Dry Eye, Dry Eyes, Eye Health, Health, Aging, Anti Agining, Healthy Aging

#DryEyes? Step Away From the Screen! And Other Helpful Tips

DISCLAIMER: The following reflects my personal experience. Please consult your doctor before starting a new protocol for treating Dry Eye Syndrome. Excessive use of fish oil can lead to clotting and other adverse reactions. Before running to the store, consult a licensed M.D. to find out what is best for you and about proper dosage of medication/supplements. I am not a doctor or nurse. I am a dry eye sufferer and supporter of others in the same uncomfortable situation.

When it comes to treating dry eyes, it’s about more than just drops. I can honestly tell you that, as someone whose left eye is dry minutes after inserting artificial tears sans preservatives. Ophthalmologists and women’s magazines will suggest taking natural supplements such as fish oil, flax seed oil and vitamin E — a combination can be found in TheraTears Nutrition capsules with Omega3. It is also recommended to drink lots of water and stay hydrated throughout the day, and we all know that a good night of sleep is important too — we’re all too familiar with that gritty, headachy, day-after-the-party dryness. Furthermore, when it comes to alcohol, the recommendation is to go easy on it — it will dehydrate you in the same way that too much caffeine will.

You may get headaches in the area of your dry eye, as I do quite often near my left eye. If you must drink (either vino or that Extra Bold Sumatran Reserve morning cup of joe), drink water before, after and during.

Above are just a handful of tips for the typical dry eye sufferer, but most dry eyes sufferers are atypical, and I include myself in that category.

So, I’ll let you in on my current routine, and I would love to hear from folks about their own routines. I’ll list my present protocol in an alphabetical sequence:

Air — Keep that humidifier going. In my house, we have a cold air humidifier, which is the best option when there are kids in the home.

Antioxidants — Dry eye can also be caused by free radical damage (oxidative stress) in the body caused by aging, poor diet, lack of exercise, and unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, excess alcohol, medications and chronic stress. Healthful foods rich in antioxidants may help slow down the process of oxidation. Antioxidants are easily obtained from eating a diet abundant in fruits and multicolored vegetables, especially the dark, leafy green plants such as kale, spinach and chard. Some of the most antioxidant-rich fruits include acai berry, goji berry, acerola cherries and all other tart berries. (Source: Livestrong.com, read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/80865-foods-dry-eyes/#ixzz15Tm771J3)

Babies and Breastfeeding — I’ve finished having babies and I’ve finished breastfeeding, but please bear in mind that both can affect dry eye. Hormones do strange things. You may find that your eyes are less dry during pregnancy and drier during breastfeeding, or vise versa. You may have to use more drops during these times (I did) and you will probably have to change your diet. Foods like salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can really help with dry eye during these periods, but I’ll get to that shortly.

Computer Usage — The computer will dry the hell out of your eyes. So keep computer usage to a minimum if you can. I can’t seem to, but when I do take a rare break, I notice a significant improvement.

Crying — Sometimes it helps me to have a good cry, while watching a touching film or reading a sad novel. While the watching and the reading may dry your eyes out further, your own tears are the best and most natural lubricant!

Drops, Drops, Drops — Every hour to half an hour I put in Systane Ultra or Blink Gel Tears (I’ve found the latter to be better) and in between I use something lighter and more natural, specifically preservative free vials like Refresh all-natural tears. Some say that artificial tears with preservatives are counter-effective, but these products do help me get relief.

Exercise — It’s good for you and will keep the oxidative stress at bay, plus you’ll forget about your eyes while you’re busy doing it!

Eye Ointment — Yes, there’s actually a mineral-oil based ointment for dry eye that you’re supposed to apply at night, but sometimes I actually use it during the day. That’s how bad my situation is! These ointments (e.g., Systane PM, Refresh PM) really alleviate the dry eye symptoms, but you don’t want to have eye makeup on while it’s in your eye. Most irritating to

dry eye is when eye makeup gets into it!

E, the vitamin — When taking fish oil supplements for dry eye, it’s recommended that you also take vitamin E. Long term usage of fish oil may deplete you of vitamin E, so it’s best to be on the safe side. Again, it is optimal to consult your MD, as I have, about taking any supplements. Every body is different and some conditions do not mix with specific supplements.

Evening Primrose Oil — This helped bring me into labor with my first son, but I’ve also heard that some use it as a natural remedy for dry eye. I don’t take it yet, but I am curious to find out more. If it brought me into labor (at 40 weeks, I was also ready!), it must be pretty powerful. But that also scares me. I’ve read conflicting reports about EPO for dry eyes. If any ophthalmologists have information on EPO as a remedy, please let me know.

