Dry Eye - Dr. Zigler discusses signs, symptoms, treatment

The Power of Food in Healing Dry Eyes

The Power of Food in Healing Dry Eyes 1

Exercise Educational handout

Introduction to the Power of Food

Before we dive into this journey on food, I want to talk to all of you about the struggle of dry eye disease and disease in general. Regardless of where you are in this dry eye adventure, know that from this moment forward, you have a choice - you can choose whether you want to feel amazing or just get by.  Take this opportunity to set the bar for how you want to live the rest of your life...feeling great or feeling lousy.  The choice is YOURS.  

“Nature knows when you are in harmony with yourself and your environment… We frantically go to a doctor to see if they can fix [my problems].  They can’t; only YOU can.” --Dr. Randine Lewis, PhD

The Word Diet

I use the term diet in this book a lot.  I do not believe in dieting and the word diet is used to describe what we will be eating.  You are not going on a diet.  You are starting a new diet of healthy foods that will completely transform your life and if you stick to this diet, you can eat as much as you want inside of it.  Again, you are not going on a diet, but rather changing what you eat.

What is Disease?

The most commonly cited causes of disease are lack of oxygen, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc…).  There are numerous culprits that can lead to any of these four causes and they can include: animal fats, dairy, sugar, and toxic chemicals.  These foods can increase estrogen levels, flood the body with toxic chemicals, and carry life threatening bacteria.   We will explore each section in much more detail later.  

What you put in your mouth is one of the biggest factors affecting how your body works and feels.  The cleaner, more oxygen-pumping, anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, and nutrient filled food you put in your body, the better your body can do what you ask of it.  

Katherine Thurer, MD says

“Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board.  Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend.”

So Where Are The Studies?

There is not much scientific evidence on diet and disease, because there is not a lot of money in it.  Pharmaceutical companies have billions of dollars to sponsor international studies about their medications to get them approved for a disease symptom.  Farmers that grow organic crops don’t have this same financial luxury.

The unfortunate realization is that Western medicine (which is only one way of treatment) is this:

  1. Patient has problem that needs to be addressed, so they head to their doctor.
  2. Doctor has sales representatives from various companies come in all day, everyday explaining to them why their drug is better.
  3. Doctor then uses the newest medication to treat the SYMPTOM of the patient’s problem.
  4. If that treatment doesn’t take, the doctor switches to another medication that another company claims will work.  
  5. Then, if that treatment doesn’t work, doctors have to resort to surgery to fix the problem.

We were taught this method of medicine. We believed in this method of medicine. Until we questioned it...

Our Shifting Belief from Western Medicine to Eastern Medicine

It was early 2015, and we had just moved to South Carolina, from Ohio, to start our two new optometry practices!  I promised my wife that after we moved, we could start trying for children.  So we did…

Five months into trying to have children, we realized that it was not as easy as all our friends said it was.  We started exploring what could be causing this problem.  I was tested to make sure I was fertile, but that wasn’t the problem.  Jenna was tested and found that she had polycystic ovaries.

Numerous lab tests were run, but aside from polycystic ovaries shown on ultrasound, hormone levels and nutrient levels were all normal. Because it appeared Jenna was “healthy”, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility complicated by polycystic ovaries… the most frustrating of all diagnoses in those trying to get pregnant! We began with a few monthly rounds of Clomid and metformin, which all failed to achieve the desired result. We were then prescribed Letrozole, in hopes that it would work in a different way. It didn’t.  Through these pharmaceutical interventions come a lot of undesired side effects including sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings, rage, thirst, and more.  

Finally in July of 2016, we were told by our fertility doctor that we would have to do IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), which costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 with a 33% chance of success.  Not to mention the massive amount of expensive pharmaceuticals and chemicals that Jenna would have to put in her body in order to possibly conceive.  This is not including the emotional toll of IVF on both the woman trying to conceive and the husband as well.  With that being said, there is a place for IVF, we just didn’t think it was for us.  

The night before our first IVF appointment while lying in bed, I turned to Jenna and told her that I didn’t believe that IVF was right for us. I expressed that there had to be a better way, and she agreed.  This led us on a journey to explore additional routes of medicine including Eastern medicine, which is about finding out what is causing this distress in your body and healing it from the inside out.  

We were already eating a plant-based diet, with minimal meat consumption of about one time per month.  We then switched to eating only organic food.

