The following is courtesy of The Sharon Kleyne Hour radio show. Mrs. Kleyne is a pioneer in the field of water hydrotherapy and health. She hosts a bi-weekly radio show dedicated to educating the public about health and the environment.
Marguerite McDonald is an Ophthalmologist and LASIK pioneer.
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 http://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.