Dry eyes and acne, is there a connection?
The birth of Zocular, an okra-based natural treatment for dry eye symptoms, began long before Dr. Peter Pham began his development and research to try to find relief for his patients who were suffering from dry eye. To understand how and why Zocular came to fruition, we must step back in time and delve into a bit of medical history to gain a better understanding of the problems and issues regarding dry eyes.
For as long as humans have existed, the issue of dry eye has been a persistent problem, even if there were no formal hieroglyphics or papyrus writings about dry eyes from ancient history. But we don’t need to turn back history too far to appreciate the dry eye paradox. Let’s fast forward in time to early 2000 when the first drug was approved by the FDA for the treatment of dry eyes, which was a topical solution of cyclosporine – commonly known as Restasis. Before the introduction of this drug, the main treatment for dry eye was (and continues to be) artificial tear replacement products. Artificial tears and cyclosporine, as approved by the FDA, are used to replace or increase tear production. Therein lies the crux of the problem with dry eye treatment. The available treatment options don’t really address the underlying cause of dry eyes.
“Dry eye” is a misnomer. Only a small fraction of dry eye cases is actually caused by a lack of “tears”, or aqueous component of it. Over 85% of dry eye sufferers have meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD. This is a long, complex medical term that conveys little meaning is used to describe an eyelid disease whereby the oil glands along the edge of the eyelids are not functioning, as they should. The acronym MGD is one of the more abbreviated terms since there are some even longer and more confusing medical names to subdivide, dissect, and stratify the different areas of the eyelid, which may be “dysfunctional”.
Zocular’s genesis began with three key insights by Dr. Peter Pham. The first was the problematic description of the disease process behind dry eyes and the second was the recognition that the eye is not a separate,walled off and unrelated part of human physiology and anatomy. Remembering the advice of his research advisor from undergraduate and medical school who once told him to never go searching for an answer unless you know you’ve asked the right question. With that timeless advice, Dr. Pham asked himself a simple question – what other disease process is almost identical to that which causes dry eye? The answered turned out to be ACNE!
The conceptualization of acne with dry eye disease allows us to distil the complex issues regarding the treatment and management of two very common diseases that affect countless millions of Americans and billions worldwide. Both acne and dry eye disease have almost identical disease mechanism even though their appearance and symptoms may seem completely unrelated. The pimples seen on the face is felt as grittiness, redness, dryness, and tearing on the eyes. Finding a solution to acne allows us to simultaneously treat two widespread problems in two disparate domains of medicine – dermatology and ophthalmology. And perhaps address even more medical problems.
Mild acne begins with clogging to the oil glands on the skin, which lead to what is commonly known as “whiteheads” or comedones. Similarly, the oil glands of the eyelids called meibomian glands also become clogged in dry eyes. Clogged oil glands can lead to an inflammatory response, which is seen as redness, swelling, and tenderness on the skin. And when there is the coexisting infection due to the bacteria commonly found on the skin, an abscess can form. A similar series of events occur on the eyelids which are observed asstyes and inflamed chalazions – the red, painful bumps on the eyelids. The most severe form of acne leads to scarring of the skin. Not surprisingly, the most severe and most difficult to treat form of dry eyes occurs when there’s been so much inflammation that the meibomian glands are scarred and nonfunctional. The underlying cause for dry eyes, acne, and many other medical problems is inflammation. It’s the body over-response to what is locally present that elicits a mismatched response between healing and injury.
Simple, effective treatment for acne and dry eyes has advanced very little in the past few decades. In fact, acne and dry eyes are treated in almost identical fashion – antibiotics, steroids, and cleansing. This again reinforces the close relationship between the two problems. However, almost all treatments have significant drawbacks. The effectiveness of topical and oral antibiotics for acne and dry eye is clear. However, antibiotics produce significant unwanted side effects that can range from a localized hives to life-threatening systemic allergic response, along with possible nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. There is also the issue with antibiotic resistance that indirectly affects us all. Steroids can be an suitable short term option but leads to too many serious side effects with long term use, which can range from thinning of the skin to increased eye pressure to psychosis. There are also a number of other medications like benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, and dapsone cream that are used to treat acne, but none of them can be used on the eye, and all these medications can cause significant redness, dryness, and irritation on the skin.
The third and final crucial insight which brought about the development of Zocular was Dr. Pham’s final question: is there a natural solution to addressing the underlying problem in acne and dry eye which does not cause dryness, redness, burning, or irritation on the skin or the eyes? The unexpected answer turned out to be a plant called okra! Even though okra has not been used to in any product for the eye or face, Dr. Pham, with his chemistry background, recognized its restorative potential to transform how we address the inflammation associated with dry eyes, acne, and many other medical problems.
The main goals for creating Zocular product was not just to make it effective, but to make it last so there wouldn’t be a need for multiple applications each day, like with many other medications and treatments. As a practicing ophthalmologist, Dr. Pham understood that no matter how well treatment may work, it’s true effectiveness is primarily determined by the dosing schedule. A once a day treatment regimen will always be much more effective than a four-times-per-day one.
After 2 years of research and development, Zocular has introduced a novel okra-based formulation, which changes the paradigm for the treatment of acne and dry eyes. There’s no need for a prescription. There’s no need to swallow pills. There’s no need to wait weeks to see positive results since Zocular products relieve dry eye symptoms within seconds and produce noticeable improvements in acne in less than a week. There’s none of the serious short-term and long-term side effects associated with using steroids or antibiotics. Unlike other acne treatment options that cause significant irritative symptoms in the majority of users, Zocular products are so gentle that they cause little if any skin or eye irritation. And all it takes is one wipe, once a day. Zocular products elicit results without side effects because it directly targets the source of dry eyes and acne with its proprietary Zocusomes, which are okra-infused micelles that deactivate the cycle of inflammation.
For the first time in decades, there is now an effective natural, okra-based treatment option for acne and dry eyes. Zocular products are so effective at short-circuiting the cascade of inflammation that it may also be used for rosacea, for contact dermatitis like poison ivy, and for simple cuts, scrapes, or burns.
There’s no need to decide among hundreds of different over-the-counter products with different brand names but identical ingredients. Only one brand has transformed how acne and dry eyes are addressed with just one wipe once a day. Only one brand has identified, extracted, and formulated an okra-based method directed at the root cause of acne and dry eyes -Zocular.
About Dr. Peter Pham, MD
Dr. Peter Pham is a board-certified ophthalmologist, published researcher, innovator, and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and CEO of Okra Limited and Docferral.com, on online referral and scheduling platform for physicians, dentists, and emergency centers. He is also the Co-Founder of KeepYourSight.org, a telemedicine nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of vision loss by deploying an advanced online system for visual field screening for glaucoma, macular degeneration, strokes, and other medical disorders that affect the visual field.
Zocular® products are the results Dr. Pham’s vision for caring for your most critical sense – your eyes. With his background degree in chemistry, Dr. Pham recognized the soothing and restorative properties of Hibiscus esculentus (aka okra) for the eyes due to its chemical composition and properties. By refining its extract into a transformative formulation with other natural botanicals, Zocular products feel as good as they look, and your eyes can see the difference.
Photo: BP photostock and Zocular®