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August 21, 2019
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Dry Eye Disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States, with 3.3 million being women and most of those being age 50 or over. And as people live longer, dry eye will continue to be a growing problem.

Although treatment options for dry eyes have improved recently, one of the most effective treatments is avoidance of dry eye triggers.

For some that might mean protecting your eyes from environmental triggers. To do that experts recommend using a humidifier in your home, especially if you have forced hot-air heat; wearing sunglasses when outside to help protect your eyes from the sun and wind that may make your tears evaporate faster; or being sure to direct any fans  - such as the air vents in your car - from blowing directly on your face. For others, it may mean avoiding medications that can cause dry eyes.

There is one other trigger that may need to be avoided that doesn’t get as much notice: The potentially harmful ingredients in cosmetics.

Cosmetics do not need to prove that they are “safe and effective” like drugs do. The FDA states that cosmetics are supposed to be tested for safety but there is no requirement that companies share their safety data with the FDA. There are also no specific definition requirements for labeling cosmetics as “hypoallergenic,” “dermatologist tested,” “ophthalmologist tested,” “sensitive formula” or the like, making most of those labels more marketing than science.

Things to watch out for in your cosmetics if you have dry eye include:

Preservatives

Preservatives are important to prevent the cosmetics from becoming contaminated but many are known to exacerbate dry eye. Common preservatives in cosmetics that could be adding to your dry eye problems (Periman and O’Dell, Ophthalmology Management August 2016) are: BAK (Benzalkonium chloride); Formaldehyde-donating (yes, Formaldehyde!) preservatives (often listed as DMDM-hydantoin, quaternium-15, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol); parabens; and Phenoxyethanol.  All of these preservatives in sufficient quantities can cause ocular irritation or inhibit the function of the Meibomian Glands that produce mucous that coats your tear film and keeps it from evaporating too quickly.

Alcohol

Alcohol is used in cosmetics mostly to speed the drying time but the alcohol can also dry the surface of the eye.

Waxes

Waxes can block the opening of the Meibomian Glands along the eyelid margin. If these glands are blocked they will not be able to supply the mucous and lipids necessary to the tear film to prevent it from drying too quickly. If you have trouble with dry eye it would be advisable not to apply eye liner behind the eyelashes along the lid edge where the Meibomian gland openings are.

Anti-aging products

While these may be safe and effective for the skin of the face they should not be used around the eyes. Most of these products contain some form of Retin A. These products have been shown to be toxic to the Meibomian glands and could be contributing to your dry eyes.

These components of cosmetics do not adversely affect everyone. However, if you suffer from dry eye and are not effectively able to keep your eye comfortable and your vision clear, you should investigate your cosmetics as a potential contributor to your problem.

Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.

There are certain eye conditions where an injection into your eye might be recommended.

Injections into the eye, specifically into the vitreous or gel-filled cavity of the eye, are called intravitreal injections.

In Part 1 of ‘Why Do I Need an Injection in my Eye?’ we talked mostly about anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections. Anti-VEGF injections are probably the most commonly injected agents and they are used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion.  

But there are other injections that may be used as treatment.

Another injected medication used in combination with Anti-VEGF agents to treat wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion are steroids. Additionally, steroids can be used to treat inflammation, or uveitis, in the eye. There is a steroid implant called Ozurdex, that looks like a white pellet and can last up to 3 months in the eye. The downside of steroids is that they can increase eye pressure and cause progression of cataracts.  

Antibiotics are another type of medication that is injected into the eye. Sometimes an infection called endophthalmitis can develop inside the eye. This can occur after eye surgery or a penetrating injury to the eye. The presenting signs and symptoms of endophthalmitis are loss of vision, eye pain and redness of the eye. Bacteria is usually the cause of the infection, and antibiotics are the treatment. The best way to deliver the antibiotics is to inject them directly into the eye.  

Another relatively new injection is Jetrea, an enzyme that breaks down the vitreous adhesions that may develop on the surface of the retina. As we age, the vitreous contracts away from the retinal surface.  When this occurs over the macula, the region responsible for fine vision, the result is visual distortion. Jetrea is an injection that will dissolve the vitreous adhesions and relieve the traction on the retina.  Prior to the advent of Jetrea, the only treatment would have been surgery to physically remove the vitreous jelly and traction on the retina.   

The next time you visit your eye doctor and are told you need an injection of medication, it will likely be one of the above agents.

Article contributed by Dr. Jane Pan

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