Eye Health with Dr. Travis Zigler: Rational Wellness Podcast 046
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Dr. Travis Zigler speaks about Eye Health with Dr. Ben Weitz.
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1:42 Dr. Zigler mentions some of the conditions of the eye that we can improve with diet and lifestyle changes, including dry eye, macular degeneration, gluacoma, and cataracts.
3:01 Dr. Zigler explains how to prevent and treat dry eye, including an anti-inflammatory plant based diet with lots of leafy green vegetables. He also recommends drinking a lot of water to hydrate the body and the eyes. Warm compresses and massage to the eyelids can help to soften and facilitate the flow of oil from the Meibomian glands that help to keep the eyes moist. Dr. Zigler also recommends using a spray cleanser on the eyes using hypocholous acid to kill bacteria that often develop on the eyelids and cause blepharitis.
6:52 We discussed the benefits of taking omega 3 fish oils and eating fish as well as whether it is a good idea or not to rub coconut oil into the eyes for lubrication.
9:22 There are a number of medications that can result in dry eyes, including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control medications, and blood pressure medications. Thyroid disease (both hyper and hypo), high blood pressure, and diabetes also tend to lead to dry eyes. Also post-menopausal hormone imbalances can result in dry eyes.
11:42 We talked about how blue light from computers, TVs, and phones results in dry eyes and macular degeneration.
13:50 Dr. Zigler explained dietary approaches that can help to prevent or reverse macular degeneration, including supplements like lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, zinc, and omega-3s, and eating kale and spinach.
18:00 We discussed whether exercises for the eye, such as the Bates method, can help to improve eyesight. There is also something called vision therapy that helps the eyes to work together better and helps with conversion insufficiency, conversion excess, and a few other problems.
21:45 Dr. Zigler explained what causes floaters in the eye.
23:30 We discussed glaucoma and what can be done about it.
28:20 Dr. Zigler discussed cataracts, what causes them, such as vitamin C deficiency, and what to do about cataracts.
Dr. Travis Zigler is an Opthamologist who provides information and natural products for eye health at his website, eyelovethesun.com, where you can also check out his blog. He also encourages listeners to check out dryeyecommunity.com
Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure as well as chiropractic work by calling the office 310-395-3111.
Dr. Weitz: This is Dr. Ben Weitz with the Rational Wellness Podcast, bringing you the cutting-edge information on health and nutrition from the latest scientific research and by interviewing top experts in the field. Please subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast on iTunes and YouTube, and sign up for my free e-book on my website by going to drweitz.com. Let’s get started on your road to better health.
Hey, Rational Wellness podcasters. Thank you so much for joining me again today. I’m really excited that we are going to be talking about eye health, which is so important and we’d never had a conversation about eye health. I just wanted to mention if you appreciate this podcast and you enjoy it, please subscribe on either iTunes or YouTube and please go to iTunes and give me a positive review that will help more people find out about it.
So our interview today is with Dr. Travis Zigler. He is an ophthalmologist and he is the CEO of Eye Health. So we want to talk about what things we can do to improve the health of your eyes. We constantly talk about the health of the gut and the thyroid and all the other systems in the body, but we’d never talked about improving eye health and how important is that. If you don’t have the health of your eyes boy, that’s real bomber so.
Travis, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Zigler: Hey, thanks Dr. Weitz for having me on. I’m excited to be here.
Dr. Weitz: Good, good, good. So what are some of the conditions of the eye that we can improve with a healthier diet and lifestyle?
Dr. Zigler: So conditions that, I mean, any condition of the eye is pretty much improved through a healthy diet and lifestyle, because most of the eye problems that are occurring are due to inflammation, so just reducing that inflammation. Examples would be the one that we specialized in is dry eye. We have a whole line of dry eye products that we use to help with that called Heyedrate. Then dry eyes are big one because dry eye is inflammation and then macular degeneration is another inflammatory disease in the back of the eye. Macular degeneration is where the macula of your eye where light is focused starts to degenerate. It doesn’t go through its metabolic process as well and therefore accumulates waste product, which then causes it to degenerate. Glaucoma is another condition. We don’t really know what causes glaucoma, but I never see glaucoma in healthy individual. It’s always in somebody that has a lot of inflammation with diabetes and high blood pressure. Then cataracts are another one. Everybody gets cataracts eventually, but there are some things that help speed those up.
