Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water syndicated radio talk show, recently interviewed Laurie Barber, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Arkansas and a leading authority on dry eye syndrome. The interview may be heard on-demand on World Talk Radio, Voice America, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes.
An important Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water objective is to raise awareness of the growing worldwide crisis in dry eye disease, and proactive steps that may be taken to prevent or alleviate dry eye symptoms. Untreated dry eye disease, according to Sharon Kleyne, can lead to corneal ulceration, visual impairment and blindness.
Sharon Kleyne is especially interested in the link between dry eye disease, air quality, polluted humidity, dry air, climate change, dehydrating indoor and outdoor environments and the amount of water we drink daily.
Noting that dry eye symptoms are the number one complaint that ophthalmologists hear from patients, Sharon Kleyne asked how Dr. Barber became interested in dry eye. Dr. Barber indicated that she practices in all areas of ophthalmology but does research on corneal inflammation, which can be caused by dry eye. There is no skin over the cornea and it is protected only by the corneal membrane and the tear film so it’s very delicate. If the tear film is healthy, the eye is likely to be healthy. And there are many important substances in the tear film aside from salt water – hormones, antibodies, mucins, lipids and so forth.
Sharon Kleyne noted that numeorus environmental drying factors that work against the tear film and can cause dry eye, dry skin and dry mouth. Also, dry eye ius often usymptomatic. Sharon asked abou the main symptoms of dry eye?
In younger people, according to Dr. Barber, there are very few symptoms. As we get older, after age 35 or so, we may lose the ability to keep the tear film in top-notch condition without helping it along, more among women than men. Dry eye after age 35, Dr. Barber explained, is believed to be caused by a drop-off in androgen, a male sex hormone, that occurs in both men and women. Dry eye symptoms include burning, itching, irritated, red eyes, and blurred vision. Also, what we call “eye fatigue.”
Sharon Kleyne cited a prior guest, Marguerite McDonald, MD, who observed that if you ever want LASIK surgery later in life, you should take excellent care of your eyes and contact lenses when you are young.
Sharon Kleyne then asked spedcifically about dry eye and menopausal women. I’m sure dry eye also shows up in men of the same age. Dr. Barber replied that older men are also prone to dry eye symptoms, esepciaaly men on prostate medication. The hormonal changes leading to menopause, she explained, start at around age 35 and men have some of the same hormone fluctuations as women. But women have a lot more hormones and a lot more dry eye.
S: Do you have any advice about artificial tears?
L: You need to limit it to four or five application a day, especially when using eye drops that contain preservatives, which can be an allergen.
S: You sound very concerned about vision care education. People are often unaware of the harm they can do to their eyes. Can you become addicted to eye drops?
L: That’s often talked about but I don’t think there have been any actual studies to determine whether using eye drops sets up a self-perpetuating need, as is the case with nose drops. Most people only use eye drops for a short duration.
S: Is there a test for dry eye?
L: The Shirmer test can be done by ophthalmologists or optometrists. They put a strip of blotting paper inside the eyelid for a specified amount of time and see how much liquid it soaks up.
S: What role does the skin around the eyes play in dry eye? Usually, when the eye is dry, the eyelids are inflamed and the eyelid skin is dry and flaky.
L: The lid margins are particularly problematic because that’s where the oil producing meibomium gland are located. The lids are also a “hot spot” for skin cancer. But any time you have serious symptoms, it’s time to see the doctor. They can recommend a pure water mist supplement like Nature’s Tears EyeMist, artificial tears, various medications, punctual plugs, etc.
S: And of course it’s important to keep eyes moist by drinking plenty of water – and I don’t mean coffee or soda.
L: Hydration and diet are critical. You should also eat green, leafy veggies, fruit and omega-3’s.
S: What about occupational health and eye care? Employers need to be taught about vision and forced air heating and cooling, computers, etc.
L: We all take our vision for granted until something bad happens. It’s human nature.
S: Could you talk about sleep and rest?
L: It’s very important to eye health, of course. It’s important to truly rest your eyes at night, and allow them to recover, which means not wearing contact lenses to bed. The tear film restores itself while you sleep – the glands recharge, the pH drops, etc.
S: Do you get a lot of patients with eye-stressing occupations or lifestyles, such as truck drivers or motorcycle riders?
L: Yes, those occupations all involve intense concentration or staring and the person often forgets to blink, which causes too much moisture to evaporate from the tear film. The best way to deal with that is prevention such as goggles or helmets, or pre-treatment such as applying eye drops or eye mist before you go motorcycling.
S: What about computers?
L: Computers also involve staring and cause you to blink less. You need to take frequent breaks to rest your eyes, make sure there isn’t a vent blowing on you, and position yourself to look slightly down on the screen.
S: And finally, tell us what to do about menopausal dry eye?
L: The same as you would for hot flashes. Exercise, drink lots of water, try to stay in a cool place and wear layered clothing so you can cool yourself off.
S: Exercise reduces stress and stimulates your system but can also be dehydrating.
L: Yes. So maybe as you get into menopause, you want to do only moderate exercise. If you’re training for a marathon – and I’ve worked with Olympic athletes – you need to be very meticulous about hydration. If you’re a swimmer, you need to watch your chlorine exposure.
S: Thank you so much, Dr. Barber. My next guest is Rebekah Jones of Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, who is going to tell us more about Lake Mead and especially about an invasive mussel shell that’s been causing no end of problems there.
Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua Research, whose Nature’s Tears EyeMist, a breakthrough hand-held personal all-natural water humidifying device for dry eye. Nature’s Tears EyeMist is available at http://www.BioLogicAqua.com, Amazon.com, drugstore.com and selected drugstores nationwide.
Listen to the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water Mondays, 10 a.m., PST/PDT. The syndicated radio talk show is heard on Voice America/World Talk Radio, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes. Go to http://www.SharonKleyneHour.com for written summaries and on-demand replays. Also visit http://www.naturestears.com, whatistheeye.wordpress.com, “Nature’s Tears EyeMist” on Facebook and “Bio-Logic Aqua” on Twitter.
2012 Bio-Logic Aqua Research