Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eye: the first division of the trigeminal nerve

Years ago, when I was new to the world of trigeminal neuralgia, I was visiting my neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He asked me if I had eye pain, and I was shocked, thinking he could read my mind. I didn't realize that he asked because eye pain is so problematic for people who have trigeminal neuralgia. And until then, I thought the "discomfort" was my imagination or just referred pain from my jaw and cheek.

 Sure, I had seen diagrams of the trigeminal nerve and noticed that one of it's divisions is located in the eye area. But I didn't want to face the reality that my eye might be affected. As time progressed and the pain became worse, my eye bothered me more.

Sometimes I felt as though my eye would pop out. The pressure and the pain were terrible and it made reading difficult, stealing one more ability from me. And isolation spread itself through my life like a cancer that refused to be arrested.

This is where my story of hope begins, hope that someway somehow God would intervene and take trigeminal neuralgia from me. I prayed that I'd have the courage to move forward with a surgery or that the pain would stop. I knew all about TN going into remission, and I asked please Lord. Let it go into remission forever.  In October 2004, the pain left.

I still have jaw joint pain, but I am thankful it's not trigeminal neuralgia. And it was great to begin life again. Socially, it's been difficult. I live in a small town. People had never heard of trigeminal neuralgia, and they thought I was being a drama queen. After all I had been a drama teacher. They never understood the validity of my disability.

Yesterday, I was prescribed contact lenses. Today, unlike yesterday, I've been successful at putting them in and taking them out. This process is easy for some, but I've always been a little nervous about putting eye drops in or getting close to my eye.

After several attempts yesterday to put in my new contacts, I thought I wouldn't be able to stop my strong reflex to blink. But today I got them in just fine. I put one inside out and had to take it out and put it back in again. I know I can do this.

The entire time I struggled with the simple procedure, I kept thinking if I can get through trigeminal neuralgia I can learn to do something simple like put in contact lenses. It gave me the incentive to persist.

The disability known as trigeminal neuralgia causes us all to learn that we are stronger than we imagined. How has the pain helped you recognize your strength? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comments are welcome.

Have you visited my website?


  1. What did that neurologist do for you then?

  2. Sarah,

    Eye pain, in my opinion, is one of the most troublesome components of TN. My neurologist increased my meds when my eye pain became severe, but it didn't help much. I'm allergic to many of the meds, tying the hands of the practitioner. Now there are more medication options for people who have TN. Thanks for your question.

  3. wow - I have been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia of the opthalimic nerve and it is so bad i can not read etc - sometimes the meds work to ease it but the pressure is always there it feels like someone is trying to push my eye out of my head. I have not read anyone else write about the pressure - am so pleased yours went away I really hope mine does. have had it for about a year and a half and been referred to neurologist. Louise H

    1. Hi Louise,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the pain for me was exactly as you describe it, as though my eye would pop out. It is difficult to get anything accomplished with that type of pain, and I am hoping your neurologist will prescribe something that will bring you relief. I'm saying a prayer for you.

    2. Hello,

      My name is Adele and I have been experiencing terrible jaw, cheek and temple pain since October 2013. I was initially diagnosed by my dentist as having developed TMJD. However, the quality of the pain has intensified in the past 2 weeks and I am now experiencing great eye pain/pressure and small, tiny electric type pains all over my face. I was diagnosed with TN this morning by my neurologist who suspected it might be TN in December. I am devastated. I broke down and cried like a baby for hours. But I know I have to get busy living (or get busy dying, as they say) and I want my life back! Going on Lyrica and Nortriptyline tonight. Please wish me good luck, as I wish all good things to each and every one of you. They say that God helps those who help themselves, so I pray and ask for God's Grace and Healing, not only for myself, but for everyone who has been living with TN.

    3. Hi Adele. Thank you for joining us on my blog. I agree that God helps those who help themselves, but even more important is that He helps us when we cannot help ourselves.I am sorry that you are experiencing so much pain. I think it is good that you are expressing your fear and frustrations through tears. Medication sometimes knocks people off their course for a while, so you might have some changes at first. God bless you, and please stay in touch with me. Love and prayers to you.


  4. Oh my! I was diagnosed with TN recently ... after struggling silently for two years with no idea of what it was .. though after a few months I stumbled upon information on TB by God's grace ... I was not able to accept that's my problem ... I feared and did NOT want the doctors to confirm that's the problem ... However they DID! I have been trying to get out of it and deal with life ... Essential oils were a welcome relief and again, by God's grace I found out about them .. but I am having tough time with people understanding the grip of it or accept when I can't socialize!!

  5. Hello! Desperately need some input here. Just a few weeks after a car accident I started to have reading difficulties beyond being nearsighted: headaches, blurred vision up close and inability to hold focus both near and far. Within the year I developed trigeminal nerve, CV photophobia and spasmodic vision. My doctors did not want to be involved in the lawsuit and lied in the reports. I have 2 herniated disc in my neck and 3 bulged in my lower back. As you can imagine with my lawyer dismissing my case I was left permanently disabled wheelchair dependent. I was never told the a neurologist can help with this. My primary of 2 decades has also tried to be involved in any treatment and I have been left suffering now for 5 years (9/23/2012 was the rearended car accident, I was only 48 at the time). What doctors do you recommend?

  6. I am sorry to learn about your pain and the circumstances surrounding your lawsuit. At one time, I was informed about physicians. There are some support groups on FB that can be of more help regarding doctors.