So those are the kind of four main diseases that we focus on with eye care and then just keeping your eye healthy in general is, I mean, following the path that you can lead your patients and your listeners down to.
Dr. Weitz: Great. So let’s start with dry eye. I understand that dry eyes is real risk factor for damage to the cornea.
Dr. Zigler: Yes.
Dr. Weitz: What are some of the therapies and techniques we can use to prevent or cure dry eyes?
Dr. Zigler: So dry eye is this kind of multifactorial disease, meaning there’s a lot of things that go into it all the way from your eyelids to the surface of your eye where like you stated the cornea is. So I always like to start out my therapy for dry eye with diet, because all this inflammation is occurring and inflammation begets inflammation so it creates this kind of cascading pattern of just more and more dryness, the more inflammation that you have. So if we start out with a diet and start shifting patients into an anti-inflammatory diet with leafy green vegetables and probably some things that you talk about too. Leafy green vegetables I talk about hydration, switching to more of a plant-based diet. You’re going back to hydration, 80% of people are dehydrated in this world and simply getting in a floater can eliminate a lot of disease. Then I usually start them on a simple exercise regimen of just walking to your mailbox and back a day. Some people just need that simple starter-
Dr. Weitz: Very ambitious…just walking to your mailbox.
Dr. Zigler: It is, but some people that is a lot of walking in a day. So it’s getting them started in that kind of loop to get them exercising and then add five minutes a week to get them going. Then what I usually do is focus on eyelid health first. So a lot of people don’t realize that the eyelids play a crucial role in dryness because they have oil glands called Meibomium glands. These oil glands every time you blink, they secrete or put out oil onto your eye. This oil is responsible for keeping your eye lubricated and comfortable. So these oil glands if they’re not producing oil well enough, if the oil is getting hardened or if your glands are clogged, that’s going to cause that oil not to get out. Therefore that oil layer responsible for keeping your eye lubricated, keeping the tears on the surface, is not there. Therefore your tears are going to evaporate and your eyes are actually going to start watering more because that oil layer of tears isn’t there.
So we talk about warm compresses. Warm compresses heat up that oil, turn it into more of a liquid. We then massage the eyelids, so just closing your eye and gently massaging it. That’s going to help break up those oils get them flowing again. Eating healthier oils like omega-6s and omega-3s. The key thing is there’s healthy omega-6s and healthy omega-3s. Americans get a lot of omega-6s in their diet. Unfortunately, it’s from bad oils, but you want to get good oils like avocados and chia seeds and ground flaxseed, things like that. That’s a good balance of getting those omega-6s and omega-3s in your diet. Then nuts, of course, that’s always a good thing as well.
Combining good oils coming in with those warm compresses with a good hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser sounds crazy because I said acid and it’s going near your eye. This is actually a natural mechanism that your body uses to battle bacteria. If bacteria overgrows on your eyelid, it creates a condition called blepharitis. So again, we’re getting that eyelid under control so battling the bacteria that can become overgrown. The bacteria like I said is normal, but it can become overgrown. So using a hypochlorous acid solution helps your body’s natural ability to fight the bacteria that’s there and then getting the oil glands in place. So just cleaning up the eyelid helps tremendously with dry eye.
That’s kind of the first steps of therapy as diet, exercise, hydration, warm compresses, lid massage and then using a hypochlorous acid cleanser. That’s going to get people going in the right direction and then that is usually where I start them and then we can go further in the therapy if you want. Did you have any questions over anything that I just went over?
