Real Life

Real life: Not removing my make-up almost made me go blind

My eyelids were covered in what looked like a thick, black mould!

By As told to Take 5

Theresa Lynch, 50, from Sydney NSW, shares her shocking true life story;

Sitting on the edge of Mum's bed, I watched as she expertly applied her blush, lipstick and mascara.
At nine years old, I was already fascinated by make-up and how it could enhance a woman's appearance.
"Mum, can I please put some on?" I begged.
"Not until you're older, darling," she told me. "You're pretty enough without it!"
I continued watching Mum in front of the mirror over the years.
She was beautiful and always took great pride in her appearance.
She'd often give me advice and tips, too.
"A woman should always look her best, sweetie," she told me. "You just never know who you'll run in to."
When I started wearing make-up myself in my late teens, I didn't need any guidance like most of my friends.
I'd spent so much time watching Mum that I was already an expert.
Applying my make-up fast became the favourite part of my day.
Whether I was going out for lunch, running to the supermarket or hitting the gym, I had to have my face done.
My focal point was my green eyes as mascara really opened them up.
I'd apply two generous coats of waterproof mascara each morning and my eyelashes wouldn't budge until I removed it by cleansing, toning and moisturising my skin before bed.
"Your eye make-up is amazing," friends told me.
I've always enjoyed wearing make-up. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
But things changed when I had a baby boy, Bynum, when I was 23.
Motherhood was so exhausting, I didn't have the energy for my strict skincare regime anymore.
Most nights, I'd just let my make-up remove itself when I was in the shower.
I'd not long turned 40 when I began feeling a weird sensation under both my eyelids.
It felt like an eyelash or some dirt had become trapped under there.
"Can you see anything?" I asked my youngest son Austin, 13.
"No, they're just a bit red," he replied.
I didn't worry too much about it until my eyelids started feeling unusually heavy a few years later.
"It just feels really gritty all the time," I explained to my doctor.
She gave me a special eye douche to flush out any foreign objects and toxins.
I gave it a go, but was disappointed when the strange sensation was still there afterwards.
Over time, my eyes became glassy, watery, and bloodshot.
I tried all types of eye drops and lubricating gels but nothing seemed to make a difference.
I constantly felt like someone had thrown sand in my eyes.
Me with my boys Bynum and Austin. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
One day, I was driving to the home where I worked as a housekeeper, when a police officer pulled me over for a random breath test.
I hadn't had a drop to drink, but he seemed to be eyeing me suspiciously.
"How many drinks have you had today?" he asked.
"None," I snapped.
"Have you taken any illicit substances?" he asked.
"Of course not," I replied. I could tell he didn't believe me.
"Why are your eyes all glassy and bloodshot then?" he demanded.
"I have an eye condition," I replied.
He looked surprised when my reading was negative and had no choice but to let me go.
Over the following years, I noticed my vision was deteriorating so I booked an appointment with an optometrist.
He gave me a general eye test but was worried about how watery and bloodshot they looked, so he referred me to a specialist.
A few weeks later an ophthalmologist took photos of my eyes.
She gasped in horror when she examined them up-close.
"I've never seen anything like this before," she cried.
I felt my legs buckle as she showed me the photographs from inside my eyelids.
All I could see were disgusting solid black lumps dotted everywhere.
It was like my lids had developed some sort of mould!
"What is that?" I asked, horrified.
"Those are calcified bumps, called concretions," she explained. "They're buried under your eyelids."
I stared at her blankly.
The biopsy taken from my eye showed the damage. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
"You could have gone blind if you hadn't come in when you did," she continued.
I sat in stunned silence as she explained the concretions were caused by a build-up of mascara.
When she asked if I remove my make-up at night, I just shook my head, dumbfounded.
I hadn't removed my make-up properly in about 25 years.
"The particles have built up over time and kept getting bigger," she told me. "Every time you blink, the lumps are rubbing your eyeballs, damaging your sight."
I'd never heard anything like it! Who would have thought mascara could have left me blind?
It sounded like a joke!
My doctor scheduled emergency surgery to have the lumps removed under general anaesthetic.
I was a nervous wreck when Austin drove me to the hospital.
Although I desperately wanted those horrid lumps out of my eyelids, I was worried something would go wrong during the operation.
"It'll be fine, Mum," Austin soothed, holding my hand as I was wheeled off to theatre.
When I woke after the 90-minute procedure, I felt like a different person.
"My eyes feel brand new," I cried, delighted.
The pain behind my eyes had been gradually getting worse for almost a decade.
I'd forgotten what it was like to blink freely, without feeling like my eyelids were heavy or there was grit in my eyes.And everything looked so clean, clear and focused. It was like I was seeing the world again for the first time.
I was horrified to see the results. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
Almost six months have passed since the surgery and amazingly, my eyesight is perfect.
Nowadays, I only ever wear a very light coat of non-waterproof mascara.
But most importantly, I make sure I take it off properly every night without question.
Never in a million years did I think I could go blind by simply not removing my mascara.
Now, I'm sharing my story to teach others the importance of good make-up hygiene.
My pure laziness almost cost me my eyesight – don't let it happen to you.

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