Archive for October 2017

Dry-eye

14 Dry Eye Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

If you have dry eyes, it could be dry eye disease—a chronic problem with tear production, which can lead to serious eye issues if not treated. The problem? Although it sounds easy to spot, dry eye symptoms can be mistaken for other problems, sometimes for years, before getting a proper diagnosis.
Dry eye disease is one of the most common ophthalmological disorders causing chronic discomfort in up to 100 million people worldwide. The disease burden is forecast to rise due to increased screen time and average life expectancy. Risk of dry eye disease increases 35% each decade after age 40.

What is Dry Eye Disease?

dry-eyeThey say oil and water don’t mix, but tell that to your eyes. The tears produced by healthy eyes have a lubricating oil layer on top of a nourishing water layer, and without this combo, your eyes can be in serious trouble.

That’s where dry eye disease comes in. Different from just a one-time episode of dry-feeling eyes, this is an umbrella term for a variety of problems in which tear production is faulty. Ophthalmologists tend to lump dry-eye sufferers into two camps: Those whose tears are in short supply and others whose tears are lacking in oil, causing moisture to evaporate too quickly from the eye’s surface. Some people experience a combination of the two.

Dry-eye sufferer Natalia Warren is chair and co-founder of a nonprofit Not A Dry Eye Foundation, created by a group of patients who “suffered untold agonies” before getting proper diagnosis and treatment. “My symptoms were so severe that I felt like I had tissues stuffed under my eyelid,” she said.

What are dry-eye symptoms?

Here are some common and troubling dry eye symptoms:

  1. Red or bloodshot eyes

    Swollen blood vessels on the white, outer layer of the eyeball can give eyes a crimson hue or make them look completely bloodshot. If you don’t have an eye infection or allergies, it’s a good bet they’re red because your eyes are dry.dry-eye

    “If you have lack of tears, then the cells on the surface of the eye cry out in pain because they’re not being protected,” said Steven Maskin, MD, medical director of the Dry Eye and Cornea Treatment Center in Tampa, Fla. “Chemicals are released that cause inflammation,” and redness is a byproduct, he explained.

  2. Eyes that Feel Gritty

    Dry eye disease often causes the feeling of gritty, sandy, or gravelly eyes. Some people dry-eyedescribe a foreign body sensation as if something’s painfully lodged in one or both eyes. (dirt or makeup can get stuck in the eye, so it’s important to have it checked out). At the doctor’s office, the symptoms many people describe may be due to dry patches on the cornea, the transparent front layer of the eye.

    “The surface of your eye just literally dries out, the cells dry out and cause these micro-abrasions,” explained Amy Lin, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City. Fortunately, it doesn’t necessarily cause permanent damage. “Those dry spots heal when the eyes are more moisturized,” she added.

  3. Light Sensitivity

    People with insufficient watery tears may experience photophobia, or extreme sensitivity to light. As Not A Dry Eye Foundation explains, it can be temporary or constant and occur in all types of light.

    People with photophobia may squint or shut their eyes when exposed to light. The amount of discomfort may vary, too. Some people may experience extreme pain when nerve endings in the eye come in contact with light. Others may complain of light being too bright. Light-sensitive cells in the retina, the layer of tissue lining the back of the eye, may be responsible for the discomfort, according to the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society. It’s thought that these cells may have connections with the nerve that is responsible for relaying sensory information to the head and face

  4. Sensitivity to Irritants

    The eyes endure a litany of insults: wind, smoke, dry air, cleaning product fumes, you name it. An inadequate tear film on the eye exposes nerve endings to whatever wafts in their path.

    Not A Dry Eye Foundation’s Ms. Warren says the cornea has 300 to 600 times more nerve endings than any other part of the body. “So imagine a pin prick in your finger, but the pin is 600 times wider.”

    Any enclosed space with forced vented air, like air conditioning in a home, office, or car, or even an indoor fan, can make dry eyes worse, Dr. Lin said.

    There can also be eye sensitivity to fumes (even from foods while cooking) and perfumes, the foundation says. Eyes need adequate lubrication to feel comfortable, and blinking plays a crucial role. That’s how meibum, the oily substance that keeps the eyes lubed up, is released. When people engage in activities requiring intense focus, they may not blink enough. Or they may not sufficiently close their eyes when they blink. That may be one reason dry eye patients experience a burning sensation in the eyes or on the eyelid margins.