Dr. Weitz: Sure. What about eating fish and fish oil to increase your omega-3s? That’s one question. The second question is, I saw people advocating rubbing coconut oil directly into the eye. What do you think about that?
Dr. Zigler: Yes, so I’ll talk about both of those. So fish oil is very controversial. I’ll put that-
Dr. Weitz: Not in my world.
Dr. Zigler: Not in your world, okay good. I believe in omega-3s. Omega-3s are great. With fish, unfortunately our oceans are becoming so contaminated that it’s hard to find pure fish oil and fish oil capsule. So if you do take an omega-3, make sure it comes from a good manufacturing practice lab or supplement company and then-
Dr. Weitz: Yes, yes, we only use professional brands and they’re molecularly distilled, so they are free of mercury or PCBs or anything else in them.
Dr. Zigler: Yes, so we developed an omega-3 fish oil that’s specifically formulated for dry eye. We searched long and hard for our manufacturer and we get it out of the seas over by Iceland and it’s very sustainable source of fish. So that’s what you want to look for when you’re doing this and look for a less polluted area because the oceans unfortunately are getting polluted. Yes, they do play a big role and then eating fish, try to stay away from farm raised all the way. Always eat wild caught and that’s pretty much for everything, organic food instead of traditionally grown even though I think it’s reversed, because traditionally grown was organic and then it became pesticides. Yes, anyway, and that’s it. What was the second question? I’m sorry.
Dr. Weitz: What about rubbing coconut oil directly into the eyes?
Dr. Zigler: So as an eye doctor, I can’t really recommend that just because there’s no studies that support it. Again, it’s coconut oil so it is a very good oil. Just make sure it’s organic, unrefined and if it causes any reaction, stop using it. I never recommend directly to my customers or my patients to do that and a lot of my customers online have seen success with it. So I’m not against it, but I can’t say I’m for it just because there’s no studies that support it. Because there’s no money in it from a pharmaceutical standpoint, so pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to study it.
Dr. Weitz: Correct. So do you recommend … Well, if I was going to choose a coconut oil to rub in my eyes, would it be extra virgin?
Dr. Zigler: Yes, so go with the highest quality you can, organic, extra virgin, just as pure as you can go.
Dr. Weitz: I also saw there’s a whole series of medications like antihistamine, decongestant, even antidepressant, birth control medications, blood pressure medications that could all increase the risk of dry eyes as well as a whole bunch of common disorders like thyroid disease and diabetes.
Dr. Zigler: Well, you covered the medications. I don’t have to say anything, you covered them all. Yes, so medications definitely. The problem with Western medicine and we follow more of an Eastern medicine approach, which I’m sure you do, is if you try to find the root cause of the problem of it and look at dry eye as a symptom instead of actual disease, you’re then going to solve the issue that’s causing the dry eye in the first place. Whereas in Western medicine, what we’re doing and what I was trained; I don’t think you are trained this way but I was, is there’s a disease here treated with this medication. Now the unfortunate thing is this medication then causes three more diseases or three more side effects. So the problem with decongestants and Lasix for high blood pressure and antidepressant is they’re treating a condition but causing other diseases. So that’s why I recommend going for the root cause first versus going after a disease with the medication and then battling these other diseases because of it.
Now as far as other diseases that cause dry eye, thyroid is a big one. So hyper and hypo both cause it because hyper can cause your eyes kind of be opened more. So if your eyes are opened more, that’s going to cause more dryness because of exposure. Then hypothyroidism just because your hormones are out of balance. Postmenopausal females are the most common customer online because of hormonal imbalance, so that hormonal imbalance causes just a dryness in general. Then there’s lots of other diseases that can cause this. Diabetes is a big one just because their whole body is inflamed. High blood pressure is a big one because, again, their whole body is inflamed. So we always see this kind of low-grade inflammation taking place in our patients and then around the ages of 40, 50 and 60s, when all these diseases hit including diabetes, high blood pressure and dry eye. It only just takes kind of a shift in your awareness and belief of how you treat these things to solve these problems.
