Is Stress Causing Your Dry Eye? 7 Tips To Reduce It!

Is Stress Causing Your Dry Eye? 7 Tips To Reduce It! 0

The Dry Eye Show -  June 17, 2018

Dr. Travis Zigler here, and Dr. Jenna Zigler, and thank you for joining us for The Dry Eye Show.

We have a couple announcements... You're going to see our link for our six-month supply of our Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser giveaway. You can also go to our blog, click our blog, and then it will pop up for you there. You can win a six-month supply and it's almost a $99 value... that's a GREAT deal! We’re pretty excited about giving that away, so make sure you enter. The draw is going to be next Monday and the contest is over next Sunday.

Click Here to Enter the Contest

We're going to jump right into our seven relaxation techniques to help with stress and anxiety relief which will help your dry eye.

So, before we jump into those seven tips we're going to talk about what stress is, what it causes, and what it does to your body. Stress is actually very good but it can also be very bad. It's very good in the sense that it helps us with our fight-or-flight response. When fight-or-flight response happens it's usually because we're in a situation that requires an emergency so our eyes will become dilated so we can see better and we'll have more adrenaline pumping through our body so we can perform better. Our palms will be sweaty, our heart rate will speed up, our muscles will tense, and our breath will shorten and that gets us ready to either run or fight.

Your nervous system controls this cortisol and releases a certain amount of it. It also helps with blood sugar metabolism, inflammation, memory and blood pressure. So, if we release too much of this cortisol over a long period of time it's going to cause chronic stress. What this is going to do is lead to more serious health problems.

What causes stress?

A lot of the time when we think about stress we think about bad stress but there's actually good stress, too. An example of good stress is to think about getting married, having a baby, and moving to a new city. Those are all stressful events, but they're good stress. And then of course there's the bad stress. So examples would be disability, death, divorce, and unemployment. You know money can causes a lot of stress, depression, natural disasters and traumatic events.

But, the most important thing is your attitude and how you view the stress. It’s how you react to a particular situation. Do you have unrealistic expectations of that situation? That's kind of what we're going to focus a little bit on.

Some stress symptoms and some short-term effects of stress on the body are dry eyes, headaches, dilated pupils, stiff neck and back pain, increased heart rate, sweaty palms and feet, upset stomach and depression. The goal of this is to get out of that depression and anxiety state by using these seven tips. The long-term effects are dry eyes, infertility, heart disease, suppressed immune system, hormone fluctuations, asthma, acne, eczema, psoriasis and of course anxiety and depression.

How do we relieve stress?

Tip number one: Get grounded. If you've ever heard about grounding this is a practice of getting back in touch with the naturally negative charged free electrons that are on the earth.

Research has shown that if you place your bare feet on the ground -in the grass at the beach, or in the ocean and not on concrete. No shoes, not on concrete, not on rubber or wood or anything like that.

Electrons from the earth actually can migrate into your body and spread throughout your tissues. This can be incredibly helpful for inflammation and fighting inflammation in your body. When you're grounding electrons from the earth basically travel to the area of inflammation and they can actually help to neutralize that inflammation and render it harmless.

So, it's a really great practice and something that we try to do at least every day.

Tip number two: Getting ten minutes of sunshine before 10 a.m. What you want to do is just sit out in the sun before 10:00 a.m. and just close your eyes and then this will lead to tip number 3, but we'll get to that in a little bit.

Continuing with this tip is to get that sun on your skin because it is going to help increase your vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a a large role in a ton of chronic diseases like dry eye, asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

Your skin's going to absorb the sunlight and help convert it into vitamin D which is going to make you feel better. It will also increase your serotonin production which is going to make you feel better and that's going to help you sleep at night because serotonin is going to turn into melatonin at nighttime before you go to bed.

Tip number three: Meditation. Technically meditation means to engage in mental exercise with the purpose of a heightened spiritual awareness. That sounds a little frou-frou, but for people that meditate they know what we're talking about.

You can meditate in a short as 10 seconds a day. A lot of the time meditation is just paying attention to your breathing, maybe saying a mantra or something like that. It's just breathing and paying attention to where that breath is going throughout your body. It can really help you relax and really help you decrease stress.

