This past weekend, Optometry’s Meeting (OM2017) took place in Washington DC where several political aspects of eye health took center stage. One such instance was when 2300 students marched up Capitol Hill in an effort to urge congress to support the DOC Access Act (HR 1606).

Events like this don’t happen often in our field, but advocacy is definitely important. And sometimes students are the best advocates, which is a good thing for me because they can yell louder than I can. But they also have the type of energy that persuades more experienced individuals to do right by them, which triggers results more often than not.

That said, OM2017 is very student oriented, which is a good thing. This allows them to learn the importance of staying engaged, while staying up to date on the best care practices and collaborating with colleagues from all over the globe.

From a personal standpoint, I deal with students from all over the country on a regular basis, and I always encourage their enthusiasm towards our profession. In return, they give ME the type of effort that makes me want to give THEM my all. It’s very satisfying to play a part (albeit a small one) in their progression as professionals. I’m sure the organizers of OM2017 feel the same way.

Dry Eye Updates:

The topic of dry eye has been a hot button issue in optometry for quite some time. The disease (yes, disease) garnered even more attention after the launch of Xiidra last August. Before that, many eye care professionals were clueless to the effects of celebrity endorsements in our field. Now we can confirm they’re probably quite effective.

As far as the treatment of the disease is concerned, we still don’t have all the answers, but we are doing a lot better and patients ARE experiencing more relief.

To recap, some of the main symptoms of Dry Eye Disease (DED) include:

  • Burning (in the eyes)
  • Tearing
  • Fluctuating/Blurry vision
  • Irritation
  • Dryness
  • Foreign body sensation (in one eye, the other or both)
  • Acute awareness of the eyes

It’s relevant to note TrueTear by Allergan will be available soon. This small device will likely become another tool in our dry eye arsenal. TrueTear has two small inserts which are placed inside the nostrils. When activated, the device stimulates tear production to improve.

A New Definition:

Due to the ever-changing landscape of dry eye, a newer definition of the disease was recently released. According to DEWS2, dry eye is now defined as “a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface characterized by a loss of homeostasis of the tear film, and accompanied by ocular symptoms in which tear film instability and hyperosmolarity, ocular surface inflammation, and damage and neurosensory abnormalities play etiological roles.”

Lots of big words there, but the key takeaway is the role of inflammation. Therefore, an adequate dry eye treatment should quell inflammation, which has been a major target of both Restasis and Xiidra.

Like several other systemic diseases, underlying inflammation triggers signs and symptoms. And the best way to deal with inflammation is to stop it from starting in the first place.

Some factors that contribute to inflammation of the eye include:

  • Systemic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Lupus or Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Medications (anti-histamines, anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressive medications or oral contraceptives)
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Suboptimal sleep
  • High levels of stress

Live in Your OcularPrime:

Since inflammation seems to be a significant contributor to dry eye, it may be a wise idea to incorporate some anti-inflammatory behaviors. The addition of anti-inflammatory foods (such as fruits and vegetables) would be a good place to start.

From there, it’s a good idea to keep the body moving, but not in a way that promotes muscle inflammation. If you don’t belong to a gym, try to get outside and take a walk or a jog (even a bike ride). And don’t be afraid to add some strength training. Start with 15 push-ups, 15 sit-ups and 15 air-squats.

Don’t forget mindfulness plays a large part in stressful situations. If you start to feel stressed, take a few deep breaths and try to stay present. You might be surprised as to how much control you actually have over the situation.