Author: Jovi Boparai, MD
Dry eye disease is tough! I get it. I have struggled with dry eyes for several years from contact lens use, and from spending countless hours looking at computer screens. In college, my dry eyes got so bad that I couldn’t wear contact lenses, because of a constant “foreign body sensation” when I had them in. I had to stop reading every 30 minutes because my eyes would start to burn and my vision would get blurry. I tried a plethora of treatments and nothing seemed to work. Dry eye disease was not only impacting my eyes, but also my emotional wellbeing. It was preventing me from enjoying life, and getting in the way of my professional training. I felt overwhelmed, frustrated and hopeless. It was only when I realized that my dry eyes were linked to my lifestyle, environment and overall health did things start to make sense. I noticed that on days when I spent less time on the computer, my eyes felt better. My symptoms would flare when it was windy, or when there was low humidity. I knew that if I wanted to get ahead of my dry eyes, I needed to not only treat my eyes, but to also address my lifestyle. I started a consistent regimen of artificial tears and eyelid hygiene. I switched from monthly contact lenses to daily contact lenses. I started taking scheduled breaks from looking at a computer. I ate a healthier diet focused on anti-inflammatory/antioxidants foods, and I bought a humidifier for my room. In the beginning doing all this seemed impossible, but over time it became part of my usual routine. Not only did my eyes feel better, but I was overall healthier and happier! Turns out what is good for my eyes, was also good for my mind and body. I carried this lesson with me as I started my career to become an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic surgeon. Because of my personal journey and professional training, I believe dry eye treatment starts by listening to and empowering the patient. I listen for the struggles and cue in on their strengths, while picking up on their lifestyle. Only then do we together start building a treatment plan that incorporates good eye hygiene with small, but impactful lifestyle changes. Our sight is our most important sense, and it is intimately linked to our very being. I want dry eye patients to not only get their dry eyes under control, but to also enjoy good mental and physical health, and live a fulfilling life. What is good for the eyes should also strengthen the mind and fortify the body! Get to know me a little better! Hobby: vintage watches Food: peanut butter Superhero: Superman Guilty pleasure: desserts Secret power: has never had a headache Training: Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh Honors College Medical school: Weill Cornell Medicine Ophthalmology residency: Wills Eye Hospital.