America’s Sweetheart Spreads Eyelove

Jennifer Aniston has everything – looks, talent, fame, and fortune. The gorgeous actress was crowned the World’s Most Beautiful Woman by ‘People’ magazine for the third time in 2016. At age 48, she maintains her natural beauty and age-defying physique by eating an incredibly healthy diet and incorporating a daily workout routine. It’s no surprise that people follow her diet and exercise tips in hopes of matching her amazing figure.

However, Jennifer’s epitome of a health goddess was sadly lacking on one important health issue. During a ‘People’ magazine interview, she was asked if she was addicted to anything particular. Coincidentally during that question, she was instilling an eye drop for the third time that hour! She admitted that she was addicted to using eye drops all day to alleviate her painful, red, itchy eyes. She was using all different types of over-the-counter eye drops including Visine. When the eye drops lost their effect, she tried stronger eye drops and used them more frequently. She thought, “The bigger the burn, the better the eye drop.” After several years, her symptoms reached a point where it interrupted the things she loved. Reading scripts became impossible, her eyes would burn while attending a red carpet premiere, or her eyes were so uncomfortable that she would need to take breaks during photo shoots. She assumed she suffered from allergies and she thought eye drops would help, even if it meant excessively using them all day.

Could It Be Dry Eyes?

Shire, a pharmaceutical company, directed their marketing department to research a dry eye marketing campaign. While perusing magazine articles, they happened to stumble across Aniston’s interview about her addiction to artificial tears. Shire called Aniston and informed her that she may have dry eyes and advised her to see her eye doctor.

Aniston had no idea her symptoms could be diagnosed as a disease. After the exam, her eye doctor confirmed that she was suffering from chronic dry eye, one of the most common eye diseases in the world. Currently Aniston has now quit her addiction of overusing eye drops and now experiences wonderful relief. She now realizes that her eyes needed to be included in her healthy lifestyle goal.

Raising Awareness about Chronic Dry Eye

Aniston partnered with Shire to raise awareness about chronic dry eye and promote the Eyelove campaign. Eyelove means loving what you do and see because of your eyes. Eyelove is also about what you can do for your eyes by getting your eyes checked by your eye doctor and discussing symptoms that may be related to dry eyes. Dry eye symptoms vary and may include any of the following:

• Red eyes
• Itchy eyes
• Burning
• Stinging
• Dryness
• Grittiness
• Irritation
• Feeling like you have something in your eyes
• Blurry vision that comes and goes
• General discomfort
• Watery eyes (yes, eyes that water too much may be a symptom of dry eyes)

These symptoms may interfere with your daily activities such as reading, computer work, or driving at night. Chronic dry eye may be triggered by multiple factors including prolonged screen time, contact lenses, aging changes, medications, certain eye surgeries, or autoimmune diseases.

In healthy eyes, the tears are working properly to lubricate, nourish and protect the eyes. For people that have chronic dry eye, the tears are no longer working properly. This means the amount of tears you are making are no longer enough and/or the quality of your tears are no longer healthy. Because of triggers that were mentioned earlier, the eyes undergo stress that will over time lead to inflammation. Over-the-counter eye drops fail to target inflammation and will not treat chronic dry eye. To treat chronic dry eye, you need medical treatment that will target inflammation. There are 30 million adults that experience symptoms consistent with dry eyes but sadly there are only about 16 million adults that have been diagnosed.

Show Eyelove

Across the nation, there are millions of people that are suffering everyday from dry eye. Thanks to Aniston’s campaign to spread awareness, this issue is gaining more attention and people are talking about it now more than ever. More significantly, this campaign may motivate people to follow in Aniston’s footsteps and take action to seek medical attention. In her TV commercial, Aniston states, “There are too many beautiful things to see and do to let Chronic Dry Eye get in your way.” So show your eyes some ‘Eyelove’ and schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today.

~Margie Recalde, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association


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