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It may not have been obvious to fans, but there were times that actress Marisa Tomei really struggled on stage and screen. It wasn’t difficulty getting into character, forgetting lines or even mastering a Brooklyn accent. Instead Tomei was driven to distraction by the symptoms of chronic dry eye disease.
“The discomfort posed a challenge in front of the camera, on stage and while traveling,” she tells Beauty in the Bag. “It felt like there was grit in my eye, and I didn’t know what it was. I only knew it was uncomfortable all the time,” the Academy award-winning actress tells Beauty In The Bag.
Dry eye occurs when tears don’t provide adequate moisture, according to The National Eye Institute. Symptoms may include stinging or burning of the eye; a sandy or gritty feeling in the eye; pain and redness of the eye, and inability to cry when emotionally stressed. (The latter which could be incredibly difficult for an actress even one with as wide of a range as Tomei.)
The diagnosis came as something of a relief to Tomei, who is about to start shooting Spiderman. “It was nice to know there was actually a reason why my eyes were feeling so dry.”
Tomei is not alone, says Christopher E. Starr, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Director of Laser Vision Correction Surgery, and Director of the Fellowship Program in Cornea, Cataract & Refractive Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. “There are a lot of people who suffer from Chronic Dry Eye disease and don’t realize it’s a real condition or disease,” he says. “For anyone who notices they are using artificial tear drops more frequently, or is concerned about their eyes during the day/blinking a lot, these are signs you may have the condition. “
Treatment is available, he says. “I was so happy to find something that worked for me. RESTASIS® has become part of my daily routine, using it in the morning as I’m taking my vitamins and at night after washing my face.” RESTASIS® helps increase tear production. Tomei is now partnering with RESTASIS® manufacturer Allergan to raise awareness about chronic dry eye disease and raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization that Allergan supports as well. “Guide Dogs for the Blind is a great organization that doesn’t receive any government funding and helps empower those with low vision through the service of highly qualified guide dogs,” she says, Allergan will donate $1 to Guide Dogs for the Blind for every Dry Eye Quiz taken on RESTASIS.com.
TIPS FROM THE PROS FOR MANAGING DRY EYES
“There are other things you can do on a day-to-day basis to help reduce symptoms, such as limiting the use of computers/mobile devices as they make us tear less and have dry spots, staying hydrated and avoiding low humidity and blowing air vents,” Dr. Starr says.
The Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society offers make-up tips for women like Tomei who have dry eyes. The group recommends removing all eye makeup before bed with a ‘sensitive eye makeup remover.’ Not removing eye makeup contributes to irritation and inflammation. Waterproof mascara or eyeliner is another no-no as these clog the meibomian glands and are more irritating to remove. It’s also important to stick with basic black since dyes used in colored formulas are more likely to bother sensitive eyes. And replace your eye makeup every 3 months and clean your eye makeup brushes regularly with an organic “shampoo” or cleanser, the group states.