Dry eyes are reportedly the primary complaint of 80% of Ophthalmology patients in the United States. Worldwide, dry eye disease is a public health crisis often leading to visual impairment or blindness. 100 United States cities are listed as "dry eye hot spots." Untreated dry eyes can lead to painful, debilitating and sight threatening eye diseases (Sharon Kleyne Hour, 2008, 2009).
And yet the highly complex causes of dry eyes are only beginning to be understood (Mathers, 2005).
That was the conclusion of eye health advocate Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water syndicated radio show and founder of Bio-Logic Aqua Research. In a recent interview, Mrs. Kleyne described current levels of understanding of the causes of dry eye disease.
According to Mrs. Kleyne, the causes of dry eyes may be grouped into the following general categories (all from Mathers, 2005):
Evaporation: The eyes' all-important tear film is 99% water. This water would quickly evaporate were it not for a microscopically thin layer of lipid (oil) covering the tear film's surface. In a normal eye, only a small percentage of tears evaporate but poor lipid production (from tiny glands in the eyelids) can greatly increase evaporation ("Dry eye" is defined as "a loss of tear film water," either due to increased evaporation or to decreased tear production).
Environmental: Even with good lipid production, certain environmental factors can speed up tear film evaporation. This includes dust, chemical fumes, dry air, air pollution, polluted humidity, insulated walls and windows, and forced-air heating and cooling. These irritating environmental factors also create surface inflammation on the eyes and skin, and contribute to eye allergies.
Situational and lifestyle circumstances: Improper diet, not drinking enough water, high stress, not enough sleep, allergic triggers (pollen and mold), excessive computer use (which increases tear film water evaporation by greatly reducing the blink rate of the eyelids), contact lenses, sports, perspiration, pool chlorine and many common medications can all increase tear film water evaporation and reduce tear film water content.
Age: Production from the eye's tear glands gradually decreases with age, resulting in increased dry eye symptoms. The exact reason is unclear but may relate to hormonal changes, including decreased production (in both genders) of the male hormones androgen and testosterone.
LASIK: LASIK surgery induced dry eyes may be more common than previously believed and, while usually temporary, can be severe. The condition has been attributed to either loss of tear stimulation due to the cutting of corneal nerves or to trauma-induced inhibition of hormonal feedback signals between the ocular surface and tear glands.
Inflammation: Dry eye disease is frequently associated with inflammation somewhere in the body. The majority of patients with dry eyes show decreased production of anti-inflammatory mediators such as lactoferrin.
Blepharitis: Blepharitis (eye lid inflammation) is also closely associated with dry eyes. Blepharitis can cause dysfunction of the lipid (oil) producing glands, located in the eyelid. Lipids are critical to helping slow tear film water loss due to evaporation.
Autoimmune: Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by extreme dry mouth and dry eyes. Ten-percent of chronic dry eye patients also show symptoms of Sjogren's.
The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water, is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua Research, whose patented Nature's Tears® EyeMist® is the only all-natural, all water personal hand-held eye humidifying device that instantly supplements natural tear film water to relieve dry eyes. Nature's Tears® EyeMist® is available at www.BioLogicAqua.com, Amazon.com, drugstore.com and selected drugstores nationwide.
The website for the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water radio show (www.SharonKleyneHour.com) contains archived on-demand replays and printable summaries of Sharon Kleyne's interviews with leading eye health experts. The syndicated show is broadcast live Mondays at 10 a.m., PST/PDT, on Voice America/World Talk Radio, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes. Also visit www.naturestears.com, whatistheeye.wordpress.com, "Nature's Tears EyeMist" on Facebook and "Bio-Logic Aqua" on Twitter.
Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water, show archives, www.SharonKleyneHour.com, 9-28-08, 4-7-08, 6-1-09
Mathers, W, Tear Film and Treatment of Dry Eye Disease, © 2005 RxSchools.com.
© 2012 Bio-Logic Aqua Research (129)