Dr. Weitz: Interesting. So is spending a lot of time on computers and looking at our phones is that bad for our eyes?
Dr. Zigler: Yes, so definitely. So phones, computers, TVs, they all emit blue light. What blue light is, it’s normal. So blue light ray comes out when the sun raises or sun rises. When the sun rises, blue light tells your body to wake up. So that’s why the sky is blue because you see blue light. As the sun sets, blue light goes away and body starts producing melatonin and that tells our body to go to sleep. Now the unfortunate thing is that we get all this blue light from our screens, from our TVs, from our smartphones and we’re doing this right up until bedtime. As we’re doing that, it’s not letting us get into our deep REM sleep and therefore we’re not getting as much rest. Not getting as much rest or getting kind of tossing and turning rest leads to more dry eye because you’re not sleeping and recovering.
Then also blue light can cause macular degeneration. These are studies that came out in the ’80s for blue light causing macular degeneration. That was before smartphones and before computers remained stay and before flat panel TVs were emitting tons of blue light. So it’s scary for me to think about people my age, millennials and younger that have grown up with this technology, how their eyes are going to be in 40 to 50 years, hopefully in that time we’ll have a cure for macular degeneration, which I think we will. It’s scary to think about the disease that could happen if we don’t have a cure for it. So I always recommend blue blockers, which I have on right now. These are about 30% blue light blocking and these are great during the day. So when I’m on my computer, it still allows blue light to come through because you need blue light. It is healthy during the day. Then I put my 100% on blue blockers around 7:00 PM at night and then those helped me get that melatonin production up before I go to sleep. Then I also always recommend getting off your computer for about two hours, computers, smartphones, TVs for about two hours before you go to bed too.
Dr. Weitz: Great. So what about macular degeneration? I hear about that a lot. It seems to be really common especially people in their 50s and 60s.
Dr. Zigler: Yes.
Dr. Weitz: I’ve heard about there are specific supplements, formulas for macular degeneration. They typically have ingredients like carotenoids, like lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc, omega-3s. How much of a role can diet and supplements play in preventing or reversing macular degeneration?
Dr. Zigler: It is huge. I think it’s bigger than what we actually know, because it’s not studied as much. Just like I said before, pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to sponsor studies on diet because there’s no money in it for them. So it’s very hard to find the diet that’s or study that’s related diet to macular degeneration. I’ve seen patients that have completely reversed and macular degeneration is an irreversible condition according to most textbooks. I’ve seen patients reversed macular degeneration just by changing to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, getting rid of their mineral deficiency, getting rid of their vitamin deficiency. When you’re looking at vitamins, make sure it does follow the AREDS2 formulation. AREDS2 stands for age-related eye disease study. Two means it was their second go-around for their study. They’re probably doing a third study right now. Just like you just talked about, the vitamins A, C and E were studied pretty intensively, lutein, zeaxanthin, all those phytochemicals. I always recommend getting it through your diet first and the easiest way to do that is kale and spinach. Adding those to your diet on a daily basis makes a huge difference in lutein and zeaxanthin. Then take the supplement as it’s intended to be taken as a supplement too in already healthy diet. So we have in our ocular health formula that’s based around the AREDS2 formula. We went beyond AREDS2 because we added some other minerals in there that help out with preventing macular degeneration from getting worst. These were kind of more independent studies that were done. They haven’t studied it in the AREDS study yet so that’s why they haven’t released it yet as a fish oil. The diet is huge.
Dr. Weitz: So just to get into the weeds a little bit is for those geeks like me, as far as the particular carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin seemed to be mentioned all the time and I’ve seen those in some of the studies. I’ve also heard some people mentioned astaxanthin, but that doesn’t seem to be part of that AREDS formula. In cryptoxanthin, which I guess comes from corn, is another one that I’ve heard mentioned. Does it matter or did you want to just get all those carotenoids? Which one is really the most important?
