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Natural Herbs & Spices That Alleviate Dry Eye Symptoms

Posted on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

spices-1Could alleviating dry eye pain be as simple as spicing up your life a little bit? (No, don’t cue Victoria Beckham- we mean that in a literal sense!) There are plenty of natural herbs and spices that are full of dry eye fighting antioxidants. In fact, you might even find dry eye relief in your own spice cabinet! Intrigued yet? We thought so. Behold, some of the best natural herbs and spices to help prevent your peepers from drying out:

Turmeric
This wonder spice was a hit with our dry eye prone friends. Sometimes known as curcumin, turmeric is an Asian spice that is protective against a number of diseases (including dry eye!). However, there’s a catch: turmeric is not always easily absorbed. Experiment with this natural anti-inflammatory anyway- it may help reduce oxidative stress. (P.S. One of our Facebook friends shared her go-to hot beverage for dry eyes a few months back. Try Janice’s recipe: Warm up some almond milk, sprinkle a tsp of turmeric, ½ tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp cloves. Finish with a dollop of raw honey. Whisk together and voila, an inventive {and delicious} way to incorporate turmeric into your diet!)

Paprika
Paprika has an extremely high concentration of vitamin A, which is great for warding off dry eye symptoms. Other good news about paprika, it’s an extremely versatile ingredient- and just about everyone has it sitting in the spice cabinet. Try using paprika next time you cook. It’s awesome for boosting flavor- and nutrition! Get a dose of paprika by sprinkling it on potato salads, fish, chicken and eggs. 

Bilberry
You may have already heard that bilberry, a shrub closely related to the blueberry, is great for overall eye health and retinal diseases like macular degeneration. Well, it’s also particularly beneficial for dry, itchy eyes. Extracts from the bilberry fruit help to improve blood circulation, oxygen supply and tear gland function. Additionally, bilberries contain vitamin P and citrin, both of which help to decrease swelling and inflammation in the body; a common dry eye trigger. Experiment with bilberry supplements or tea made from bilberry leaves. However, be careful not to over indulge. Ingest no more than 220 mg of bilberry per day.

Mint
Next time you’re tempted to rub those itchy, stinging eyes, try a spearmint eyewash instead. Simply boil about 10-12 leaves of spearmint in some water. Wait until the solution cools (at least 20 minutes!) and then use a clean face cloth to apply the wash to your eyes. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint, actually stimulates tear production and will leave your eyes feeling energized and refreshed. Plus, it smells amazing! Win-win.

Chamomile
Chamomile is known for its cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes tired eyes and can help restore moisture. Another bonus? Drinking chamomile tea makes you feel sleepy and prepares you for rest, so it’s the perfect drink to sip on after a long day.

So, there you have it; options for natural dry eye relief. Of course, the above mentioned are merely a few of the wondrous herbs and spices that can alleviate dry eye pain.  Other potential dry eye fighters include thyme, fennel, marigold and calendula.

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This article is a reprint from AllAboutDryEye.com, which is sponsored by TearLab Corporation and first shown by the SSF in “The Moisture Seekers,” SSF’s patient newsletter.

Topics: Sicca, Dry Eyes, Sjogren's, Treatment

Sjogren's Vs. Sicca Syndrome

Posted on Thu, Aug 21, 2014

Sicca is a word derived from the Latin siccus, meaning “dry.” Dryness of the exocrine glands, particularly the eyes and mouth, is referred to as “sicca syndrome” or “sicca complex” when there is no evidence of autoimmune disease present.  While sicca symptoms occur in the vast majority of Sjögren’s patients, not everyone with these symptoms has Sjögren’s. Because of this, it is important to establish an autoimmune cause for the dryness.  Sometimes other causes may be found, such as radiation therapy to the head, certain medications, or Hepatitis C or HIV infections. If no cause is found, the patient should be followed carefully for possible Sjögren’s because it sometimes takes years for the diagnosis to become clear. 

tms cover 2014 April

Dryness from Sjögren’s may affect any organ in the body that secretes moisture. In addition to changing the quantity and quality of saliva and tears, dryness may manifest in the airways, nasal passages, sinuses, throat, skin, and in women, the vagina. Some Sjögren’s patients initially present with recurrent sinus infections, severe vaginal dryness, chronic dry cough, and so on. All types of specialists, not just eye doctors and dentists, need to keep Sjögren’s in mind as a diagnostic possibility, especially when dryness is severe, persistent, or accompanied by systemic symptoms such as fatigue and widespread muscle and joint pain. Dryness can be quite serious, causing dental disease, eye pain and even visual impairment.  However, these issues should not detract from the often missed point that Sjögren’s is much more than sicca syndrome.  Sjögren’s is a serious systemic autoimmune disease that can affect almost any organ in the body. 

