A Holistic Approach to Stress Induced Dry Eyes with Dr. Elise Brisco
Dr. Elise Brisco is an integrative optometrist and clinical homeopath. The reason she did this is, despite everything she learned in optometry school, she realized there was more to medicine than prescriptions and glasses. She also invented and patented a phone case, called NearSight, that replaces reading glasses, which has been a fun entrepreneurial venture for her and something we’ll get into during this video.
The longer she was in practice, the more she saw patients with dry eyes. It is one of the most chronically uncomfortable conditions and, once she began looking for it in her patients, she began seeing it everywhere. Now that we’re on the computer more and more, she’s seeing dry eye disease in much younger patients as well.
However, many patients do not know they have dry eyes. Many people have no idea what this means, although patients may say that their eyes feel tired and irritated at the end of the day. Dr. Brisco’s mission is to help as many people as possible, and she truly believes in the healing power of the body. Your body has the ability to heal itself if you let it.
Dr. Brisco knows what it means to suffer from a chronic condition and come back better than ever. She suffers from an autoimmune disease and, after being on incredibly strong medications and going through extensive blood work every few weeks, she knew she had to do something different. She then dove into homeopathic medicine, found health in her life, and began using this knowledge in her own optometric practice.
In this article and video, we’re going to discuss how stress can play a big role in dry eye. Make sure to watch the entire video and enjoy getting to know Dr. Brisco!
What is Stress?
Stress is anything that triggers the release of cortisol. This leads to inflammation in the body and can be caused by many things, including an unhealthy lifestyle in general, not getting enough sleep, poor nutrition habits, lack of exercise, and psychological stress. If you’re chronically stressed, your high levels of cortisol will interfere with your body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response. This includes dry, irritated eyes as well.
How Does Stress Cause Dry Eyes?
This increase in chronic inflammation can lead to dryness, among other chronic conditions of the body. This connection was made when Dr. Brisco kept seeing patients with dry, irritated eyes and eyelid issues. She treated them with prescription medications that worked for awhile but often those patients would be back. She began to notice that those who experienced flare-ups of eye and eyelid inflammation were going through stressful events. This could be an issue at work, a lack of sleep, a move, or anything else that could be stressful in your life.
When you’re stressed out consistently, your body responds to that by depressing your immune system. You may notice that you become sick more easily or you just feel off, and some people notice that their dry eyes will flare up. When the body cannot fight off offending organisms, demodex can even begin to be problematic because of an abundance of bacteria present on the eyelids and eyelashes. Unfortunately, many doctors have not made the connection that stress can lead to dry, irritated eyes.
What Can We Do to Decrease Stress?
1. Go Offline
You don’t realize how much your computer is hurting your eyes until you’re on it all day. Being on a computer screen slows your blink rate by over 50%, so the glands in your eyelids are not being worked as often as they should be. When you blink, this helps release the oily portion of your tear film. Without proper blinking, you’ll notice less oil in your tear film and possibly more stagnation of the oil in your meibomian glands.
If you can’t take a ton of time away from your screen, make sure to at least take visual breaks. The 20-20-20 Rule is great for this. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a rest and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Set a timer so you can be sure it happens!
2. Get Enough Sleep
Your body needs time to regenerate and heal, and sleep can help you do this. Also, you’ll be giving your eyes a much needed break during the time you’re in bed. To get better sleep, use blackout curtains, white noise, turn off your phone at least an hour before going to bed, and consider wearing blue light blocking glasses during nighttime activities in front of a screen.
3. Healthy Eating
Nutritional foods and hydrating foods all help with decreasing stress and inflammation in the body. To learn more about how to eat for health, check out this article.
Dr. Brisco has an acupuncturist in her office, and it is such a great therapy for stress and anxiety. When you’re incredibly stressed, your body feels it in so many ways because your cells are misfiring. Acupuncture helps your body’s energy flow by redirecting energy in your body through small needles. It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t an instant fix. It may take many sessions to feel the benefits, so don’t give up on it after one try!