Dr. Zigler: So I think the best one is like you said the one that’s talked about the least is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is kind of just a power pack haunch towards inflammation. It’s kind of one of the best phytochemicals that’s out there. Getting them all is great, so. As far as a corn product, I tried to steer away from corn products just because there are so much GMO corn that’s filled with pesticides out there and mold and everything that I try to stay away from anything that’s corn-related unless it’s non-GMO and it can be proven.
Dr. Weitz: Yes, and I do as well.
Dr. Zigler: Yes good. Then astaxanthin is probably the best one, but lutein and zeaxanthin have their place as well. Like I said, if you eat kale and spinach, you’re going to be fine.
Dr. Weitz: I looked at that AREDS formula and the amount of zinc was very high. It was like 80 mg.
Dr. Zigler: I think they’ve since cut that to 40 mg and studies now show it doesn’t need to be that high. They can bring it down and I think they’re starting to bring that down now. I should know this off the top of my head, but I think ours is 40.
Dr. Weitz: Are exercises for the eye, are they beneficial? You see a lot of people claiming that you can reduce nearsightedness or farsightedness or astigmatism?
Dr. Zigler: That’s a great question and that’s called the Bates method. I’ve been reading more into it so I was very against it because I was Western medicine trained in school. It was always just give them glasses, give them contacts to correct their vision and hopefully we can prevent it from getting worst by using XYZ, but there’s no studies proving that we could lessen any of that. So the Bates method is just this kind of process of relaxing your eyes throughout the day in order to prevent your nearsightedness from getting worst. He did it and it worked for some of his patients. Can I say that it’s effective? I don’t know enough to really say yes or no. It is something that I am looking into because as we’ve shifted from Western medicine to Eastern medicine, it is something that has picked my interest because a lot of people ask about it. So we have been looking into it more and more, but I can’t say yes it works or no. If you’re like a minus 10, it’s not going to work for you. If you’re like a minus one or minus two, it may and so you can try it. So it doesn’t work for those severe cases.
Dr. Weitz: If you would compare it to say chiropractic or treating people with musculoskeletal conditions, the analogy is instead of giving somebody say a back brace to support their back, you give him exercises to strengthen their muscles to support their back, their core muscles, their back muscles or abdominal muscles. So it makes sense the eye is focused by muscles that potentially could be affected by the right exercises.
Dr. Zigler: Kind of digging into that a little bit more. There is something called vision therapy and that kind of relates to what you just talked about with chiropractic as well in vision therapies where we trained the muscles that are around the eye to help the eyes work together better and so that’s not going to help with nearsightedness or farsightedness. A lot of people don’t realize if there’s more division than seeing 20/20, the vision is how your eyes work together, how your eyes can follow an object, how your eyes can read and sometimes people have problems with that. Actually, about 30 to 40% of people have problems with that and they don’t even know it. They just get diagnosed with like a learning disability or having ADHD-
Dr. Weitz: Interesting.
Dr. Zigler: … but really it’s just their eyes aren’t working together that well. You put them through vision therapy, teach them these eye exercises and they usually come out the other side after about three or to four months doing pretty well, and that’s very similar to what you’re just talking about with chiropractic.
Dr. Weitz: Wow, very interesting. I never heard of that.
Dr. Zigler: It’s called vision therapy.
Dr. Weitz: Where would people find out about that?
Dr. Zigler: You could really just type in vision therapy in the Google and learn more some of the diseases that are not diseases but conditions that we treat vision therapy with or once called convergence insufficiency. Converging is bringing your eyes together, which we’re doing when we read. Insufficiency, meaning you just have trouble doing it. Then there’s things like convergence excess where they don’t come in or they come in too much and so you have kind of battle to bring them back to focus. We can kind of play with our eyes to balance them. These are my two eyeballs by the way my hands-
Dr. Weitz: I got it.
