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Dry Eye and Blepharitis

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October 19, 2009

Monologue.

Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.

Guest: Marguerite McDonald, MD

Marguerite McDonald, MD (New York, NY), Ophthalmologist and LASIK pioneer. "Eyelid Inflammation and Eye Dehydration"

LASIK pioneer and ophthalmologist Dr. Marguerite McDonald was on again with more information about dry eye disease. She said that 20 to 30 million people in the United States show symptoms of early stage dry eye disease. Also, six million US women and three million men suffer from advance dry eye.

Dry eye increases with age and is more prevalent among women. It is also a side effect of numerous medications. Modern, climate controlled, energy efficient buildings can also cause dry eye.

Computers are a huge contributor to dry eye. When working at a computer, the blink rate drops from two-times a minute to three-times a minute. Other factors that can dehydrate the ocular tear film include arthritis, gout, eye surgery, poor nutrition, not drinking enough water, low thyroid, not enough sleep, contact lenses and topical eye medications. Eyelid blink disturbance cause by strokes and other diseases can also result in dry eye.

A disease called "blepharitis" which is inflammation of the eyelids, can also cause dry eye symptoms. The eyelid are also home to the tiny meibomian glands, which secrete oil (lipid) onto the tear film. This oil, among other things, prevents the water in the tear film from evaporating. Should the eyelid inflammation affect the proper functioning of the meibomian glands, as it often does, the evaporation rate can increase dramatically.

Symptoms of dry eye: Need to go to bed earlier, difficulty reading, anxiety/depression, increased eye allergies (since the eye can't wash away allergens as easily), sensation of dryness, redness, fluctuating vision, tired eyes, etc. If the problem is worse at the end of the day, it's dry eye, if it's worse in the morning, it's more likely blepharitis. Burning is a symptom of blepharitis.

There is a drug called Restasis that helps the eye's lachrymal glands produce more and better tears. This is extremely helpful in treating dry eye symptoms. Also, Nature's Tears EyeMist helps to restore lost tear film moisture without washing away the lipid layer. With no treatment, dry eye will usually get worse over time.

Dr, McDonald recommends annual MD eye doctor visits beginning at age 40. She also recommends newborn infant vision checkups and periodic well-baby vision checks. The American Academy of Ophthalmologists has excellent programs for children at www.GetEyeSmart.org.

Does dry eye correlate to low humidity? Not conclusively but the rate does tend to be higher in cold climates, possibly because people there spend more time indoors.

Categories: Eye care and dry eye; health and wellness; pediatric health; Dr. Marguerite McDonald; 2009