At the recommendation of a few friends, Jenna started receiving weekly acupuncture treatments. Her acupuncturist started her on a healthy, high fat diet (more on this later) and reduced the amount of carbs and sugar she was consuming.  Four more months passed and still no results, although her progress with acupuncture looked promising.   

In February, our acupuncturist told us that her temperature chart that month looked perfect, and that we may conceive the next weekend.  In the meantime, losing hope after two and a half years of trying, we scheduled an adoption meeting to begin the process.  

The day before the adoption meeting, we took a pregnancy test… It was positive.  

And here I am writing this section of our book one month before Baby Z  is born (I convinced Jenna to not find out the sex).  

This shifted my belief in how I practiced medicine as an eye doctor.  I started thinking that maybe every time I prescribe a medication I am just covering up a symptom to a much larger problem going on with the body.  I started exploring different methods of healing disease from the inside out.  Which leads me to present day and writing this book for you.   

Please know that the methods I discuss in this book are NOT just for dry eye, but for healing the entire body of ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis, infertility, and any other symptoms you have.  


Embracing Foods That Heal

Food can be the ultimate source of healing or the ultimate destruction of your body. Once you clear away the junk that’s clogging your body from years of poor diet (by the way, it’s not your fault... it’s the government, big pharma, and factory farms), you will unclog your mind as well.  You’ll be able to tap into your healthiest and happiest you.  

All of this starts with plants!

A healthy, plant-based diet is the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts.

Plants help balance our hormones, maintain a stable blood sugar and pressure, and generally fuel all of our systems in a cleaner, more efficient way.  Plant-based foods are nature’s way of giving us sun-powered health at its most delicious.  There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods - including protein and iron - that aren’t better provided by plants.  They can supercharge your body, reduce diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and help you live the life you’ve always dreamed of.  

Research done by Drs. T Colin Campbell, Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr., and John McDougall have shown that changing diet to include more plant based foods and less animal-based foods can help you live longer, feel younger, lose weight, have more energy, preserve your eyesight, keep your mind sharp, and have a more vibrant sex life.  They also discuss that it can eliminate your need for pharmaceutical drugs, especially for treating things like depression, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.  


Fiber is at the top of the list of health benefits of plants.  Fiber helps “scrub” our intestines clean of all the junk that inhabits them on a daily basis.  Since we don’t digest fiber, it helps move things along from entrance to exit, but also absorbs chemicals and toxins along the way out.  A lack of fiber can cause constipation, bloating, hemorrhoids, gas, and diseases like intestinal or colon cancer.

The more fiber you eat the lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and rectal and colon cancer.  


Phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, act like shields that soak up invaders and keep them from harming the plants’ tissues.  Our bodies cannot fight against these free radicals, industrial pollutants, or toxins hiding in animal foods.  These cause our bodies and tissues to start breaking down, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, cataracts, hardening of the arteries, cancer, emphysema, and arthritis.  If we eat plants, they lend us their powers to fight these toxins.  Each plant has its own fighting ability, which is why a variety of plants is key to your diet.  

A side bonus of phytochemicals is that they help with wrinkles by protecting your skin from damage and helping your skin produce more collagen.  Whole grains are packed with B-complex vitamins which help with glowing skin.

Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. A few types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health.  They benefit our eyes by guarding against vision loss, while improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail.  Additionally they also play a role in protecting our eyes against damaging effects of UV light we encounter outdoors as well as blue light from our computers, phones, tablets, and TVs.  

One Love,

Dr. Travis Zigler, Heyedrate, Dry Eye Treatment, Exercise

Dr. Travis Zigler

Can Acupuncture and a Detox Help Dry Eyes?

Can Acupuncture and a Detox Help Dry Eyes? 0

Acupuncture and Detoxification

What are your thoughts on liver detoxification and acupuncture helping with dry eye?

Liver detoxification means that you have a toxic liver to begin with. Figuring out what caused your toxic liver in the first place and then not doing that would be the key to liver detoxing and then you never have to liver detox. All those detox plans that you always see are helpful because people don't eat healthy. Detox plans and diets I believe you shouldn’t have to diet and you shouldn’t need to detox because you should eat that way to begin with. If you eat that healthy to begin with you never have to worry about going on any of those plans.

As far acupuncture goes, I am a huge proponent of acupuncture for all different things. Acupuncture is one of the things that helped us get pregnant. It's been shown to help with so many different things. The main thing with acupuncture that it can be great for is anxiety, depression, stress. That is one of the main reasons that I go to acupuncture, is to relieve stress. Stress is a well known cause of dry eye. The more stress you have in your life, your immune system is going to be off and it can cause your eyes to be more dry. I believe that acupuncture can absolutely help. It is not a cure all, of course, but it is definitely something to add to your regimen.