Dr. Zigler: … and so in tracking. So when you’re tracking an object, you can have problems with that too, so that’s called saccadic deficiency. So saccadic deficiency, convergence insufficiency, convergence excess, those are all problems that we see very commonly. Simply vision therapy it’s very simple. It’s just a 20-minute exercise a night for your eyes and it can make a big difference.
Dr. Weitz: What do you know about floaters in the eye?
Dr. Zigler: I know a lot about floaters in the eye.
Dr. Weitz: I had one. It just sort of came on. I tried to ignore it. After about six months, it just went away.
Dr. Zigler: You described a perfect kind of prognosis I guess or phase of a floater. So a floater is simply just … In the back of our eye, we have a jelly that filling the eye called vitreous. Inside that vitreous jelly, we can get clumps of collagen and clumps of protein that formed. Since it’s a jelly, these clumps just kind of hang out in that jelly. As the light comes into your eye, it hits those little clumps and then casts a shadow on your retina. Your retina is what captures light. So essentially you’re just seeing shadows of things floating around in your eye. What we hope happens is gravity takes it over, moves it down out of your vision, and then you no longer see it anymore. Now what you were probably seeing is occasionally what happens is as that jelly starts to condense on itself just over the years and it has a really strong attachment to the back of our eye. On the back of the eye when it pulls off that part it creates a very, very big floater. That’s probably what you noticed.
Then we hope gravity takes it over and just sinks it to the bottom or what can also happen is your brain gets used to it. Your brain is amazing. You actually have a blind spot in your vision and your brain completely ignores it. Otherwise it will drive you crazy all day. The fun part about doing that is just close your eye, take your kind of thumb out here and just move it 15 degrees off to the center and your thumb will disappear. That’s your blind spot of your eye that your brain just kind of ignores. No party trick.
Dr. Weitz: So what about glaucoma? What can we do about that? Because that’s a pretty dangerous condition and you can lose your eyesight.
Dr. Zigler: Yes. We don’t know much about glaucoma. We just know that we lower the pressure to treat it. Really we think it has very little-
Dr. Weitz: That’s how it is measured, right? Is it measured?
Dr. Zigler: Exactly, yes. So pressure is one thing that we look at. We then look at your peripheral vision because what glaucoma does is it takes away your peripheral vision, which is all your vision out here. It slowly comes in over your central vision. The most important part that we look at is the optic nerve of your eye. The optic nerve connects your eye to your brain. That’s how you see. That’s how you interpret what you’re seeing. So the eye is the camera film and then the cord attaches it to the computer. The optic nerve attach the eye to the brain. So when damage is occurring to the optic nerve, that is what glaucoma is. What we know is that usually it occurs in patients that have higher pressures. By bringing those pressures down, it helps prevent it from getting worst. The problem is I have patients that have pressures of 40. Normal is 22 and under. Those patients with 40 pressures never develop glaucoma, but then on the other side I have patients that have pressures of 10 who have glaucoma.
So just we don’t know much about it. What we’re starting to see, what studies are going into is that they think it’s a gradient of your pressure in your brain versus your pressure in your eye. If the pressure in your eye is higher than the pressure in your brain, it’s pushing therefore it’s causing glaucoma. If the pressure in your brain is higher, it’s pushing back this way and that will cause other problems like optic neuritis and papilledema, which is just a swelling of the nerve that can cause a whole slew of problems anyway. If those are in perfect balance, you’re not going to have any of those problems.
So the second one I talked about is papilledema, a swelling of that nerve, usually occurs in overweight women. We don’t know why their brain pressure tends to increase a little more. You can also get pressure increases in the brain from like a tumor or something like that too, so we always have to rule that about first. We think glaucoma is this gradient difference between the two. Like we said before, we treat it by lowering the pressure but we know there’s more to it than that and so there’s a lot of studies going into glaucoma. Again, going back to what we talked about with every disease, I don’t see glaucoma in my healthy patients. It’s always in my unhealthy patients that have diabetes, that smoke, that have high blood pressure. They just have the slew of inflammation in glaucoma just comes kind of naturally and that progression with them.
