The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1154: How to Take Good Care of Your Eyesight (Archive)

Find out how you can take good care of your eyesight. What are the best ways to manage dry eyes and protect yourself from macular degeneration?
Peter J. McDonnell, MD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
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How to Take Good Care of Your Eyesight (Archive)

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A national survey just a few years ago showed that Americans fear losing their vision more than they fear losing a limb, their hearing, their ability to speak or even their memory (Scott et al, JAMA Ophthalmology, October 2016). What do you know about how to take good care of your eyesight?

What Can You Do About Dry Eyes?

Dry eye is a very common condition with multiple possible causes. Tears have three different components. One is the liquid water phase. There is also a lipid phase that prevents rapid evaporation. In addition, a mucus phase helps the tears spread evenly over the surface of the eye. It is not just the quantity of tears but also their quality that matters.

What can affect this? In certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or acne rosacea, dry eye syndrome signals a systemic problem. Medications such as antihistamines may also cause dry eyes. In addition, people staring at their computer screens or phones may forget to blink. This can quickly dry eyes out as well. Blinking more often can help, as can hot compresses. Our guest shared a home remedy for a stye on the eyelid: Microwave a small potato, wrap it in a dishtowel and hold it to the inflamed spot for 15 or 20 minutes. It stays hot much longer than a wet washcloth does. In addition, a Mediterranean diet rich in fish and olive oil provides dietary support to prevent dry eyes.

Tips to Take Good Care of Your Eyesight:

Ophthalmologists recognize diabetic retinopathy as the leading cause of visual impairment among working-age Americans. As a result, anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes should see their eye doctor for regular screening.

Among older adults, the leading cause of vision problems is age-related macular degeneration. In this condition, damage to the center of the retina impairs central vision, making it hard to read, play golf or even recognize friends’ faces.

Advances to Help You Take Good Care of Your Eyesight:

Pharmacological advances have improved treatment of both age-related macular degeneration and another disease that becomes more common with aging, glaucoma. Glaucoma is often linked to increased pressure in the eye. In this condition, vision begins to fail at the periphery first. Unfortunately, people may not even notice the problem until it becomes fairly severe. That’s why ophthalmologists measure eye pressure at every visit.

Learn More:

You can learn more about how to take good care of your eyesight, reduce the likelihood of nearsightedness in children, use optical coherence tomography (imaging of the retina) to detect early Alzheimer’s disease by listening to the interview. Additionally, the podcast also includes information on vitamins to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and a discussion of cataract prevention and treatment.

This Week’s Guest:

Peter J. McDonnell, MD, is the director of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3  (Where it says “Choose CD or MP3 Version” above the “Add to Cart” button, select mp3.)

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I had delivery duty @ Bausch and Laumb. Made an international periodical mailer per month. I am in favor of being as plain as possible with my eyes unless controlled by a doctor. Cold water treatment soothes and replenishes eye comfort. No self treatment for these raisin-brown beauties of my vision. Eyes have IT.

I had cataract surgery a bit over a year ago. Prior to surgery, I could barely see with my left eye. The surgery, however, changed my life. On surgery day I was sedated, and it seemed as though I awoke seconds later and could again see. My focus is sharp, red is redder, blue is bluer, green is greener and so on.

Cataract surgery brightened my life at an extremely affordable price. With Medicare and an insurance supplement, my total out of pocket cost for everything, doctor, surgery, and medicines was $100.
Jon Sioux Falls, SD

You mentioned that opthalmologists check pressure at every visit. Optometrists also check pressure at every visit.

What is a VDP?

An eye doctor told me to not get water into my eyes. This is especially true for people with contact lenses.

I don’t have an mp3 player. Can podcasts be streamed to an iPhone?
Thx for the above information. It is very helpful. Dixie

I use an eye mask to keep my eyes covered in case I sleep with my eyes open! Also, I use an OTC eyelid scrub to clean my lids from dandruff on my eye lashes! Now my eyes no longer hurt when I blink!!!
My ophthalmologist suggested the scrub and mask when I saw him for the pain of my right eye last month. Try them, and see if they will help you also!

