Monday, July 31, 2006

Dry Eye Hot Spots

From the editor's desk

July 1, 2006

NEW TO THE DRY EYE ZONE? Let me introduce myself... My name is Rebecca and I run this website and company and write the newsletter and that's all you need to know about me right now, although you'll probably learn a bit more along the way if you do much reading on this website or on Dry Eye Talk. (By the way... if you haven't registered on Talk yet, please do. It's free, it's easy, it's a terrific group of people and we get into some fascinating discussions on anything and everything related to dry eye.) If you ever need to get in touch with me, you can always reach me by email or phone.

YES, THIS IS NOW A MONTHLY! I finally bit the bullet. Mind you, I was actually rather attached to my original concept of an 'irregular' newsletter. What's the fun in being predictable? Unfortunately, the reality is that I've always been one of those deadline-oriented people... you know, the ones that always wrote the report at 3 am the day before it was due? No hard & fast deadline meant it just never seemed to get done and much as I enjoy catching up on medical literature, it's always been the first to go when the daily fires push things off the bottom of the priority list and onto the do-it-sometime stack. Last time I tried to lift the stack, I found it was heavier than my daughter. So, it was time for a change. From now on, deo volente, you'll be seeing new stuff on these pages around the beginning of each month.

WHAT THIS PAGE IS FOR: Every now and then I get the urge to ramble about something.

So, on to this month's ramble....

Dry Eye Hot Spots (NWHRC)

National Women's Health Resource Center recently released a list of their assessment of the top 100 cities with environmental conditions most likely to aggravate dry eye. But if you figure they're all in Nevada, just because the list starts with Las Vegas, you're way off (after all, how many cities ARE there in Nevada?).

The rankings were produced with a weighted average of the following six criteria:

altitude
humidity levels
pollution
temperature
wind
ocular allergy irritants
Of course, we could have saved them a lot of time and money by letting them know that you really only need one criterion: AIR CONDITIONING (or HEATING, depending on your latitude.) Did you feel that breeze? It was the collective sighs of 15 million fellow Florida residents, rapidly followed by those of 10 million in Michigan. But hey, nobody asked us, and who are we to butt in anyway.

It's an interesting list, and it's spawned at least a little coverage, including Forbes and Medical News Today (UK) so far. If nothing else it's going to give lots of people bragging rights. Make that complaining rights. ('After all, I live in the 6th worst dry eye city in America!')

Anyway, here's the top 25 in NWHRC's list. I've taken the liberty of correcting their typing. Well, maybe they did mean to have two twos, nineteens, twenty-sixes and so on, but it still looks funny. For the complete list of 100, click here.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada. (No-brainer, even without factoring in the smoke in the casinos.)
EL PASO, Texas.
LUBBOCK, Texas. (Home of the first international symposium on dry eye back in 1984, ironically but not coincidentally.)
MIDLAND/ODESSA, Texas.
DALLAS/FORT WORTH, Texas. (Do I sense a pattern here?)
ATLANTA, Georgia. (Proof at last that humidity is not a cureall for dry eye.)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. (Naw.)
PHOENIX, Arizona. (Average high temperature this month is 105 degrees.)
AMARILLO, Texas. (At that size surely they could have lumped it with Lubbock. On second thought they might as well have listed 'West Texas'.)
HONOLULU, Hawaii. (Don't worry, if you were justifying your vacation on the basis it will help your eyes just switch to Kauai.)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico. (Last time I tried to get some advice for a patient there, the doctors just rolled their eyes and said 'She needs to move.')
TUCSON, Arizona.
NORFOLK, Virginia (And they call this urban renewal?)
NEWARK, New Jersey. (OK I'll stop now.)
BOSTON, Massachusetts. (Oops, I take it back. Beantown residents with dry eye at least have some great nearby resources for treatment.)
DENVER, Colorado.
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania.
BAKERSFIELD, California.
WICHITA, Kansas.
DAYTON, Ohio.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri.
NEW YORK, New York.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania.
BALTIMORE, Maryland.
Our headquarters (Tampa) came in at a respectable #45. I'm surprised that Houston was way down there at #79 - seems like we get calls from dry eye patients in Houston every other day.

I have a strange, nagging feeling about this list. Ah, yes, I've got it now! Somebody please tell me what the point of it is, other than to make headlines. I mean seriously, now that you've ruled out every major metropolitan area where the sun shines more frequently than Seattle and Portland, and most of the small towns in Texas, where is someone with dry eye and money to burn supposed to pull up roots and move to? Can't you at least give us a hint, like which Caribbean islands are most benign for dry eye?

Now pardon me while I go write the newsletter, before my first attempt at a schedule goes up in smoke! See you in a month.

Rebecca Petris
The Dry Eye Zone