Dr. Weitz: So let’s say I get a patient who comes in with glaucoma. He wants to do whatever it is natural besides, let’s say he is already on a healthy diet. He was on one before, I put him on one. Are there any specialty, are there any particular foods or supplements or strategies that can help naturally to reverse glaucoma?
Dr. Zigler: Yes, there’s always a lot of studies that go into. Unfortunately, all the studies haven’t been great. The best thing is anti-inflammation. So going back to the lutein and zeaxanthin and kale and spinach and just basing your diet around plant-based organic vegetables is key. Especially leafy greens, it’s going to help just reduce that inflammation, scrub out that eye. That’s what lutein and zeaxanthin do. They just scrub out all the free radicals that cause damage in the eye. Then some studies have shown that sleep apnea plays a big role in it and that’s because most sleep apnea patients, lack of oxygen and so they feel like if they’re having those periods of two to five minutes where they’re not breathing, that’s starving the eye of oxygen too, causing glaucoma to get worst. I’ve read that study or that when you sleep, sleeping on an incline will actually help with the pressure inside your eye because our pressure tends to fluctuate throughout the day.
The main glaucoma drop that we use we actually take at night to decrease the pressure in the morning because your pressure is usually highest in the morning, avoiding inversion. So if you have a patient that’s a glaucoma patient, they do a lot of yoga, you have to kind of tell them to avoid that kind of inverted position because that is yoga. I mean, you’re inverted a lot so avoiding being upside down is big. Yes, just healthy diet in general is one of the best things. There are optic nerve support formulas. I can’t think off the top of my head… I think it’s called pycnogenol is the herb. Don’t quote me on that one, but I’m pretty sure it’s pycnogenol. That’s been shown to help a little bit, but again no conclusive studies. There is optic nerve support formulas out there.
Dr. Weitz: What about the natural anti-inflammatory formulas or products like curcumin, et cetera?
Dr. Zigler: I will always recommend those because, I mean, again all these are inflammation so just getting that diet right and then any anti-inflammatory products will help with that.
Dr. Weitz: So what about cataracts?
Dr. Zigler: Cataracts, yes, great question. Not a great question just statement but great statement. It does tend to be an age-related condition. So we-
Dr. Weitz: A lot of these tend to be age-related conditions.
Dr. Zigler: That’s true. That’s true. Cataracts to protect against it, we see higher cataract rates with lower vitamin C and so a vitamin C deficiency can cause cataracts; high UV exposure. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio practicing, I didn’t see cataracts until usually around the age of 60 to 70 because there’s not as much sun up there, not as much blue collar work. Then when I moved to South Carolina, it’s sunny every day here and it’s a lot of blue collar welding work. Welding causes a lot of UV light. The sun is out every day. A lot of people are out to their jobs. So I started seeing cataracts down here around 40 to 50. I send a lot more people out for cataract surgery down here than I ever did in Ohio and that’s just because of the UV exposure that they get.
Now when I go on my mission works down to Jamaica and Ecuador, there’s a ton more down there. Ecuador is right on the equator so you could imagine the amount of cataracts we see at a younger age there and some other problems too. Then Jamaica is the same thing. It’s a tropical island. People don’t wear their sunglasses, lots of UV exposure. UV light is just like blue light. UV light is healthy. It’s just not in high amounts and so you have to take it in moderation. Ten to 20 minutes a day is usually all you need. You can stay out longer, of course, but just don’t overdo it and you can avoid cataracts.
Dr. Weitz: What about the importance of getting an eye exam every year?
Dr. Zigler: I love that question. I love that question. So a lot of people think-
Dr. Weitz: What should eye exam include? Because some are really quick. They just tell you to look at a chart.
