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Dry Eye Syndrome among Women

Show Summary - June 7th, 2010

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: Ilene K. Gipson, Ph.D.

Ilene K. Gipson, Ph.D. (Boston, MA), Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School. "Women and Dry Eye Syndrome."

Dr. Gipson is an ophthalmologist and dry eye researcher at Harvard Medical School. Dry eye symptoms are the #1 reason for eye doctor visits in the United States. She notes that dry eye syndrome is extremely complex and involves the surface of the eye, tear and lipid producing glands, the skin of the eyelids, the manner in which inflammation is processed by the brain and body, hormone production, microscopic tear film components, and the nervous system connection to the brain. Any part of this system can result in dry eye symptoms.

Two-third of dry eye sufferers are women and most are peri- or post-menopausal (although many men, including older men also get dry eye). The symptoms in women relate mostly to hormone levels and lifestyle and they do not get it simply "because" they are women. Women are also more prone to autoimmune diseases, which has some of the same precipitating factors as dry eye. Women also live longer so the risk of age related illness is greater.

Sharon notes that as inventive as humans are, the invention of alcohol as a beverage, smoking and the frying pan were not our finest accomplishments. One-third of cataracts are linked to smoking.

Dr. Gipson recommends dark green vegetables and adequate sleep at night. Sleeping lowers the tear film pH and restores tear film moisture. It is also generally conducive to good health.

Regarding water, in many parts of the world, it is women who draw and carry water for their families and villages. They are far more prone than men to diseases caused by drinking bad water, including trichoma, which can cause blindness. A disease called "river blindness" is more prevalent in men who work in the rivers.

Regarding computers, the doctor notes that deep concentration can greatly affect the eyes' blink rate. A slowed blink rate increases moisture evaporation from the tear film, resulting in dry eye symptoms. Indoor conditions such as household chemicals, insulated walls and windows and forced-air heating and cooling can also cause dry eye symptoms.

Final word: Take care of your eyes through lifestyle habits and checkups. And take care of your while body, not just its parts. Because they are all interconnected.

Categories: Eye care and dry eye; 2010

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