Fish — As gross as this may sound to you, I try to eat sardines as often as possible because the fish is rich in omega-3s. Salmon is also a great choice. Added bonus: Your skin will glow. Also see: “The Perricone Prescription.”

Flax Seed — Fish oil is supposedly more effective in alleviating dry eye than flax seed oil, but I say it can’t hurt to eat some ground flax seed in your morning cereal or yogurt or use the pure highest lignan oil in your cooking. Added bonus: It keeps constipation at bay.

Green Tea — This antioxidant-rich tea has an acquired taste, so I recommend starting with one that has a lighter flavor and working your way up to the strong organic variety. We know of the benefits of green tea so why not drink it anyway? Besides, a 2010 study suggests that drinking it could protect your eyes. In the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers fed laboratory rats green tea extract and then analyzed their eye tissues. The results showed that different parts of the eye absorbed varying amounts of catechins from the green tea. Further studies, however, will be needed to confirm that same protective effect in humans.

Lovaza — Lovaza is a prescription-strength fish oil that my doctor recommended. So far, I’m not noticing much of a difference and I’ve been taking Lovaza for more than two months. I had an eye injury that caused nerve damage to the eye and that is why I have dry eye. Just because Lovaza may not be working for me doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. Ask your doctor about it.

Makeup — I’ll have an upcoming post on this in which I quote makeup artists and their recommendations, so stay tuned for that. In the interim, use hypoallergenic and opthalmologist-tested products. Try to use cream eye shadow instead of powder and for those who truly, truly suffer, keep your eye area clear as often as possible! I only apply eye makeup for special occasions. I also never use mascara because, no matter the brand, it definitively irritates dry eyes.

Medicines — Be aware that certain medications such as antihistamines, sleeping aids, antidepressants and certain birth controls can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. I’ve noticed that Benadryl does it to me bigtime!

Potassium — Potassium is usually very low in patients with dry eye, according to Dr. Marc Grossman, who was quoted in an article on LiveStrong.com (http://www.livestrong.com/article/80865-foods-dry-eyes/). The best food sources of potassium include kelp, dulse, wheat germ, almonds, pecans, bananas, raisins, dates, figs and avocados. I happen to love Mejool dates and I’m cool with bananas, so I try to incorporate them into my diet.

Punctal Plugs — Punctal plugs are small devices that fit into the tear duct of the eye. The plug is designed to block the duct and prevent liquid draining from the eye to the nose. Again, I’m not sure that MINE is making a difference. I’d love to hear if any of you have had success with punctal plugs.

Restasis — This prescription-strength eye drop’s main ingredient is a scary one: cyclosporine. It’s scary because it is an immunosuppressant drug that has been used in relation to organ transplants to prevent rejection, but alas, now we’re putting it in our eye. It has been shown to increase tear production after long term use — for some, “long term” may mean after six months! In the short term, it can add to your immediate eye dryness (and guess who’s experiencing that now)?

Salmon and Superfoods — Salmon is a superfood, as I mentioned above. After I eat an ample serving of the omega-rich fish, my dry eye situation feels improved and I don’t think it’s psychological. Of course, other superfoods would include those rich in antioxidants as mentioned above. I’ve also noticed that after using olive oil (just like with flax seed oil) in my cooking, my eyes feel less dry.

Sunglasses — My friends like to make fun of me for wearing sunglasses on days when it’s not really sunny outside, but I need to protect my eyes from glare. I feel that wearing sunglasses really makes a difference and when I leave home without them, the sun and the glare seem to attack my eyes.

TheraTears Nutrition — As previously mentioned, I tried taking this before switching to Lovaza. I’m really not sure if it makes much of a difference, but I did notice a minor improvement after I had been taking the caplets for a few days.

Water — I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking H2O throughout the day!

Zinc — Zinc is a factor in the metabolic function of several enzymes in the vascular coating of the eye, according to “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” A few good food sources of zinc include brewer’s yeast, fish, kelp, legumes, liver, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and whole grains. (Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/80865-foods-dry-eyes/#ixzz15TmYRYHI).