There's a simple meditation in the blog post that I posted. You can click on that and that will take you over to the meditation I created and it's literally ten seconds long and you can do it any time of day that you want.

Tip number four: Yin yoga. We typically think about flow yoga which is where you're doing constant motion to stretch and do muscle training but the yin yoga is holding a pose for anywhere from 30 seconds up to 10 minutes.

Holding that pose kind of ties back into meditation because you have to meditate to hold that pose. Trust me, your patience will be tested and you're going to have things running through your mind. It's a form of meditation but it also helps stress because it increases your flexibility and it increases your circulations in your joints.

In that blog post we have lots of different yin yoga examples and on YouTube anywhere from 15 minutes to 75 minutes. We do this every night at around 9 p.m. before we go to bed because it puts us right to sleep and it increases our flexibility.

Tip number five: My favorite one, a gratitude journal. Basically a gratitude journal is just keeping a journal. This is how I recommend doing it. Keep a paper journal next to your bed every night or every morning (whatever works better for you) and you're going to simply write down three or more things every single day that you're grateful for.

These can be big things like a roof over your head, or the fact that it rained today. They can also be small things like the coffee you had this morning or anything like that.

You can write down anything you want but I guarantee you that when you write down what you're grateful for you won't pay as much attention to the things that are causing you stress in your life!

Tip number six: A mind dump and journaling. It’s very similar to gratitude journaling but a little different. You don't have to do this every day. However, gratitude journaling is great to do every day because it starts to give you focus.

You will start to focus on the positivity of life instead of the negativity. Stop watching the news all the time because that's extremely negative. Mind dump journaling is just pretty much whenever you feel that "state of overwhelmed" because you have too much to do.

Whenever you feel like you have too much to do sit down and play a nice relaxing song. Go to YouTube and just put in "relaxing song 20 minutes", then hit play and just write down everything that comes to your mind for work, for personal, for social, for friends, for kids, for whatever you need to do.

What that's going to do is it's going to just get everything out of your mind. You're just dumping your mind onto the journal. Then after you do that you want circle the top 10 by taking a different colored pen and circle the top 10 that are the most important that needs to get done and that are going to move your life forward the most.

After you have those top 10 circles, pick 3 and write down the 3 on a separate sheet of paper. 1, 2, & 3.  One being the most important, two being the second most important and three being the third most important. Focus on number one and don't worry about anything else until you get number one done.

Once you get number one done you then focus on number two. Once you get number two done you then focus on number three. So that is mind dump journaling in a nutshell.  Go to the blog post and you'll see an example of my mind dump journal from this past week and then my top 3 and how I narrow it down.

Tip number 7: Getting rid of your victim mentality. I always have the cause is greater than the effect and you want to be on the cause side more than the effect side. Tony Robbins always says that “what if life is happening for us and not to us”. What this means is to stop thinking that everything that happens in this life is happening to us like oh I lost my job because so-and-so, or I don't have any money because it's so and so, and this guy cut me off, and blah blah. That is taking a victim mentality and that's never going to get you anywhere. Instead, think of why did this guy cut me off, what does this mean for me and figuring out a way around that instead of taking the approach that this guy is an asshole and you just cut me off. So, stop taking the victim mentality and start taking control of your life.

Once you take control of your life and you're not on the "affect side" of everything happening to you, you're free. It took me awhile to be on the other side and to get to this I stopped watching the news because that's all victim things. I stopped getting around negative people and I don't talk to some people anymore just because they have that victim mentality. I try to get myself out of those situations as much as I can. I moved out of a city because I felt like there's just too much victim mentality in that city and I'm getting myself to a city that doesn't have that mentality. So, this meditation helps with this. Let's stop being a victim and start taking control of your life and on your time and what you're doing with it.

That's the top seven tips! I'm going to just briefly go over them again. So, tip number one is get grounded by going outside and walking outside in the grass for about five to ten seconds a day. Tip number two is get ten minutes of sunshine before 10 a.m. Tip number three is meditation. Tip number four is the yin yoga. Tip number five is gratitude journaling. Tip number six is mind dump journaling. And tip number seven is getting rid of your victim mentality and take control.

