Archive | July, 2011

Symptoms and Relief of Allergy Eye

28 Jul

An “allergy” may be defined as “an adverse immunological reaction to a substance that normally does not produce such a reaction.” Adverse reactions to things like pollen, mold spores and pet dander (called “allergens”), are allergies because most people are not bothered by them. An adverse reaction to cigarette smoke or bee stings is not technically an allergy because nearly everybody reacts to them.

The eye’s first line of defense against allergies and other irritants is the complex and extremely thin tear film that covers the eyes’ exposed surface. The tear film is 99% water. The remainder of the tear film consists of salt, proteins, antibodies, lipids, etc.

Factors such as air pollution, dry air, heat, wind, forced air heating and cooling and even stress can cause your tear film to lose water. If you happen to be sensitive to allergens such as pollen, the reaction will be more severe if your tear film is too dry and not functioning at full capacity. It is common knowledge among specialists that allergy eye (especially pollen allergies) is worse in hot, dry weather and better in cool, humid weather when it is easier to maintain the tear film’s natural moisture balance.

Standard eye drops may be ineffective against allergy eye because the large drops can wash away the natural tear film, including the evaporation-slowing lipid layer. Also, chemicals in these products can create their own adverse or allergic reactions.

Allergy Eye and Dry Eye Symptoms.

Itching, redness, blurred vision, burning, eyelid swelling or redness, excessive tearing, grainy feeling, eye strain, fatigue, heavy eyelids,  and light sensitivity are some allergy eye and dry eye symptoms.

Reducing allergens/minimizing symptoms.

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is at its peak, especially in mid-morning and early evening.
  • Keep windows closed and use air-conditioning during peak allergy seasons.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors during peak seasons.
  • Allergy-proof your home; put dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows; clean surfaces with a damp mop, rag, or shampooer rather than dry sweeping or dusting.
  • Keep pets outdoors as much as possible if you have pet allergies.
  • Reduce molds by keeping indoor humidity moderate. Shoot for 40% to 50% relative humidity at 70 degrees.
  • Remove contact lenses as soon as symptoms appear.

Standard remedies.

  • Cold compresses on the eyes.
  • Oral antihistamines (may cause drowsiness).
  • Eye drops and redness relievers.
  • See your doctor about mast cell stabilizers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and immunotherapy.

Maintaining tear film health.

  • Put bowls of water in your house, especially when heater or air conditioner is on.
  • Take frequent long, luxuriant baths and/or showers.
  • Let as much fresh air into the house as you can, especially the bathroom.
  • Apply a pure-water mist before and after facial cleansing and any time eyes or face feel dry and/or uncomfortable.

© 2010 Bio-Logic Aqua Research

Applying Stem Cell Research to the Eyes

15 Jul

Ula Jurkunas, M.D. (Boston, MA), Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, “Corneal Transplant and Reconstruction Using Stem Cells.”

Sharon noted that the rate of blindness in the world is expected to double by 2030 and that 80% of this is preventable. People like Dr. Jurkunas could help slow this down.

Dr. Jurkunas is a researcher at the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Cornea Research. The cornea is the clear, hard part of the eye, through which light enters. To function ideally, the cornea must be clear, smooth and well hydrated (lots of water). Most of the water is contained in the complex, protective tear film that overlies the cornea and the sclera (white part). The tear film is the main refractor of light into the eye and retina.

Dr. Jurkunas agreed with Sharon’s assertion that “good hydration equals good vision.”

Sharon asked about dry eye and the environment. Dr. Jurkunas replied that the environment is very hazardous to the eyes and that the cornea is the most vulnerable part of the eye. With too little water in the tear film over the cornea, it becomes irritated, vision becomes blurry and corneal ulcers may form. This can happen to anyone but especially the elderly.

Corneal stem cells are formed on the surface of the sclera and in the corneal epithelium (membrane over the cornea). They are critical to keeping the cornea healthy and clear but they can become depleted or impaired. Causes may be overuse of contact lenses, infection, allergies, chemical burns and immunological disorders. There is currently no treatment for this.

Dr. Jurkunas’ research involved removing stem cells from the mouth and conjunctiva (meaty corner of the eye), or from the good eye, growing them in culture and transplanting them to the affected cornea. Older people with severe vision loss due to corneal damage are the best candidates. It will not help macular degeneration. This procedure is in limited clinical trial and will not be routine for a while.

Regarding computers: Excessive computer use tends to reduce blink rate and therefore effect tear film hydration. Best is to correct this before it becomes serious.

Regarding cataracts and macular degeneration: Eat foods and nutrition supplements high in antioxidants. Also, protect your eyes from UV light. Children should wear wrap around sunglasses. Sharon observed that the sun is the eyes’ worst enemy.

Regarding sleep: Sleep rejuvenates the tear film and cornea to heal up irritation and damage occurring during the day.

Regarding China: There is a lot more dry eye disease and eye infections in China because air pollution is much worse.

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