Drs. Oz & Roizen's Tip of the Day: Dry eyes can be harmful

February 20, 2014 

When Walt Disney decided to follow the original story line in "Bambi" and keep the scene in which the fawn's mother is killed by a hunter, he took a lot of heat for it, reportedly even from his daughter.

But the result was a movie classic.

But watching "Bambi" won't help the 40 million North Americans who struggle with burning, itchy, sensitive eyes. This irritation is caused by a lack of or poor-quality tears. Tears are made up of water, oil and mucus. Water creates the tears. Oil prevents evaporation. The mucous layer spreads tears across the eye. If there's not enough oil or mucus, you get what's called dry eye. Not enough water? Then you have keratoconjunctivitis sicca - or dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye can be triggered by certain medications, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, eyelid inflammation, blockage of the oil-producing glands, pollution or even LASIK surgery.

Preservative-free artificial tears can ease the discomfort. But chronic dry eye can lead to corneal damage. Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory, is the only available prescription medicine. It increases tear production, but takes up to six months, used twice daily, to get results. Other ways to ease discomfort include keeping indoor humidity above 30 percent, wearing sunglasses and making sure your diet includes plenty of omega-3 fats from salmon, walnuts and avocados. And consider taking 900 IU of DHA omega-3 supplements.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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