Xiidra – This is a newer alternative to Restasis for those who’ve given up on Cyclosporine, either due to much-prolonged sensitivity or ineffectiveness. “The active ingredient in Xiidra, lifitegrast, binds to the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1), a cell surface protein found on leukocytes, and blocks the interaction of LFA-1 with its cognate ligand intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1).” (PR Newswire)

So, there you go — the ABCs of my dry eye routine. I am always on the lookout for new tips and tricks, so feel free to email or tweet me about what has helped you! I will of course pay it forward by letting other dry eye sufferers know.

(Photo source: All About Vision)

Psychology, Uncategorized

Freaking Out in Our 40s, by the Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth (for now at least)

cameron diaz

Actress Cameron Diaz claims to eschew Botox, fillers and other artificially cosmetic anti-aging solutions, saying she would rather age naturally.

“Someone mistook me for 21 today!!!” posted a 43 year old acquaintance. Braggadocio earned her 140 likes in under 120 minutes. Comments from others followed about being mistaken for much (!) younger. Facebook feeds our narcissistic desires and I personally “like” that. It works to my benefit, especially since I have an otherwise overlooked summer birthday. My friends in their 30s post about John Hamm, Netflix or naptime between baby feedings. Those who post about work – Well, I probably don’t pay attention – but they rarely have happy endings.

Anyway, the response to the 43 year old swiftly becomes a manic flurry of “me too”s, with nary a 30 or 20something chiming in. I am candid with myself and I know we are all going through some sort of “life crisis.” With options in the modern world like lunchtime surgical nips, fillers and great makeup (contouring!), as well as books by scholars the likes of Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba…we feel minor assurance. We have little stories we tell ourselves. I sit and sip my green tea hoping it will negate yesterday’s aspartame-infested diet coke and New Amsterdam peach flavored vodka, but I already foresee the name of my future sitcom: “The Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth.” The plan for now is to age naturally. As my sister in law stated so eloquently: “Wrinkles are beautiful. They show you’ve aged.”

I just saw Raquel Welch on the telly (being a woman of a certain age means I can affect a British accent when I choose, just ask Madonna). The woman is absolutely gorgeous, and, we can all agree: “well preserved.” The reality is that not many of us can afford the good kind of plastic surgery, and the bad kind is too readily available. Let’s not enumerate, but we can agree that the very rich have fallen prey to hideous work. Forget face lifts; it is also quite expensive to seek out options such as lipo, lasers and lights.

It is never a one-time deal from what I have surmised. Maintenance is required. I have met a few plastic surgeons and they will compliment you and flirt away (See: the E! network’s smarmy Dr. Robert Rey), but they will never simply let you say “I’m fine with my appearance.” They have a suggestion for anyone and everyone. This, in my opinion, is the reason for “fake boobs” among the gorgeous of L.A. and Beverly Hills. You can’t mess with perfection, but oh, you can if you are a plastic surgeon because perfection does not exist. (I happen to think little breasts are perfect for running and just generally not getting in one’s way, but that’s just me.)

But back to the real people, the ones who aren’t on Bravo. There is no end to the amount of cups you can fill from the alleged fountain of youth. Hearing about the miracle and attached lore of a broth one man formulated to heal his problematic skin, I am in Bloomingdales searching. The price tag for this broth which is now a cream that is eerily scented (fragrances in a miracle broth for the most sensitive of skins?!) and has the feel and consistency of pediatric staple Eucerin, is exorbitant. Two ounces retail for over 300 dollars. I timidly ask if I can try a sample. They are out of samples, how fortuitous (!), but I know I can hit up Amazon and spend 10 dollars for one, yes pay a small price for the samples that are given out free.

Another customer joins me at the counter. She is fully covered from head to toe, face veiled in an abaya, a Muslim traditional garment that is the best SPF money can buy. I try to make out her eyes’ reaction to the insane price. She takes out a 100 dollar bill followed by two more and I know she’s for real. The saleslady makes an inappropriate comment about what terrific skin she must have under there, that it’s a shame she’s all covered up. Racist! I ask my new friend, the abaya-clad customer at the counter, if the miracle broth is worth the mula. She says she swears by it.

The saleslady takes the opportunity to digest my fully uncovered face and examine the pores rather laboriously. “You, my dear, cannot use the cream, you need the gel. You are acne-prone skin!” she announces. I try to explain that I’m 41 and so I am focused on anti-aging too. I say I’m a tad worried the gel won’t address the moisturizing I might need, now that I am getting up there in the years. “Rubbish!” she might as well have said, though she was more Brooklyn than British. She dismissed me with a wave to the Clinique counter. You see, we are all being dismissed, my dear 40somethings, as going through some sort of silly stage akin to a midlife crisis and not really understanding what we need to do for ourselves.