Life bonus tip number one:

Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff.

Life bonus tip number two:

Eliminate bad fats and increase good fats.

So, we talked a lot about your diet and you know we talked about how you need to eliminate all of those bad saturated fats in your diet. All those Western foods, those fried foods, baked goods like candies cakes and pies ice cream, all of that is bad fat and it's not going to help out with your stress levels or your anxiety.

Instead, you want to focus on whole foods that are high in healthy omega-6 and omega-3s. So, of course you can take a fish oil like our Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health but you can also eat wild salmon, mackerel, some vegetarian sources, walnuts, chia seeds and spinach. Those type of thing boom so that is everything in a nutshell and how to relieve stress and anxiety.


How do doctors know if we have aqueous deficiency?

Aqueous deficiency versus evaporative dry eye are two separate forms of dry eye. Aqueous deficiency occurs when your lacrimal gland is not making the amount of tears that it's supposed to. Things like Sjogren's syndrome and things that attack the lacrimal gland can cause aqueous deficiency. There are other things too, of course, but those are the main ones.

Then evaporative dry eye is due to mostly meibomian gland dysfunction or a decrease in the quality of oils that you're meibomian glands are producing. It's just a completely different type of dry eye. A lot of the time, an aqueous deficient dry eye person just doesn't make a lot of tears at all. Then with evaporative dry eye it's more of a quality thing versus a quantity thing.

If nighttime gels and/or night goggles make one feel worse, there's no reason to use them or are they doing some good even though we're feeling some bad?

I usually recommend nighttime goggles and gels only when somebody has a problem with keeping their eyes closed at nighttime. If you feel like they're actually making things worse then don't use them because that's obviously not the reason that you have your dry eye. Don't use them if you don't feel a need to.

Is it correct that punctual plugs are just a quick fix?

The inflammation is still there so getting to the source of that inflammation is going to be a hundred times better then plugging your plugs.

If you have all that inflammation and you do a plug then unfortunately what's going to happen is that you're just going to build up more inflammation in the system and that's going to make things even worse. So, definitely get the inflammation under control if you're considering punctal plugs.

Is fish oil good for dry eyes?

According to the dream study they said fish oil had no significant difference in dry eye compared to placebo. Unfortunately, the study used olive oil as placebo which is another healthy fat. So, what the study did show is that both the fish oil group and the olive oil group both helped with dry eye, they just had no difference between the two.

The healthy oils that are coming from whole foods such as fish, a fish oil supplement, avocado, walnuts and any other omega-3 sources or healthy omega-6 sources is going to be good for dry eye. What's bad for dry eye is anything that has saturated fats such as cakes, cookies ice cream, pastries, baked goods and all that stuff. So it means fish oil is good for dry eyes.

If you have Fuchs dystrophy and cataracts, which surgery should be done first?

This is a great question and truthfully it's a tough one. First of all Fuchs dystrophy happens on your cornea on the front of your eye. Where a cataract occurs is behind that cornea, in the center of your eye, in your lens. So, if you have that cataract surgery done and you still have decreased vision because of Fuchs you're still going to have some decreased vision because the cornea issue is still there.

It's hard to know depending on how bad your cataract is but then if you just have the cornea fixed you may still have a cataract there. I would tend to say you would have your cornea fixed first. It's just a more intense surgery though. It's a pretty specialized surgery that is something that you need to talk to both your corneal specialists and your general ophthalmologist who is doing your cataract surgery. Talk to them about which one's worse and which one's going to result in the best benefits. It's huge to talk to them.


How warm do compresses need to be to melt the oils in meibomian glands?

This is a great question. It's been a lot of talk in the dry eye syndrome support community. There's a study that came out that said warm compresses are just good for symptom relief and they don't provide any actual permanent relief. It's not something I agree with totally because you're heating up an oil in an oil gland and it's going to help no matter what.

But, to get the most benefits you have to keep it 141 degrees. That's pretty hot and it's very hard to keep any at home therapy at that temperature. Just make sure you use a good mask and you may have to reheat it in the middle of your session, which is very normal. The only thing that really keeps that heat for a long period of time, and does it 100% correctly, is a lipiflow.

