser, she keeps the first box of the new medicine that helped her.
“I just want to remember how difficult things were for me,” she said. As a person who works in a science-related industry, she finds inspiration in that small box: “It gives me hope to go on every day and think of the great discoveries that are coming up.”