  5. Stringy Mucus in the Eye

    It’s more common in individuals with moderate to severe dry eye and may occur in combination with other conditions, like an infection or allergy. Here’s what happens: People who don’t have a good watery layer on the eye surface experience friction and strain when they blink. And that causes the tear film to secrete more mucus to make up for the missing layer of moisture.

    Esen Akpek, MD, professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute, says it’s a “compensation mechanism of the eye to overcome the lack of good volume.”

    Trouble is when people wipe their eyes to clear the mucus, it can cause further insult to the eye surface and trigger more inflammation, said Dr. Akpek, And so, begins a vicious cycle.

  6. Excessive Tearing or Watery Eyes

    It seems counterintuitive: Why would people with dry eyes have watery eyes? Dry, irritated eyes “turn on the water works” in an attempt to flush out whatever’s bugging them, Dr. Lin explains. But the reason the eyes are irritated in the first place is because they’re dry.

    Patients who complain of excessive tearing often have evaporative dry eye syndrome, Dr. Akpek said. When the eye’s oil layer is inadequate, the tear layer quickly evaporates, causing excessive tearing.

  7. Your Contacts Hurt

    Contact lens wearers sometimes feel the need to reduce the amount of time they use contacts or ditch the lenses altogether because their eyes become so uncomfortable. Roughly half of contact lens wearers report dry eye symptoms. Long-term contact use can lead to loss of sensation in the cornea, the eye’s clear surface, Dr. Maskin explains. It’s the same for patients who’ve undergone LASIK eye surgery or other corneal procedures.

    “When the sensitivity of the cornea is altered, it can lead to reduction in tear secretion, decreased blink and dry eye,” he says.

    Should you switch to wearing glasses? Maybe or maybe not. With proper diagnosis and management, many people can comfortably continue wearing contacts, according to a report in Review of Optometry.

  8. Blurred Vision that Comes and Goes

    dry-eyeBlurry vision is a common symptom of dry eye, one that typically comes and goes. Vision may clear in the morning, after a night of shuteye. But when dryness sets in during the day, so does foggy vision.

    “When the tear film is robust and smooth, then you can see very well through it,” Dr. Lin explains. “But if the tear film is kind of ratty and it’s not covering the eye very well, then it’s like ripples on the surface of a pond or a lake.”

    Dr. Maskin has seen patients whose doctors referred them for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for blurred vision when what they had was dry eye. He offers two simple tests: First, try blinking and if your vision improves, you probably have dry eye. And second, add a drop of artificial tears to each eye (which are available over-the-counter). If it’s dry eye, the blur should disappear.

  9. Inability to Cry

    If you’re feeling emotional, but the tears won’t come, it could be a dry eye symptom. Keep in mind that reduced tear production maydry-eye also result from any number of factors, from hormonal changes to medication side effects. It’s also one of the hallmarks of Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes dry eye, dry mouth and other issues mainly for women.

  10. Heavy Eyes or Eyelids

    Eyes or eyelids that feel heavy are a possible indicator of dry eye. Insufficient tear film can leave your eyes fatigued, “and your eyelids try to droop a little bit to protect the eye surface,” Dr. Akpek explains.

    The heaviness may also be related to meibomian gland dysfunction. This occurs when oil-secreting glands in the lids fail to produce enough oil to keep the tear film moist, or the oil becomes too thick to do any good. The glands themselves can become clogged and crusted

  11. Eye Strain when Using Electronics

    Staring at phones, computer screens or other electronic devices for extended periods of time is not very helpful to maintaining moist eyes. Neither is reading a book. When people are engaged in these activities, they tend to blink at one-third of the normal rate, says Dr. Lin. Is it any wonder that their eyes begin to dry out? Even kids are showing up with dry eye, she said.

    To stave off dryness, follow this 20-20-20 rule of thumb: Take a break every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

  12. Stinging or Burning Eye Pain

    Eyes need adequate lubrication to feel comfortable, and blinking plays a crucial role in this. That’s how meibum, the oily substance that keeps the eyes lubricated, is released. When people engage in activities requiring intense focus, they may not blink enough. Or they may not sufficiently close their eyes when they blink. That may be one reason dry eye patients experience a burning sensation in the eyes or on the eyelid margins.

