Q&A: Dry Eye Syndrome

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 3:01 PM comments (0)

Dr. MacsaiMarian Macsai, MD, NorthShore Division Chief of Ophthalmology, answered questions on dry eye syndrome in the winter edition of Connections and she continues her Q&A here:

Connections Q & A:

What is dry eye syndrome?
It is a condition that develops when the eye does not produce enough of the watery layer that makes up tears, or tears evaporate because they lack normal levels of an oily substance. This inflammatory disease is associated with several factors, including aging, hormonal changes, autoimmune disease, certain medications, disorders of the eye surface and cosmetic surgery. 

What are the symptoms?
Patients typically complain of stinging, burning, pain, redness, tearing, fatigue, blurred vision and intolerance to wearing contact lenses. Some patients also feel as if something is in their eye.

Can I prevent it?
It is important to avoid wind and dry air and to protect your eyes by wearing wraparound sunglasses. Use a humidifier and rest your eyes by taking frequent, short breaks when reading or using a computer or cellphone. Staring at a computer screen reduces the normal rate of blinking and can result in drying of the eye’s surface.

What are my treatment options?
Schedule a complete eye exam to determine the underlying cause of dry eye syndrome. Your doctor may recommend one of the following:• Dietary supplements

  • Dietary supplements
  • A mild eyelash shampoo
  • Cyclosporine eye drops to help you produce more of your own tears
  • Anti-inflammatory eye drops

Over-the-counter artificial tears may provide relief, but seek medical attention if you use them more than four times a day. Some patients may need to reduce or eliminate wearing contact lenses. Patients with advanced cases may require surgery to close the tear drainage system. 

Continued Q & A:

Can delayed treatment of dry eye syndrome damage a patient's vision?
If left untreated, a patient with dry eye syndrome is at a greater risk for infection and erosions of the cornea. In either case, vision may be affected, possibly with a permanent impairment. 

Once dry eye syndrome develops, can it be cured?  
The condition is chronic. It can be controlled but it cannot be cured.

Would improved hydration--drinking more water--reduce symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
Dehydration affections your entire body but dyhydration is not the source of dry eye syndrome. While hydration is important for your general health, staying hydrated has not been shown to improve the symptoms of dry eyes. 

You mention dietary supplements as a treatment option for dry eye syndrome; what supplements would help?
Omega 3 dietary supplements have been shown to decrease inflammation on the ocular surface and improve dry eyes. Not all omega supplements are the same, however. When taking omega 3s, make sure you are taking a triglyceride formulation rather than an ethyl esther formulation. 

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Watch Your Step – Avoid Foot and Ankle Injuries this Season

Friday, February 17, 2012 7:46 AM comments (0)

Foot-Ankle_InjuryWhat do you do to avoid slipping? Do have a preferred method for staying injury-free?

Our feet and ankles get a workout every day – even if it’s just from walking around the house or to and from the car running errands. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one hour of strenuous exercise puts up to one million pounds of pressure on your feet. Now imagine how much additional stress your feet and ankles can be subjected to when roads and sidewalks are icy and snowy.

Lan Chen, MD, an orthopaedic physician at NorthShore offers her insight on how to avoid a foot or ankle injury this season:

  • Wear the right shoes for the right weather.  High-heeled boots may be fashionable, but flat or low-heeled boots with good traction soles are best for the snow.  Avoid wearing long flowing dresses or coats as they can get tangled with your feet and cause you to lose your balance.
  • Use caution and check for slick walkways or roads when exiting your car or home.  Keep doorways clutter-free and watch out for slippery areas. Most importantly, keep your hands free for better balance and support in case you begin to fall.
  • Don’t ignore an injury.  If you have pain, swelling and inability to put weight on your foot or ankle, or just feel as if something isn’t right, seek medical attention.  Some seemingly minor sprains can lead to significant ligament and cartilage damage resulting in long-term pain, instability and, ultimately, arthritic changes if they are not treated.
  • If you aren’t able to immediately see your doctor, use the R.I.C.E method:
    o    R: Rest your foot or ankle.  Staying off it will minimize pain.
    o    I: Ice your injury to help reduce swelling.  Never put an ice pack directly  
         onto bare skin; use a thin towel to cover the ice pack and ice for 20
         minutes at a time.
    o    C: Compress the area of swelling with an ACE wrap or an elastic brace.
    o    E: Elevate the foot above the level of the heart. 
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Winter Got You Down?

Friday, January 06, 2012 9:05 AM comments (1)

 As the days get shorter and the temperatures continue to drop during winter, some people experience depression-like symptoms. Dr. Robert Farra, Director of Solutions for Depression and Anxiety at NorthShore, shines some light on commonly asked questions relating to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Q: What is seasonal affective disorder?

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same time each year.
  • Anyone can get SAD, but it’s most common with people who live in areas where winter days are short and there is limited sunlight.

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

  • Feeling sad or moody
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable things
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day

Q: How many people are affected?

  • It is estimated that half million (500,000) people in the U.S. have SAD.

Q: Why do many people experience depression before the holidays?

  • Typically the days of little sunshine
  • Stress of the season

Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips?

  • Light therapy may help.  Sitting in front of a high intensity fluorescent lamp (usually 10,000 Lux) for 30 mins to 2 hours can help.
  • Sometimes people respond better to an antidepressant and specialized treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
  • Depression, regardless of cause, shows up as negative thoughts and feelings.  Ruminating about negative thoughts and feelings can bring us down.
  • CBT teaches that negative thoughts and behaviors, while influenced by such things as a lack of sunlight, are still within a person’s ability to change.

Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?

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