We just listened to a good podcast today. We listened to a health related podcast. It was talking about how we are constantly in this fear of everything in life. You are always scared of something. You are worried about this, and that. When your body is in this constant fight or flight mode, you are constantly releasing stress of cortisol and that is one of the reasons we could not get pregnant. Jenna was a little too stressed out and cortisol levels caused her just to fluctuate too much and what acupuncture did is even her out.

I know it sounds like that has nothing to do with dry eyes, but it actually has everything to do with it. Hormones have a ton to do with dry eyes. When your hormones are out of whack, dry eyes are more likely. Just like when your hormones are out of whack, infertility is more likely. So, acupuncture is just great at leveling out all those energies in your body. I absolutely believe in it.

One Love,

Dr. Travis and Dr. Jenna

Dr. Travis Zigler and Dr. Jenna Zigler

Join Dr. Travis Zigler and Dr. Jenna Zigler LIVE on Facebook every Sunday at 5:00 pm EST in the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community on Facebook

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

How Do You Know If You Have Mites Living In Your Eyelashes?

How Do You Know If You Have Mites Living In Your Eyelashes? 0

Eyelash Mites...

If we have mites in our lashes, will the doctor tell us during an eye exam? I have what I would call clogged pores on my upper lashes, or the root of the lashes.

You would not be able to see mites because they are so tiny. They are electron microscopic. Even on a regular microscope you can’t really see them. We can see signs of them. What we see are what we call little colorets. It’s the eggs burrowing in. The mites live in the follicle and we can sometimes pluck an eyelash and put it under a microscope that is even more magnified than the one that we have in the exam room and you can see them there. Or you can just see their eggs. That is what we usually see is a typical kind of a cylindrical waxy looking, eggy, nest looking in your eyelashes and that is when we know to treat it.  

If somebody has an eyelash issue we are just going to treat it anyway and we use our soap for that. The Heyedrate Tea Tree Soap has 3.9% tea tree oil in it. When you are rubbing it on your eyelid it is going to help and it makes an unpleasant environment for those Demodex mites. They will be gone in 2 seconds and tea tree oil also kills the Demodex mites. Then on top of that, we use Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser to keep the eyelids clean. What the Demodex eat are your oils, your skin, your excess skin, and bacteria. If you keep that area clean you are less likely to have that problem. 

Basically, your doctor probably is not able to see them with the original equipment that we normally use in an everyday eye exam. Unless, they were actually plucking your eyelashes and putting those under a digital microscope. There is really no way to see them because these mites are so tiny. It is likely that they did not see the direct mites but they could see what we were talking about earlier. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is, you need a doctor who stays up to speed of what’s going on and quite honestly most doctors don't. It is kind of sad. I would say 50% of people out there that are doctoring are just not staying up to date. They are just doing it, to do it. It’s scary. Things I look for when I pick a doctor is making sure their website is updated. I make sure there are good Google reviews. If I walk into their office and the carpets run down, or the front desk staff is rude, I would walk right out because you can tell they don't care. If they are not paying attention to their office environment and how it looks then how are they going to pay attention to you. That is just my opinion. Take it as you will.  

One Love,

Dr. Travis

Dr. Travis Zigler and Dr. Jenna Zigler  

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

What are the Effects of Retin-A in Eyes?

What are the Effects of Retin-A in Eyes? 0

Retin-A Safety

Can Retin-A applied to the skin, not the eyes, cause any trouble?

Obviously we know that Accutane and systemic vitamin A can cause dry eye issues. Topically it’s kind of an interesting topic because there are a couple theories. First of all, the way I think about it is yes, it is a topical medication that you are just putting on your skin but it is also a medication we are told not to take when we are pregnant. It can really have some adverse side effects even topically. There is some systemic absorption there. Now, it is nowhere near what Accutane is, but it is possible that it can cause issues in that way. Another thing that I think about is, if you put Retin-A or something similar on your skin at night before you go to bed and then you go to sleep, it gets on your pillow, possibly you rub your face, you rub your eyes, and it can get into your eyelids and in your eyes. I would say, although the side effects are nowhere near what Accutane would be, topical Retin-A may still cause you some issues. You probably want to use it sparingly if you think that is the issue.

One Love,

Dr. Travis and Dr. Jenna

Dr. Travis Zigler and Dr. Jenna Zigler




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