Lipiflow is $1,000 to $2,000 dollars depending on where you're getting it done. It keeps the heat right where it needs to be and it does the pulsation right for how you need to do it according to research but that could change in the future.

Warm compresses are still a great at home therapy that works really well. A lot of people won't use them because the inflammation it causes, but I don't think that it causes more inflammation than it helps and it provides you relief. I mean if it's providing you symptom relief then there's no reason to stop doing them just because a study says that warm compresses don't get hot enough to express your meibomian glands. I don't think it's worth stopping the compresses just because of that.

Is Cymbalta bad for dry eyes?

It can be! Cymbalta is a medication that is on the list of medications that can cause dryness in your eyes. So, a lot of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and birth control medications can cause dry eye and anti-histamines is another one. Those will dry your eyes out.

So, if you're on something like that and you haven't thought about if that might be causing your dry eye, it's very possible that it could be.

My Restasis burns my eyes.

It does! According to the studies that Restatis has done it occurs in about 17% of people that take it. In my experience about 50% of people that take it experience this and the reason is because if you have dry eye you most likely have inflammation and if you have inflammation it doesn't matter what you put on your eyes, including our spray our Heyedrate Lid and Lash cleanser, it will kind of burn even your eyelids if you have inflammation. There's going to be open cuts that it's going to burn. Water is going to burn; anything is going to burn just because you have inflammation.

Think about when you get a cut on your skin and you put water on it, it burns! So anything is going to sting a bit if you have inflammation. Once that inflammation starts to go down the burning should kind of subside. For some people it doesn't because the inflammation never goes away.

That's the importance of getting rid of the inflammation and the source of the inflammation before just trying all these drops and everything else. So, if you want to learn more about that go to

One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler and Dr. Travis Zigler

Dr. Travis Zigler and Dr. Jenna Zigler answer your questions LIVE on Sundays at 7:00pm EST. 

Click here to get Dr. Jenna's E-book, The Dry Eye Book, for Free

7 Relaxation Techniques For Stress Management And Anxiety Relief

7 Relaxation Techniques For Stress Management And Anxiety Relief 0


Stress... What Is Stress? What Causes Stress?

Adrenaline is pumping through your body, eyes are dilated, palms are sweaty, heartbeat speeds up, muscles tense, breath is short… Sound familiar?  This is your body’s “fight or flight” response that occurs when you are in a stressful situation.  

Your nervous system releases hormones, like cortisol, that prepare you to fight whatever the offending agent is or to run.  This is your body’s short-term response to stress and it recovers quickly from this.  This is a survival mechanism in the body and does more good than harm. 

Cortisol, or the "stress hormone," is an absolute essential part of your normal health and function helping control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, assist with memory, and helps control blood pressure. 

However if this stress if present over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to more serious health problems. Aging more quickly, decreased immune system, and higher disease prevalence are just a few of the problems that can occur due to long term stress.

So, What Causes Stress?

Everything causes some kind of stress on the body.  It can be good stress and bad stress.  When we typically here the word stress, we think of bad stress, which can be caused by any of the following: 

  • Disability
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Getting Fired
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of job satisfaction
  • Money
  • Chronic disease
  • Injury
  • Depression, anxiety, anger, grief, low self-esteem or other emotional problems
  • Traumatic events like theft, rape, or violence against you
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods
  • But not all stressors are bad
    • Marriage
    • Moving
    • Taking care of family
      • How you view the world 
      • How you react to a particular situation 
      • Unrealistic expectations 
      • This is what I will focus on below 

    Stress Symptoms... Short Term and Long Term Effects of Cortisol on the Body

    Stress causes an increase in your cortisol levels.  Like discussed above, this can be vital for your health and safety.  But chronic stress on the body can cause serious long term health conditions on the body.  This occurs due to elevated cortisol levels present all the time.

    Stress’s effects on the blood and circulatory system are what is thought to cause dry eyes. Blood is thicker, blood pressure is increased, and blood supply to extremities (legs, skin, arms) is decreased, which also affects the eyes and brain.  This decrease in blood supply is thought to cause dry eyes.