    “When you have tears that evaporate readily, it leaves the cornea desiccated, and that gives you a sense of burning,” explained Dr. Maskin, author of the book Reversing Dry Eye Syndrome. 

  13. Difficulty Driving at Night

    Having night vision problems behind the wheel? It could be a sign of dry eye.

    Any activity that requires intense focus, say, maneuvering a vehicle from point A to point B, tends to cause people not to blink as much as they normally would. Blinking, of course, is a crucial function for keeping the eyes lubricated.

    Headlight and street light glare may also be bothersome to people with dry eye.

    What’s more, nighttime driving may be more difficult simply because the eyes are typically at their driest at the end of the day.

  14. Suicidal Thoughts

    Although that may seem extreme, when dry eye symptoms become severe, they can completely overwhelm people and contribute to dry-eyedepression.

    “Suicidal thoughts among dry eye sufferers are more common and more alarming than anyone knows,” says Ms. Warren, of Not A Dry Eye Foundation. Most of the organization’s founding board members had suicidal thoughts at some point, she says. “I was one of them.”

    Dr. Maskin agrees, and has seen about two dozen patients who planned or tried suicide in his 25 years of practice. He urges people to be their own advocates for symptom relief.

    All bad dry eye starts out as annoying nuisance, or just minimal dry eye,” he says. “If you let it build up over time, you become a significant risk factor for more significant dry eye.”

Sources: www.health.com, www.informationng.com, www.eyecaretoday.com, www.avenova.com

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Facts

Facts About Your Amazing Eyes

We don’t often give our eyes as much thought as we should; that is until something goes wrong and our vision is affected. But when you learn the facts about eyes, you realize just how amazing they are.

Here are a few facts you may enjoy:

  • Eyes began to develop 550 million years ago. The simplest eyes were patches of photo-receptor protein in single-celled animals.eye-facts
  • Your eyes start to develop two weeks after you are conceived.
  • The entire length of all the eyelashes shed by a human in their life is over 98 feet with each eye lash having a life span of about 5 months.
  • To protect your eyes, they are positioned in a hollowed eye socket, while eyebrows prevent sweat dripping into your eyes and eyelashes keep dirt out of your eyes.
  • Your eyeballs stay the same size from birth to death, while your nose and ears continue to grow.
  • An eye is composed of more than 2 million working parts to make them fully functional.
  • Only 1/6 of the human eyeball is exposed.
  • The human eye weights approximately just under an ounce (28 grams) and is about an inch across.
  • An eye cannot be transplanted. More than 1 million nerve fibers connect each eye to the brain and currently we’re not able to reconstruct those connections.
  • Corneas, the transparent front layer of the eye, are the only tissues that don’t have blood.
  • 80% of our memories are determined by what we see.
  • Eyes heal quickly. With proper care, it takes only about 48 hours to repair a minor corneal scratch.
  • Humans and dogs are the only species known to seek visual cues from another individual’s eyes, and dogs only do this when interacting with humans.
  • A fingerprint has 40 unique characteristics, but an iris has 256, a reason retina scans are increasingly being used for security purposes.
  • People who are blind can see their dreams if they weren’t born blind.
  • “Red eye” occurs in photos because light from the flash bounces off the back of the eye. The retina, the back of the eye, is rich in blood vessels, which make it appear red on film.
  • 80% of what we learn is through our eyes.
  • The most active muscles in your body are in your eyes.
  • If the human eye were a digital camera it would have 576 megapixels.
  • Your eyes contain 7 million cones which help you see color and detail and 100 million cells called rods which help you to see better in the dark.

 

 

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Yoga

Study Finds Yoga and Meditation Can Change Genes, Reverse Depression

In the past two decades, mind–body interventions such as yoga and meditation have been gaining empirical support and recognition from mental health professionals.  A new study found that yoga and meditation may do more than just help you feel relaxed in the moment. The new scientific research published in the journal of Frontiers in Immunology  suggests that these and other mindfulness exercises can actually reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression.

This meta-analysis study looked at over a decade of research, analyzing the findings from 18 previously published studies—involving a total of 846 people. In these studies researchers looked at how human genes are affected by different mind-body interventions, including mindfulness, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi. What they found is that these activities don’t simply relax us — they can reverse molecular reactions to stress in human DNA that can lead to poor health and depression.