Daily meditation has been clinically shown to decrease stress and strengthen brain activity. It helps you stay balanced, helps you clear your mind, and decreases chronic stress. In addition to this, keeping a gratitude journal can be very therapeutic. Each day, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for during that day. This helps you find the good within your day, each and every day, no matter what is going on in your life.
Artificial tears really don’t do much for your eyes, aside from providing symptom relief for a few minutes. They’re not getting to the root of the problem. Because of this, Dr. Brisco doesn’t prescribe any artificial tears for her patients, but rather prescribes tear stimulation drops. The homeopathic ingredients send a message to the brain to release your own natural tears. This is so much better than the temporary fix of regular artificial tears. However, if your meibomian glands are blocked, these drops are not going to do much for you until you fix this issue.
Allergies are a big issue for many people, and they can exacerbate dryness. Allergy desensitization drops are much more than an antihistamine. They actually desensitize the body so your body does not overreact to allergens. These homeopathic medications are incredibly safe, affordable and work well for patients.
Dr. Brisco’s Favorite Natural Treatments for Dry Eye
If you see Dr. Brisco in her clinic, she’ll take a multipronged approach with you. She’ll first give you a symptom questionnaire to gauge where you are in your dryness journey. It’s so important to ask the right questions! She’ll then use an infrared camera to visualize your meibomian gland structure. She’ll do an eyelid evaluation and press on your tear glands to see what comes out.
Management begins with heat, because you want to melt the stagnant oil in your glands that may be blocking the oil production process. She will prescribe both home therapy and in-office infrared mask treatment. Infrared light is great for this because it increases circulation and improves healing. The combination is very effective. After this, eyelid massage is important to get the stagnant oils moving.
If you have blepharitis, which many people do, it’s important to do more than simple lid scrubs to get the scurf and flakes off of your lids and lashes. The NuLids device is a wonderful at-home device you can use to remove biofilm and crusting on the eyelid margins. Used once per day, many patients notice extreme benefits and it’s so simple to use. Think of it like a toothbrush for your eyelids!
After scrubbing the eyelid margins with NuLids and removing biofilm, Dr. Brisco likes to recommend Zocular products, which are okra based. Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser may also be used to cleanse the eyelids.
In addition to all of this, you have to give your body nutritional support. If you won’t, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for eye health, but more important may be the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in your diet. Consider taking an omega-3 supplement if you’re not a big fish eater. Lastly, remember that your body has the ability to heal itself if you let it, so take time to treat your body well and it will love you back.
If you’d like to contact Dr. Brisco, visit her websiteand make sure to follow her on Instagram @hollywoodeyes. In addition, make sure to check out the NearSight device, explained below.
The NearSight Device
An invention of Dr. Brisco, this device lives on your phone and eliminates the need for reading glasses. So many people aren’t proud to say they’re middle aged, and whipping out your reading glasses is a surefire way to let everyone know. The NearSight avoids this issue altogether. This product is a phone case with a reading lens attachment that allows you to see on and off your phone without reading glasses. We can’t wait to see the final product!
About Dr. Brisco
Dr. Brisco is an Integrative Optometrist and Certified Clinical Homeopath. She is one of the premiere optometrists in the country. She publishes and lectures nationally about how she combines both western and eastern treatment philosophies with cutting edge technology.
Dr. Brisco has been on more than 400+ national and international TV, radio, internet, podcast and print interviews including: The Doctors, Inside Edition, KTLA, ABC, CBS, FOX, KTTV, Disney Channel, Home and Family Show, California by Design Innovations, Good Housekeeping, Cosmo magazine, and Vogue.
Some of Dr. Brisco’s other professional highlights include:
Chief Medical Advisor, Natural Ophthalmics
Co-founder: Rehabilitative Vision Clinic at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center (now at California Rehabilitation Institute)
President, Hollywood Vision Center Optometry (multi-disciplinary)
Served as the Team Optometrist for the NHL Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy, Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta
Dr. Brisco is a fitness enthusiast. You can find her boxing, kickboxing, playing tennis, skiing, and coaching AYSO soccer and Little League baseball.
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