    Short Term Effects of Stress on the Body - “Fight or Flight”

    • Dry eyes
    • Headache
    • Fatigue – feeling tired
    • Dilated pupils
    • Stiff neck and shoulder pain
    • Back pain
    • Increased heart rate
    • Sweaty palms and feet
    • Upset stomach
    • Depression

    Long Term Effects of Stress on the Body

    • Dry eyes
    • Infertility due to hormone fluctuations and changes
    • Heart disease
    • Suppressed immune systems
    • Muscle pains
    • Asthma
    • Acne
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
    • Anxiety
    • Depression

    How To Relieve Stress. Stress Management And Stress Relief, Relaxation Techniques

    Tip #1 Get Grounded 

    Grounding is the practice of getting back in touch with the naturally negative charged free electrons that the earth has.  Research has shown that if you place your bare feet on the ground (grass, beach, ocean... not concrete) after injury, electrons from the earth will migrate into your body and spread through your tissues.   

    During injury when our immune system responds, it releases many chemicals that create an inflammatory cascade. One chemical released is reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, which can leak into healthy tissue causing inflammation in non-injured tissue.  When grounding, electrons from the earth travel to this area and naturally bind to these free radicals, neutralizing them and making them harmless.

    This is a process that is CONSTANTLY going on in your body, so grounding daily is very beneficial.  You have probably heard people talk about the power of the beach and ocean? That is because we finally take our rubber-soled, electron-blocking shoes off and walk barefoot.  You can also sit outside with your barefeet in the grass.

    According to the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, grounding benefits can include better sleep and reduced pain (from decreased inflammation).


    Tip #2 Get 10 Minutes Of Sunshine Before 10:00 am

    Who doesn't like a good sunbath?  Getting as little as 10 minutes of sunlight in the morning can provide numerous health benefits for you later that day and for overall health and vitality.  

    A reduction in Vitamin D plays a large role in a ton of chronic diseases including dry eye, asthma, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.  Your skin will absorb the morning sunlight to be used later in the day for vitamin D production which helps reduce the risk of these diseases.

    Speaking of using later in the day, morning sunlight increases your seratonin production, which your body converts into melatonin later in the day.  Melatonin is increased when the sun goes down, and it starts to signal to your body to go to sleep. 

    Avoid phones, TV's and other electronic devices at night as this inhibits melatonin production therefore leading to worse sleep.  Wearing a par of blue light blocking glasses will also help with increasing your melatonin production.

    Sunlight helps increase endorphins in the body, which help to decrease stress and anxiety.  


    Tip #3: Meditation

    According to Merriam-Webster, meditation is to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.  Now before you think I am going all spiritual, or foo-foo, on you, please read this whole short section.  

    What if you could meditate in as short as 10 seconds per day?  

    What if this meditation could decrease stress levels, therefore decreasing your risks of disease, such as dry eyes, heart disease, neck pain, and more?

    Meditation does NOT have to be an ultra spiritual, out-of-body experience only reserved for Buddhists in the mountains of Nepal.  It can be, but it can also be highly beneficial for other reasons.

    How to Meditate to Decrease Disease Risk

    This simple meditation technique can be used ANYWHERE. Whenever you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, nervous, or just need to get refocused.   I use it several times a day when I am feeling flustered and need to get refocused or less stressed.  

    1. Close your eyes
    2. Take a slow deep breath in.  This deep breath in should take five seconds and you should count the five seconds in your head.
    3. Hold your breath for two seconds
    4. Then a long slow exhale for five seconds 

    Watch the video for a simple meditation guide 

    Tip #4 Yin Yoga

    According to Wikipedia, Yin yoga is a slow paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that held for longer periods of time, usually 45 seconds up to five minutes or more.

    Yin yoga increases circulation in the joints and improves flexibility.  

    Yin yoga can also be combined with meditation and it aims at cultivating awareness of silence and interconnecting with your purpose or higher being.  

    This also allows us to slow down the minds, stretch the muscles, and reduce our stress and anxiety, which will help you fall asleep at night.  We tend to start our yin yoga practice around 9:00 pm at night and then go to sleep afterwards.  

