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Marisa Tomei Puts Dry Eye In Spotlight

By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On Jul 29, 2016
Marisa Tomei Puts Dry Eye In Spotlight

By Ruchel Louis Coetzee

Oscar winning actress, Marisa Tomei, never suspected that the tired, gritty feeling in her eyes was anything other than just plain exhaustion. It took a visit to her eye specialist to diagnose that what she was experiencing was a symptom of Chronic Dry Eye (CDE). For millions of people, CDE is an uncomfortable and painful problem, which can also increase with age. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an estimated 3.2 million women age 50 and over and 1.68 million men age 50 and over are affected with dry eye syndrome.

Christopher Starr, MD, FACS, who currently serves as the Director of the Fellowship Program in Cornea, Cataract & Laser Vision Correction Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, wants everyone to know that they don’t have to suffer with dry eye – there are solutions. This came as a surprise to Tomei who thought otherwise.  After being prescribed RESTASIS 0.05% to reduce the inflammation caused by dry eye and help increase her eyes natural ability to produce tears, Tomei felt compelled to share her story with others.  She has now teamed up with Guide Dogs of the Blind to encourage others to take the simple Dry Eye quiz on www.RESTASIS.com and share their results with their eye doctor. For every quiz taken from July 20, 2016 through December 31, 2016, Allergan, makers of RESTASIS, will donate $1 to Guide Dogs for the Blind as part of its ongoing commitment and dedication to the eye care community. Today, Allergan and a very respectable research organization called The Tear Film Ocular Society (TFOS), www.tearfilm.org are at the forefront of CDE research and development.

Here, Tomei and Dr. Starr offer some salient advice regarding dry eye, its symptoms and the importance of having your eyes tested for even the most inconvenient discomfort.

When were you diagnosed with dry eye and do you know what caused it?

Marisa Tomei – It was a gritty feeling – my eyes felt tired and my vision fluctuated a little bit throughout the day. I thought it was old, tired eyes – I didn’t know it was a thing until I talked to my doctor. So, I felt relieved to find something that helped me but it took me going to the doctor to know that.

What surprised you the most after you were diagnosed?

Marisa Tomei – Just that it is a very common disease and that there is an easy solution – that was probably the biggest surprise.

Do you know what caused your dry eye disease?

Dr. Christopher Starr – There are many, many things that can either cause or exacerbate dry eye disease. Cosmetic eye surgery is one reason – other reasons could be make-up, contact lenses, or any eye surgery the can cause dryness. Certain medications that people take for other things such as allergies or blood pressure can dry out the eyes. We all stare at the computer every day – that can do it as well. Aging, hormonal changes, and all kinds of things can contribute to dry eye disease, which is why it’s so ubiquitous. Over 30 million Americans today have dry eye disease. A lot of people suffer with it and don’t realize they have it.

Marisa, are you still wearing any make-up – how are you approaching your make-up right now?

Marisa Tomei – Nothing specific in my make-up routine but everybody is different. I try to drink a lot of water and that’s important for anybody to stay hydrated.

What would you like everyone to know about the latest research on CDE?

 Dr. Starr – I want everyone to know that you don’t have to suffer with dry eye! A lot of people are walking around suffering – I did it myself for many years, so did Marisa and millions of other Americans. People around the world are walking around while being bothered by their eyes on a daily basis – you don’t have to suffer or pour artificial tears in every time you have a symptom. There is a treatment that can reduce your need for artificial tears which can, in turn, reduce your symptoms of dry eye – that, of course, is RESTASIS. That’s why we have to raise awareness for treating dry eye.

Why do you feel so passionate about teaming up with Guide Dogs for the Blind?

 Marisa Tomei – The opportunity came up when Allergan introduced me to this organization and I’m passionate about it because they donate their services for free. Guide Dogs for the Blind doesn’t get any government funding at all so this kind of pairing is really a win-win for everybody and it’s very empowering to the people who are blind or visually impaired that are paired up with these wonderful guide dogs. I got to hang out with one of them. It’s a very worthwhile organization, so if you take the quiz at www.restasis.com, it will give a dollar for every quiz taken and you can find out if you have chronic dry eye and at the same time support Guide Dogs for the Blind.

What are some of the great new discoveries in the field of CDE?

Dr. Starr – RESTASIS is the big one. It’s been around for 13 years so it is not new but it’s the only FDA approved medication for increasing tear production in those people with chronic dry eye and inflammation. There are also other things in the dry eye space. In the last decade, we’ve gained a lot of new understanding of dry eye conditions, the inflammation associated with it, and the new diagnostic tests that we’re using more commonly that are a little more sensitive than our traditional means of diagnosing it.

How familiar are you with TFOS (Tear Film and Ocular Society) and the Sullivan family?

Dr. Starr – I am an active participant in their great organization. I’m also a member of their Dry Eye workshop which of course is going to be a great publication in 2017 – it is going to come out with a lot of new information on dry eye disease and inflammation around dry eye. You asked a question about make-up. David and Amy Sullivan are putting together a campaign to help raise awareness in the area about make-up and how make-up can affect the eyes and dry eye sufferers in particular, with some great tips on removing make-up and which make-up is better.

Is there anything else you feel passionate about regarding this partnership and the health of our eyes?

Marisa Tomei – It’s so important and it’s something that can really make the difference every single day in your life, in your comfort ability, your happiness, and your energy level, so definitely talk to your doctor about it, take the quiz on www.RESTASIS.com, and support Guide Dogs for the Blind www.guidedogs.com

Dr. Starr – I agree with Marisa. We’re both very passionate about this. We are here trying to raise awareness for all those people out there who will read this, who might say, ‘gee, I have those symptoms and I’ve been suffering with this for a while and I haven’t sought out treatment and I’m not using RESTASIS and I’m suffering – gee, I should go see my eye doctor or I should go to RESTASIS.com and take the quiz!’ It is the reason why we’re here talking about it.