-Sarah Schafer, MD

This information was first printed in the April issue of The Moisture Seeker, SSF's patient newsletter for members. 

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Topics: Diagnosing Sjogren's, Dry Nose, Sinuses, Sicca, Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes, Symptoms, Sjogren's, Fatigue, Vaginal Dryness, Chronic Cough

Dry Eye Lifestyle Dos and Don'ts

Posted on Tue, Jul 29, 2014

describe the imageAs anyone with Sjögren’s knows, many things can exacerbate the discomfort of dryness, while there are other factors that can either soothe the dryness or advance a condition of moisture that can prevent it.

Here are things you can do on a day-to-day basis that can alleviate your symptoms and help you feel and look better.

The Dos:

  • Do Exercise
    Regular exercise unquestionably does all sorts of good things for us. The main medical benefit is perhaps the power to decrease inflammation, which it does through the release of endorphins. For that reason, exercise contributes to the health of the ocular surface. Regular exercise- at least 20 minutes of exercise that increases your heart rate 5x a week- is highly recommended for dry eye sufferers.

  • Do Take Showers
    A hot bath can be a relaxing indulgence, but the steam tends to rise away from you. It's much better to be upright in a shower, with the steam coming at you constantly. Moreover, whether you intend it or not, water from the shower head or bouncing off your body, splatters into your eyes and literally cleans them out.

  • Do Catch some Zzzzzzs
    I cannot emphasize enough how important getting as much sleep as possible is  to mitigating the discomfort of dry eye. A deep sleep, replenishes the tear film and soothes the ocular surface.

  • Do Drink Water
    You should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. That's water- plain and simple- not sodas, sugary juices or artificially flavored drinks. Water is needed by all of the body's organs- by the skin, the kidneys, the liver, the heart and the eyes as well.

  • Do Keep up with Friends & Family
    There is increasing evidence that social interaction is as good for us as exercise, a good night's sleep or eating natural food. It is also a fact that the smile you wear while you're happy with friends can actually reduce the exposure of the ocular surface.

The Don'ts:

  • Don't get Stressed
    Stress can affect many other factors that have a direct impact on dry eye: sleep, your blink rate, and even what you eat. All of that leads to the kind of inflammation that can exacerbate a range of ailments, including a dry eye disorder. There are many different kinds of stress and there are many ways to manage it. Find the way that works for you, and learn as best you can to keep stress at a minimum.

  • Don't work your eyes too long
    Perhaps the most important thing to avoid if you suffer from dry eye is a long stretch of consecutive visual tasking. Whether it's working at a computer, watching television or reading- break up the time you spend doing it.

  • Don't Smoke, Drink Alcohol or Caffeine
    Smoke, alcohol and caffeine all dehydrate the body, including the eyes. Be aware of what these activities are doing to your dry eye, and try to reduce the frequency or eliminate all three if you can.

This information is provided by Robert Latkany, MD
Author of "The Dry Eye Remedy" and Founder & Director of the Dry Eye Clinic at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary

Thank you to our Dry Eye Awareness Month Partner:

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Topics: Diet, Dry Eyes, Symptoms, Sjogren's, Treatment, coping with sjogren's, Chronic Pain

Dry Eye Awareness Month: Ask the Doctor Q&A

Posted on Tue, Jul 08, 2014

July is Dry Eye Awareness Month! The Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation partners with various companies during July to help educate the public about dry eye symptoms, treatment options, and the possible cause being Sjögren’s. We hope you enjoy our July blogs aimed to promote dry eye awareness and education.   