I don’t exactly think getting a shot in your eye every 4-6 weeks as being much of a miracle – especially if it costs 1200 bucks a pop! I am in early stage AMD, and I suppose I’ll have to do this “creepy” treatment when the day comes but a “REAL” miracle would be to have another treatment that didn’t involve a needle coming at you!!!

My doc recommended TEAR GEL at night because we sometimes sleep with our eyelids partly open. Works for me.

I went to the dr, and he told me I have very dry eyes. He told me to use liquid tears, eye gel and warm compresses. Nothing worked. Then I stopped using my eye makeup, and my dry eye is about 90% better. Just using the liquid tears occassionally is enough. I am amazed the dr never talked to me about eye makeup!

Did he address double vision of both eyes? I think I bumped my head two years ago. I have prisms in my glasses, but would appreciate getting both eyes lined up. I am 79 years old, have had MRI of brain, etc

I had cataract surgery in April and May (both eyes). Loved the clarity of vision. One morning I work up thinking one heck of a lightning storm was happening, but heard no thunder. Well, it was a VDP in my right eye. The doctor warned me this could happen. I now have a gray gauze like curtain that flutters across my right eye. It drives me nuts but there is nothing to do for it. It may or may not eventually go away. Hopefully, it will settle down to the bottom of eye and go away. I am now at a higher risk of retinal detachment in this eye. So the takeaway is that there is risk in any procedure.

I found that taking the Omega 3s made a great improvement. I used to keep eye drops by my bed because I used to wake up with dry eyes. No more need for that. I hardly ever use the drops.
I mentioned it during one of my eye exams, and the Dr. said that Omega 3s are becoming a standard treatment now for dry eyes.

I take 1 Tablespoon of Flax Seed oil daily. I just take it usually with some prune juice (juice is not for eyes, lol) It has been a godsend. I’d like to share it with the world.

WE found the program most beneficial. Having AMD, it was good to hear that my doctor is actually following Dr. McDonnell’s recommendations. He has me on AREDS II, and I have the retina scan annually. I now understand the treatment procedures better. Thanks for informing us.

My wife listened to the initial radio broadcast and said there was some mention of a bonus about taking over the counter vitamins, etc. I do not see or hear any reference. Could you direct me?

It is in the mp3 you listened to on the website.

I believe my dry eyes stem from Lazik eye surgery for cataracts. Instead of eye drops, I use water by wetting my hands and tipping my head back. I bring the water to my eyes flooding them and blinking in the process. Saves $.

As long as the faucet, your hand, and the water are not contaminated.

I have had dry eye for over 10 years. I have found that a small yoga “eye pillow” works very well to maintain warmth over several minutes. The first one I used was filled with flax seed, which was not an ideal seed to heat repeatedly because of the oil content. I emptied out the flax seed and filled my pillow with plain dry rice. This works wonderfully. I heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds and it stays just the right temperature for at least 10 minutes.

💡Low contrast thin line print is difficult to read even with glasses 😫❗️❗️

I’m interested in hearing what products folks use for their dry eyes. I have had the Prokera lens used in both eyes but I still use drops at night. I’ve tried all the products but still haven’t found a perfect one.

One ophthalmologist told me he likes Refresh Liquigel or Systane. I found the Refresh product more comfortable to use. Also, CVS makes a compress that is heated in the microwave and holds the heat well. It consists of an oval-shaped pouch with a clear plastic cover and what looks like small, colored beads inside. It gets placed inside a small, velvety bag and gets heated in the microwave. Using a washcloth heated in the micrwave got so hot that my eyelids bled on two occasions. The velvety bag is soothing and I haven’t had any singed eyelids since. It costs around $10.50.

What is a prokera lens?

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