Dr. Zigler: Which are my at least favorite eye exam. So a lot of people think an eye exam is just a vision test. So a lot of people will tell me they got their eye test at the DMV or they got their eye exam at school. Those are vision screening so all they’re doing is checking your vision. There’s more to vision than 20/20 vision and that is just a very insignificant part of the exam. Yes, it’s great because it gets people to see. The reason we have you in every year and once you in every year is because we dilate your pupil. The pupil is black because it is a hole. It’s an opening to your eye. So when we make that hole bigger, we can see in the back of your eye and that’s where problems can occur that you won’t notice until they’re too late.
So high blood pressure, diabetes can both cause blindness. If you get to the point where they have caused blindness in you, it is too late for you. If we catch it before it gets to that point because we can through a dilated eye exam, then we can fix the problem before it gets any worst. Same thing with glaucoma. Glaucoma is that peripheral vision. It takes it from out here and closes in. By the time you notice it, it’s already too late. Glaucoma is irreversible. Glaucoma is actually irreversible. There hasn’t been any proven studies that have shown vision coming back. Then same thing with macular degeneration. We can catch that before vision gets worst before it’s too late. We have seen reversible macular degeneration but it’s a lot harder than catching it early and fixing it. It’s very similar to think of a stage one cancer versus a stage four cancer. It’s a lot easier to treat a stage one than a stage four. So if we catch that at stage one point, we’re going to be able to do things to fix it. That’s the importance of a dilated eye exam is because we can check everything in the back of your eye and to make sure your eyes are healthy.
Dr. Weitz: I know your company makes specific products to help with various eye disorders. What are some of the products that we could consider using and what conditions with the health?
Dr. Zigler: I love that question too. So thanks for letting me say that too. So if your listeners go to dryeyecommunity.com, that’s where we kind of start. We give them a free e-book there. They get on our email sequence of teaching you how to deal with inflammation and dryness naturally. It does talk about our products in there. We have a product called Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser. That’s the hypochlorous acid solution that you actually spray on your eyelids it cleans up those eyelids naturally by helping your normal immune response to the bacteria in your eyelids. We very had an enormous amount of success with that product. We released that last June and it’s been a game changer for us and our patients. We are beyond excited to get that to more and more people. We then have an omega-3 for dry eyes specifically formulated for that like we talked about molecularly. It’s very purified and it comes from a sustainable source and good manufacturing practice facility. Then we have a warm compress specifically made for warm compresses of the eye.
Then we have a soap bar that actually has Tea Tree Oil in it. We didn’t go into this, but you can actually have eyelash mites that live in your eyelashes. It’s very prevalent. They usually don’t cause problems but they can. So Tea Tree Oil actually kills-
Dr. Weitz: These are separate from dust mites that people have in their mattress?
Dr. Zigler: Yes, totally separate, but Tea Tree Oil can help treat both of them. They kill all these mites and this washing with the Tea Tree Oil soap will help with that. So we developed one and it’s five ingredients, very organic. Then we also have an ocular health formula that follows the AREDS2 formulation.
Dr. Weitz: How could you clean your eyelids without getting it in your eyes?
Dr. Zigler: It is 100% safe for your eyes. We have had approved for that so that’s why we say spray it on your eyelids. We have had it proven for safety. So it’s safe to ingest, inhale, on your skin and on your eye. We had it safety tested it for all that.
Dr. Weitz: We’re talking about the spray or are you talking about the Tea Tree Oil soap?
Dr. Zigler: The spray, yes, the spray. I wouldn’t recommend getting the soap in your eye.
Dr. Weitz: Yes I know. Does it sound like much fun. Okay great. Is there any other things that you wanted to cover? I think we did a pretty good job.
Dr. Zigler: No, that was great. I think just having your listeners check out dryeyecommunity.com. Our website is eyelovethesun.com and they can view all our products there too and follow our blog and everything.
Dr. Weitz: That’s great. Thank you so much Travis. You brought us some great information about improving your eye health.
Dr. Zigler: All right, thanks for having me on.
Dr. Weitz: Okay, thank you. Talk to you soon.
Thanks this was really helpful!