Q) Many eye drops claim to have disappearing preservatives. Are these the equal of preservative- free drops, or should they still be used like eye drops with standard preservatives?

describe the imageA) The development of “disappearing preservatives”  has allowed eye drops to be formulated in multi-use  dropper bottles for convenience without the risk of surface damage that can occur with the more potent and persistent  preservatives. The mechanism by which such new preservatives “disappear” is usually due to chemical changes in the preservative that occur upon exposure to air or the tear film. The most common such chemical reaction is oxidation of the preservative, turning it into an inactive molecule. It must be remembered, nevertheless, that the inactive molecule can be something to which sensitive patients may react. It is worthwhile, therefore, that the patient be alert to any intolerance of such medication which can occur as irritation, discomfort or red eyes. The “disappearing preservative” eye drops can be used up to four times a day in most cases without difficulty and some patients can use them even more frequently than drops with regular preservatives. It should be remembered that other eye drops, particularly those used to treat glaucoma, can contain preservatives as well and, therefore, it is important for patients to keep track of how many drops are being instilled in the eye during the day.

Truly preservative-free eye drops contain no such preservative chemicals but, therefore, require special packaging that limits the amount of the solution in the dropper to usually only one or two drops. The challenges of the smaller packaging can be a nuisance, but if the patient is sensitive to even the “disappearing preservative” this nuisance can be worth the better tolerance to the lubricant.

-Gary N. Foulks, MD

Thank you to our Dry Eye Awareness Month Partner:

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Topics: Disappearing Preservative Eye Drops, Dry Eyes, Symptoms, Sjogren's, Treatment

What is Sjögren’s?

Posted on Fri, Feb 07, 2014

Sjögren’s (pronounced SHOW-grins) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands, significantly decreasing the quantity and quality of saliva and tearsThe disease was first identified by a Swedish physician, Henrik Sjögren, in 1933.

Although the hallmark symptoms are dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue and joint pain, Sjögren’s may cause dysfunction of other organs, affecting the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the nervous system. Patients also have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. 

Today, as many as four million Americans are living with this disease. Learn more about Sjögren's and the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation in this short video:

Watch Steven Taylor, SSF CEO, talk more about the Foundation and the work being done to fulfill our mission of helping patients cope with their Sjögren's, increase awareness, and support research, in this ten question interview:

The SSF exists only because of its members and supporters.

By adding your voice to the fight against Sjögren’s and becoming a member, you are helping to strengthen our organization. When bound together, these voices help the SSF when we advocate for new treatments, new coverage for health insurance and when talking to companies about supporting the SSF.

With each member, the SSF voice will get stronger and we will finally make Sjögren’s a household name. 

Please join with us!

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Topics: Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes, Symptoms, Sjogren's, Joint Pain, Fatigue, Advocacy

Get all the Vital Sjogren's Information on an Audio CD!

Posted on Wed, May 29, 2013

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Missed the 2013 National Patient Conference? Get all the vital information you need on an audio CD!

Five of our most popular talks from the 2013 National Patient Conference held in Bethesda, MD are available for purchase as audio CDs.  Each talk is 30-40 minutes long and comes with the handouts used by the presenter. Buy just the talks you want to hear or purchase the whole set!

 

Click Here to View Audio CDs from Past  SSF National Patient Conferences
Price:
$16 for Members
$30 for Non-members
Click here to learn about SSF membership!

Remember, if you order online you must sign in first to receive the Member discount. If you have any questions about your login information or want to order the CDs over the phone, please call the Foundation at 1-800-475-6473.

Topics: Dry Eyes, Sjogren's, Treatment, coping with sjogren's, National Patient Conference

Top 5 Tips for Treating Dry Eye

Posted on Fri, Oct 05, 2012

  • eye dropsTry ointments or gels at bedtime by first applying them only to the eyelids and lashes. If that is not helpful, place ~1/4 inch of ointment between the lower lid and eyeball. Because it blurs their vision, some individuals may not like using it.

  • If you are bothered by light, wear sunglasses or try lenses with a FL-41 filter.

  • Apply a warm, wet compress to the closed eyes using a washcloth heated in tolerably warm water from the sink or shower. Apply at bedtime and upon awakening for 5 minutes or more often if desired.

  • When starting a new, preservative-free artificial tear, use the drops every 1-2 hours for at least two weeks before reducing frequency of use. When you taper their use, see if your symptoms worsen. It often is easier to determine feeling worse than better.

  • Use non-preserved artificial tears frequently and regularly, even when your eyes feel good. Don’t wait until your eyes are uncomfortable.

Click here to see more tips for treating dry eye

Share with us below what tips you’ve found the most helpful when treating dry eye.

