Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Recurrent Corneal Erosion. You'd be forgiven for not knowing what it means at first, but I'm sure breaking down it's name, the symptoms become pretty obvious.
It all started as I waited for the bus to uni one morning, with the autumn sunlight glaring in my face through my sunglasses, my eyes started to water, like they always had done. I thought nothing of it until I unintentionally looked up toward the sunlight, probably to flick my hair out of my face, and I felt this searing pain behind my eyes and my tear ducts decided to go into overdrive - or as I like to call it, Titanic Opening Credits Mode. I went to my local GP, a woman who's close to her deathbed herself, who very helpfully(?) and without taking a closer look at my eye, simply judging me from across the room, informed me that I was suffering from conjunctivitis, and sent me out with a flea in my ear and a demand to get some ocular eye wash from the chemists. I took it as read, after all, she seemed so certain in her diagnosis, how could I possibly question a qualified doctor? A week went by as I used the eye bath as frequently as possible but the agony of looking anywhere near bright light was still there, preventing me from concentrating at university as even the lights of a slideshow projector left me in floods of tears. Not that I didn't find reading Jane Eyre emotional anyway, but suspicions were raising among fellow students and I couldn't suffer any longer.
So I booked into my local Boots opticians, a choice I made purely because I had a £5 eye test voucher. From the moment the optician looked into the magnifying equipment, he knew something was wrong. He told me the diagnosis - recurrent corneal erosion. He mentioned that there was a crack all across my left eyeball, but I instinctively didn't believe this could happen so I even questioned that what he was seeing might have been one of my dogs hairs stuck in my eye. Hell, it made him laugh anyway.
The nature of the condition is that given the right (or wrong) climate, a crack will open up on my cornea. The weather that autumn was particularly freezing so it's more than likely my walk to university facing bitter winds head-on froze out my eye and created a dramatic crack. If you're half as squeamish as I am, this is quite a hard concept to grasp without going jelly-legged. As this condition is recurrent, I can expect to have this every time the UK's wonderfully drastic weather strikes. I felt the same pain last week as I'd been caught out in the blinding sun too much, but it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
The treatment is a lot simpler than I expected. I simply have to use an optic lubricant (I can't tell you how much I laugh asking for lube at the chemists) and specialist eye drops every night before bed for 2 weeks and the crack clears itself up. The lubricant is a fun treatment because it makes me temporarily blind, so watching me take off my makeup under the effects of this eye ointment is such an entertainment, I should start selling tickets.
There are two morals to this story - eye pain is not something to shrug off, and GPs know NOTHING.