The authors say, the studies show that these mind-body exercises appear to suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

Inflammation can temporarily boost the immune system, and can be protective against infection and injury. However, in today’s society, where stress is primarily psychological, the body’s inflammatory response can become chronic and can impair both physical and mental health.

Stressful events, can activate the fight-or-flight response and trigger a chain reaction of stress-related changes in the body—including activating specific genes involved in making proteins that produce inflammation.

Researchers found that people who practiced these mind-body activities regularly had fewer signs of inflammation, including a decrease in their production of inflammatory proteins. This initiates “the reversal of the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress,” they wrote, which may translate to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

Lead author is  Ivana Buric, is a PhD student in Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in England.

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Related Content:

Understanding the Stress Response

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

References:

Frontiers in Immunology Journal – What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670/full

Forbes – How Meditation And Yoga Can Alter The Expression Of Our Genes https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/19/how-meditation-and-yoga-can-alter-the-expression-of-our-genes/#2c09470d237c

Science Daily – Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm

Time – Yoga and Meditation Can Change Your Genes, Study Says http://time.com/4822302/yoga-meditation-genes-stress/

NBC News – Meditation and Yoga May Change How Stress Affects Our DNA, Study Finds https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/meditation-yoga-actually-change-our-dna-study-finds-ncna773091

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Eye-Surgeon

Surgeon Says Keep Eyelids Healthy with Avenova

By: Alice Epitropoulos, MD, FACS

Source: The Eye Center of Columbus

Eye Surgeon Alice T. Epitropoulos, MD, FACS, co-founder of The Eye Center of Columbus and eye surgeon at the Cataract & Refraction Center of Ohio, offers women advice on keeping their eyes healthy and beautiful. “The best way to keep the eyes as beautiful as possible is to keep the eyelids healthy, which can be done using an eyelid hygiene product from NovaBay Pharmaceuticals called Avenova,” says Dr. Epitropoulos.

Women spend billions of dollars a year on cosmetics and other preparations to make their eyes look striking and attractive. Yet, ironically, makeup can also make eyes unhealthy, causing inflamed and painful eyes.

In addition, millions of women suffer from common eye conditions such as dry eye disease and blepharitis, and up to 30 percent of women over 50 can no longer wear their contact lenses because of these conditions. As if that’s not enough, the hormonal changes associated with menopause can also adversely affect the eyes, increasing the chances of dry eye. “These conditions make it challenging to keep the eyes looking beautiful,” says Dr. Epitropoulos.

In the vast majority of cases, these problems have a common cause, Dr. Epitropoulos explains – the growth of bacteria on the eyelids and lashes.

Various types of microbes naturally live around the eyes. But when populations get large, often because of makeup (which can be a breeding ground for bacteria), the bacterial overgrowth can cause a host of problems. Debris and a crust-like substance build up on the lids and lashes. More important, the bacteria can release an enzyme that contributes to clogging of the glands on the eyelids. These glands produce a crucial oil needed to keep the tear film on the eye from evaporating. The enzyme released from the bacteria on the lids can also disrupt the oil in the tear film, causing the tears to become unstable.

The result: irritated, scratchy, or burning eyes, as well as blurred or impaired vision and other symptoms of Dry Eye. “It’s hard to feel pretty when your eyes are tearing, red, inflamed and painful,” says Dr. Epitropoulos.

Fortunately, Dr. Epitropoulos and her fellow eye doctors now have a good way of managing these conditions – using Avenova, which directly tackles the root cause.

The key ingredient in Avenova is Neutrox, a pure 0.01% formulation of hypochlorous acid, a substance that is naturally made by our body’s white blood cells to fight microbial invaders. “Avenova® safely removes the harmful bacteria,” Dr. Epitropoulos explains. “Moreover, Avenova inactivates the enzyme that breaks up the vital oil.”

Her own patients report that regular use of Avenova leaves their eyes feeling more refreshed, clean, pain-free – and more beautiful. “Women care so much about the beauty of their eyes, and maintaining a youthful beautiful appearance requires keeping the eyes healthy,” says Dr. Epitropoulos.

Contact

Dr. Alice T. Epitropoulos, MD, FACS
EyesMD33@gmail.com

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