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The Telegram
  • Health Watch: Dry eye — dealing with a common issue

  • GHNS' weekly Health Watch, with tips on managing and relieving dry eye, maintaining physical activity during the holidays, and caregivers' fight against Alzheimer's.

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  • Dry eye affects up to 40 million Americans, and it has many causes and a variety of symptoms. Those who suffer from dry eye know one thing: It can be very uncomfortable. Common dry eye symptoms include scratchiness or grittiness, the feeling of a foreign particle in the eye, redness and even excessive reflex watering.
    Attacking the cause vs. the symptoms. The underlying factor in dry eye syndrome is inflammation. Reducing inflammation on the surface of the eye and regulating the glands that produce tears are essential to effectively managing dry eye. Artificial tears and rewetting drops may offer temporary relief, but this only treats the symptom.
    How the tear film affects dry eye. The tear film has three layers: a water layer, an oil layer and a mucous layer. The mucous layer is located on the eye surface and provides natural lubrication. The next layer is the water layer, produced by a gland under the upper eyelid. Finally, the outermost layer is the oil layer, which is produced by glands along the rim of the eyelid; this layer protects the water layer from evaporating too quickly. When any or all of the layers are not functioning correctly, the tears may become unstable or the tears may evaporate too quickly, resulting in dry eye.
    Common causes of dry eye. During winter months, many experience dry eye as humidity levels drop and home heating systems are activated resulting in drier air. This often causes tears to evaporate more quickly. Other leading causes of dry eye include aqueous gland dysfunction. In this situation, tear-producing glands do not produce enough tear volume, or there is less-than-optimal tear composition. Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to dry eye as soft lens materials require additional lubrication and a balanced tear film is vital to successful lens wearing. In many cases, medicated eye drops may exacerbate dry eye in contact lens wearers. It is estimated that up to half of contact lens wearers discontinue use due to discomfort often caused by dry eye.
    Relieving dry eye. Many doctors and patients reach for an eye drop to provide immediate relief of dry eye. Unfortunately, that immediate relief is temporary. Much has been written about Omega-3s in recent years including its use as an effective treatment of dry eye. As a natural anti-inflammatory, Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that support healthy tear production and keep eyes moisturized. In addition to Omega-3s, other anti-inflammatory ingredients like vitamins A, D3, E, turmeric extract, green tea, and evening primrose oil, can significantly accelerate the time it takes to feel dry eye relief. Many eye care professionals are recommending oral anti-inflammatories as a first step to reduce ocular surface inflammation and regulate gland function without the unwanted side effects noted with topical agents.
    Page 2 of 3 - Managing dry eye. Leading eye care professionals agree that dry eye is an ongoing issue that cannot be cured, but can be effectively managed. Oral dry eye vitamins feature all natural ingredients, and provide dry eye relief from the inside by reducing inflammation and regulating healthy tear production.
    Get a jump on dry eye season this winter. Consult with your eye doctor about an exam to determine the type of dry eye you may have, and for more information on oral anti-inflammatory eye vitamins.
    -- Brandpoint
    New Research
    A new study published in "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience" shows that kids who come from lower socioeconomic families have a harder time ignoring insignificant environmental information. Due to the fact that lower income children learn how to pay attention to things differently, brain function and development can be impacted by their families' background. Amedeo D'Angiulli, from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and his team discovered that higher- and lower-income children display differences in theta brain waves in the frontal lobe, a major area involved in attention.
    -- medicalnewstoday.com
    Health Tip: Maintain physical activity during holiday travels
    Although it seems like travelers spend a lot of time sitting in a car, there are many opportunities to maintain physical activity while you are traveling. Check ahead to see if there is a gym or a suitable place to walk around your destination. Places like a zoo or park are great places to get exercise, while still exploring the area. Simple things like taking the stairs in the hotel instead of the elevator are always a good choice to increase physical activity.
    -- Brandpoint
    Number to Know
    12,200: Estimated number of new HIV cases among young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also stated that most of these youth living with HIV (60 percent) are unaware they are infected.
    -- cdc.gov
    Boomer's Health: Alzheimer's caregivers can fight the disease
    Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is challenging under the best of circumstances. Across the United States, more than five million people ages 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer's disease (AD). And over 15 million more Americans — family members, friends, neighbors and volunteers — provide unpaid care for a loved one with AD.
    What makes this disease particularly heartbreaking is feeling helpless against it — there's no way to prevent Alzheimer's, keep it from progressing, or cure it. But there are ways for caregivers, and the patients and loved ones they care for, to help in the fight against Alzheimer's. One of the most important is through the act of volunteering in Alzheimer's research studies.
    Page 3 of 3 - One study which is helping spur new discoveries is being slowed by a lack of AD patient volunteers. The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is the largest and most comprehensive research effort on AD to date, and is offering the data it gathers to scientists around the globe to inform and speed new treatments. There are a number of ongoing clinical trials, and many more about to start, aimed at slowing disease progression with drug treatment. All of these trials are using the diagnostic methods developed through ADNI. If the availability of ADNI data is slowed down, it slows down the entire field.
    "Effective medical research is our best hope in Alzheimer's. And participating in studies is one important way caregivers can help," said Dr. Michael Weiner, primary investigator of ADNI, as well as a caregiver to his 96-year old mother with AD. "It takes everybody's involvement — researchers, doctors, patients, friends, family members, trial participants and caregivers — to fight this disease."
    To volunteer or learn more about the ADNI study, contact the National Institute on Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at (800) 438-4380, or visit www.adni-info.org.
    -- Family Features
    GateHouse News Service

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