    Practice is usually 15 minutes to 60 minutes.  

    Here are a few of our favorite examples

    Tip #5 Gratitude Journaling 

    By far one of the best tips on this list and another favorite of mine.  Gratitude journal is as simple as writing down three or more things everyday in paper journal.  

    Keep a paper journal beside your bed with a pen.  Every night before you go to sleep, write anything that happened during that day that was positive and that you are grateful for. 

    Expressing gratitude on a nightly basis will help you look for positivity in people and the world around you because you are starting to train your brain to do so. 

    Also avoid negativity like the news, complainers, and drama.  

    Gratitudes can be large or small.  Here is an example journal entry:

    1. I am grateful for Jenna doing the laundry today and making lunch for me.  

    2. I am grateful that Jude is feeling better after a stomach ache from last night.

    3. I am grateful for the Espresso roast coffee that I had this morning.

    4. I am grateful for having the freedom to be able to watch the World Cup even though the US Soccer team did not make it :( 

    5. I am grateful for a beautiful sunny day.  

    Tip #6 Mind Dump Journaling

    Do you ever feel like you have WAY too much to do and you can't figure out what to do first, so you end up doing nothing at all?  This is a result of overwhelm.  There is an extremely easy way to deal with overwhelm, and it is what I like to call mind dump journaling.  

    This is where I like to put on a 20 minute meditation song or video (click here for one) and write down absolutely everything I have to do for work, health, personal life, for my wife and son, and anything else that comes to mind.  

    How To Relieve Stress Mind Dump Journaling

    After about 5 minutes, take a look at your list and circle the most important ones on your list. 

    How To Relieve Stress Mind Dump Journaling

    Ask yourself, what is most important right now.

    You should have less than 10 items circled on your list.  

    Label these items in order of importance, one being the most important and 10 being the least important.  

    How To Relieve Stress Mind Dump Journaling

    On a separate sheet of paper, write the top three things you have to do as labeled one, two, and three.

    How To Relieve Stress Mind Dump Journaling

    Focus on finishing number one, before ever thinking about doing number two.  Once finished with number one, move on to number two, without ever focusing on three.  

    Continue this process whenever you have a state of overwhelm.  

    Tip #7 Get Rid Of Your Victim Mentality... Cause >> Effect

    As Tony Robbins says, “What if life is happening FOR us and not TO us?”  What this means is that we need to stop thinking that everything that happens in our life is happening TO us.  Stop being the victim and reacting to all scenarios.  You get to choose how you react to that person cutting you off or your colleague making fun of you.  If you start thinking of life happening FOR us, you start to think, what can I learn from this situation to not let it happen again or to improve my life?

    Instead of being reactive, be proactive.  Choose to not react to the guy cutting you off or the baby crying or the traffic accident that caused you to be late to work (at least you’re not in the accident).  If something happens to you that is less than pleasant, close your eyes and take a deep breath. 

    Go over tip #3 again, meditation.  That is the exact technique I use multiple times per day to avoid these problems and stay on the CAUSE side of the equation.  This technique can save you from doing something that you will regret for the rest of your life.  

    Bonus Tip #1  Don't sweat the small stuff, and it is all small stuff

    Bonus Tip # 2 Eliminate Bad Fats, Increase Good Fats

    Eating fats in our diet has received a bad rep for several years, but not all fats are created equal.  If you increase the amount of good fats in your diet, this will significantly reduce your dry eyes, depression, and anxiety.

    How do you do that?

    Eliminate, or eat in moderation, bad saturated fats.  These are found in most foods in the Western diet.  This includes fried foods, baked good (cookies, cakes, pies), most desserts (ice cream), most fast foods, pastries, mayonnaise, and more.  

    Instead focus on whole foods that are high in omega-6 and omega-3 for your fat intake.  Some of the best sources of omega-3s include fish oil in salmon, sardines, halibut or you can take an omega-3 fish oil supplement, like our Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health. Vegetarian sources include flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach.

    One Love,

    Dr. Travis Zigler

    Dr. Travis Zigler
    SeeEO of Eye Love
    Director of the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community
    Click Here to learn how to cure dry eye naturally




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