July is Dry Eye Awareness Month

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118477915627710.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.eyesite.org‘, ‘The symptoms of dry eye include discomfort, redness, grittyness and even pain. Patients may complain of ‘tired eyes.’ Vision at times may be blurred.‘);

New York—We overuse our eyes. Spending hours in dry, climate controlled rooms, staring at the computer, reading e-mails, and watching TV are all part of our daily lives, but our eyes are paying the price. We go to the doctor when we’re sick, the dentist for routine checkups, but unless we wear glasses or prescription contacts, eye health is something we tend to neglect. We ignore eye discomfort. We rub tired, itchy eyes. Maybe we even buy eye drops. But our eyes still bother us.

Nearly one-third of Americans suffer from dry eye, and almost everyone will experience symptoms at least once. Dry eye is a disorder that causes the tear film, which protects the surface of the eye, to dry up. Dry eye can cause blurry vision, inflammation and irritation, but can easily be corrected.

Dr. Robert Latkany, author of The Dry Eye Remedy (Hatherleigh Press) suggests five simple things you can do to relieve the discomfort of dry eyes:

1) STOP STARING: When you work at a computer, adjust your chair or the position of your monitor so that you look down at the screen rather than up. This reduces the exposed area of your eyes, which helps to keep moisture in. And give your eyes a rest! No visual multi-tasking after a long day at work.

2) CREATE YOUR OWN LITTLE TROPICAL ISLAND: Keep a humidifier next to your bed at night and, if possible, near your desk at the office. Try to position yourself away from air currents, whether air conditioning or heat, with your back to the flow of the air.

3) WEAR COOL EYEWEAR—EVEN AT NIGHT: Wear sunglasses while outside and exercising and a sleep mask when you go to bed.

These simple things help lock in moisture, reducing the effects of dry eyes.

4) STAY HYDRATED: Six to eight glasses of water a day helps wash away toxins and promote healthy vision.

5) DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY: Spend time with friends and family.

There is evidence that social interaction, alongside diet and exercise, lowers stress and inflammation. Inflammation reduces the quality of the tear film, clogging the glands. Smiling also decreases the ocular surface area, reducing dry eye symptoms.

Untreated, dry eye syndrome gets progressively worse, so treating your symptoms now is crucial for maintaining healthy vision and preventing aging well before your time. In his new book The Dry Eye Remedy, Dr. Robert Latkany offers simple and surgery-free ways to improve eye health and appearance. If you think you may have dry eyes, consult with your eye doctor. For more tips about how to prevent dry eye symptoms and preserve the health and beauty of your eyes, check out The Dry Eye Remedy, in bookstores everywhere.

About the author

Dr. Robert Latkany is a board-certified ophthalmologist and founder and director of the Dry Eye Clinic at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as well as the Dry Eye Center of New York—the first center in the area devoted to dry eye disorders. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Latkany lives and practices in New York City, where he is actively involved in dry eye research.

from the July 18-24, 2007, issue

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