Topics: Dry Eyes, Sjogren's, Treatment, Top 5 Tips

What is blepharitis & how do you treat it?

Posted on Fri, Jul 13, 2012

Blepharitis is a term denoting inflammation of the eyelids. It includes styes and even allergic reactions of the lids. The most common use of the term, however, refers to a condition involving the oil glands of the lid margin (about 20-25 openings in each lid) that produce the outer layer of tears. This oily layer serves to retard evaporation of the tears, thus conserving them. When inflammation affects these oilproducing glands, there is increased aporative loss of tears. Studies have shown that up to two-thirds of patients with Sjögren’s dry eye have this form of blepharitis. This condition is called posterior blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction and is the most common form of dry eye disease.

eye

The most common form of treatment is the use of moist heat to the lids, cleansing of the lid margins and the use of oral antibiotics such as tetracycline. This regimen can result in significant improvement of the symptoms of irritation and pain. In more severe cases the use of locally applied steroids can be helpful. Current research is studying the use of locally applied hormone preparations and newer antibiotics to reduce inflammation and normalize the oil secretion.

By Michael A. Lemp, MD

     

Topics: Dry Eyes, Sjogren's, Treatment, Blepharitis

Sjogren’s and Punctal Plugs: Pros and Cons

Posted on Tue, May 01, 2012

Punctal plugs have both pros and cons. The pros are that they are a safe method to retain tears on the ocular surface and have value in relieving symptoms when tear production is borderline or if the duration of applied tear substitutes needs to be prolonged. They are helpful as adjunctive treatment in the management of dry eye disease.

The cons are that when applied in the presence of inflammation that can occur as part of dry eye disease, they may aggravate symptoms by allowing the inflamed tear to have prolonged contact with the surface of the eye. Therefore, my recommendation is to treat the underlying inflammation before placing the plugs. Another con is that they can fall out and need frequent replacement. Rarely, the plug can provoke a localized inflammatory reaction in the tissue of the eyelid and produce a granuloma at the opening of the tear drainage puncta.

On balance, punctal plugs are a useful adjunctive treatment for dry eye disease but should be used in conjunction with other therapies to control inflammation.

By Gary Foulks, MD

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Topics: Dry Eyes, Sjogren's, Treatment, Punctal Plugs

Sjogren’s, More Than Dry Mouth and Dry Eyes

Posted on Mon, Apr 09, 2012

One of the main difficulties with diagnosing Sjögren’s is that symptoms vary from person to person. Often patients will visit their dentist for dry mouth or excessive tooth decay and then their primary physician for joint pain and fatigue. This makes it difficult for both the patient and physician to put the symptoms together.

As we continue on the road of achieving our breakthrough goal of shortening the time to diagnose Sjögren’s by 50% in 5 years, it is important to first identify the main reasons why people go to the doctor and seek a diagnosis.

In a recent survey of over 4,000 Sjögren’s patients, it was discovered that the four main reasons patients sought a diagnosis (in order) were:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

While we know Sjögren’s is much more than just the 4 hallmark symptoms of fatigue, joint pain, dry eyes and dry mouth, it is important to note that dry eyes and dry mouth are the two top symptoms that caused patients to seek a diagnosis.

What is also important to note is that in the same survey, dry eyes and dry mouth were ranked #1 and #2 for symptoms patients currently still experience after diagnosis:

Common Symptoms Experienced by Patients Post Diagnosis were:

  • 92% Dry eyes
  • 91% Dry mouth
  • 86% Sleep disruption

This is why, it is imperative that we reach out to dentists, dental hygienists, ophthalmogists, optometrists and rheumatologists with information about Sjögren’s and its hallmark symptoms.These are the physicians who are on the front lines and can help speed up a  diagnosis of Sjögren’s.

So remember, the Foundation offers “Dry Eyes,” “Dry Mouth” and “What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?” brochures to all medical offices, free of charge. We hope you will consider taking some of them to your next doctor visit! Sign up to be an Awareness Ambassador or help us spread the word about Sjögren’s by distributing brochures!

Just call our office and request some brochures and we will mail them to you. Or have your doctor’s office contact us or sign-up online for brochures. Visit www.sjogrens.org or call us at 800-475-6473.

 

Click here to learn about becoming an  Awareness Ambassador

Topics: Diagnosing Sjogren's, Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes

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