An Ophthalmologist Describes the Global Dry Eye Crisis

24 Jan

Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water syndicated radio talk show, interviewed Philip Paden, MD, an Ophthalmologist in Medford, Oregon. They discussed the global dry eye crisis, eye health and nutrition, pediatric vision care and macular degeneration. The interview may be heard on-demand on World Talk Radio, Voice America, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes.

The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is interested in the complex links between dry eye disease, dry air, polluted humidity, climate change, indoor and outdoor environments and the need to drink more water.

During the interview, Sharon Kleyne asked Dr. Paden about the status of dry eye disease in the United States and worldwide. He indicated that the five worst US cities for dry eye are, in order, Las Vegas, Lubbock, TX, El Paso, TX, Midland/Odessa, TX and is Dallas, TX.

Outside the US, according to Dr. Paden, the situation is much worse. He said that in Argentina, the air is so bad, partly because of ozone layer thinning, that they recommend spending no more than three hours a day outdoors. Air quality is also problematic in China, India, Mexico, Brazil and Australia.

The eye’s tear film, he said, has been taking a beating and the main culprit is lack of air moisture, or polluted humidity from climate change, technology and population growth. Dry air and polluted humidity increase water evaporation from the tear film.

Regarding nutritional suggestions for maintaining a healthy tear film during the dry eye crisis, Dr. Paden recommended dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach and leaf lettuce. He also recommends flax seed oil and omega-3 fatty acids.

Sharon Kleyne asked about children’s visual health and pediatric vision care. Dr. Paden indicated that barring injury or major illness, children’s eyes are pretty resilient. Most problems develop as we age. He added that retinal blastoma, or melanoma of the eye, which occasionally turn up in infants, used to be invariably fatal and now usually no longer is. Eye cancer symptoms include inflammation of the outside of the eye, diminished peripheral vision, etc.

Regarding macular degeneration, Dr. Paden explained that the disease usually occurs in older people but occasionally turns up in teenagers. The retina loses pigment and deteriorates. The good news is that studies show that proper diet can reduce the chances of macular degeneration by 50% or more.

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