I also realize it is not only skin deep. We are reading all sorts of ludicrous books on feminism that we may never have picked up 15 years ago (for me, it’s Fear of Flying.. I’m not knocking Ms. Jong, but I would not have appreciated it in my 30s). We are determining our identities and one step further and more subconsciously, our legacies.

The “stage” you are at now, if you’re halfway to your 80s, is suddenly under self-scrutiny. Am I happy? Am I fulfilled? Have I written the great American novel yet, the one I was supposed to publish at 25? Yeah, that last one is MY depressing admission. These are all minor aspirations for those faced with greater challenges. Perspective changes in the face of overcoming illness, abuse or worse. How you process the deeper resolutions of making your life great and seizing the day may be altered by a Xanax in the short run, but you’ll later cry in the shower wondering why you can’t connect with your emotions. You will realize it is to your benefit to feel!

For some reason, my friends in their 50s seem to be over the more massive hump. Those initial grays, age spots and wrinkles are so yesterday. They’re busy traveling and posting pictures of bowling nights out with fabulous folks. But I know they must have their fair share of complaints that I’m not hearing —Still, I feel they’ve shifted priorities. They’re busy commenting on Kosovo, not on the Kardashians.

There’s less pressure to impress when they leave the house, having finished the New York Times crossword puzzle (will I be smarter in my 50s too? I hope so!), clad in stylish yet supportive sneakers, hair scrunched in a bun with minimal makeup. Unlike 40somethings, these woman have known each other for a long time and even when they haven’t, they seem to be candid and not self-conscious. When they trade stories about their spouses or dates, the candor need not be candy-coated or apologetic. The air is filled with understanding, cynicism is a part of their regular humor, not a set-in-stone gossip- garnering sign of learned helplessness.

The above is all based solely on observation and what it looks like from inside of 41, looking out. So I ask that you take it all with a grain of salt – or a strand of salt and pepper hair. Turning 40 signified numerous changes for me personally. I’ve stopped caring more than half as much about what others think (while admitting I have a way to go. You don’t know my starting point, in fairness), I definitely take more fashion risks (wide brimmed hats, bright red lipstick), I focus on the time I’m spending with my kids in the suburbs and not the fact that I haven’t been in the city partying freely and unencumbered with friends in eons. My friendships are based on who I bond with best, whether they be 27 or 55. Age is just a number after all. We can have similar life experiences as someone a decade younger or a decade older.

However, I recently reflected that at age 41, I have no friends who are 21. I’m just not sure we would have ample common ground. Beyond taking selfies (which Wendy Williams says we may be a little old for past 40), a friendship with someone half my age would likely begin with a flip of radio stations and end there: Justin Bieber is on the radio? Hmm. Did you know that according to Wikipedia, the singer’s mother was born in April of 1975? I was born in July of 1974.

Chelsea Handler recently admitted that she felt like a pedophile interviewing Justin Bieber because it’s part of his shtick to flirt with his interviewer. Chelsea Handler is a full year younger than I am. So putting these random little puzzle pieces together, it is more logical that I could be Justin Bieber’s mother than that Chelsea Handler or Justin’s very own mothercould.That is disconcerting. If I think too hard about what it means to be in my 40s, I will forget about beautiful glowing JLO, or my friend Brian who looks like a teenager but is a highly sought out international headache specialist at a mere 41. And I can’t forget the human rights activists, the novelists (damn them!), the filmmakers and the people who are living their dreams – and mine!

What it boils down to is that a “crisis” affects those of us who have not yet grabbed the bull by the horns. Some of us are unsure how to, or we feel stuck, but we also feel an urgency to carpe diem. We are not getting any younger. So if you are in your 30s or 20s and wondering why so many “older” people are posting selfies or sharing pictures of their massive hike to the apex of Kilimanjaro, try to be understanding.

We are still living, somewhere between young and old, somewhere maybe prior to, or just post, mid-life, and we fear irrelevance. No one gets out of this crazy world alive, but we’re all here now to make an impact. The greatest fear, in fact, is not actually death since we know death is an inevitability to life. The greatest fear is going through life without making a mark, or leaving a legacy, without diving off a few planes high in the sky, without making someone gasp or smile for a lengthy period. Our 40s may be our last decade to let loose and go wild while our God-given knees and hips are still in-tact. So excuse us if we make absolute asses of ourselves in order to live each day to its fullest and rejoice, but it seems like the perfect time.

(Article previously published on my Huffington Post blog)