5 Famous Celebrities Who Battle Dry Eye | What You Need to Know About This Disease

an image of a person with dry eye

Dry eye disease (DED), also known as dysfunctional tear syndrome, is a common eye condition affecting numerous people across the globe. With approximately 20 million individuals affected in the United States alone (and 344 million worldwide) according to recent data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this condition often goes unrecognized, misdiagnosed, or undertreated. 

While it may sound like a minor inconvenience, its impact can be surprisingly debilitating. Even those in the limelight, adored by millions, aren’t immune to its discomfort. Before we get to know famous celebrities who are battling this eye condition, let’s delve into the profound discussion about dry eye syndrome, its causes, symptoms, and tips on how to prevent this disease. Please read along. 

What Is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease is a common ocular condition characterized by a lack of sufficient moisture and lubrication on the surface of the eye. Tears play an essential role in maintaining the health and comfort of the eyes by providing moisture, nutrients, and protection against infections. However, in individuals with dry eye syndrome, the quantity or quality of tears produced is inadequate, resulting in a range of uncomfortable symptoms. 

These symptoms may include persistent dryness, itching, burning, stinging sensations, redness, sensitivity to light, and fluctuating or blurred vision. Left untreated, dry eye syndrome can lead to more serious complications, such as corneal ulcers, scarring, and even vision loss in severe cases. Therefore, it is essential for individuals experiencing symptoms of dry eye to seek evaluation and appropriate management from an eye care professional.

What Causes Dry Eye?

Here are the leading causes of dry eye syndrome:

  • Aging: As individuals age, the production of tears tends to diminish, leading to a higher prevalence of dry eye syndrome among older adults.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to dry or windy climates, smoke, air conditioning, and heating systems can contribute to the development of dry eye symptoms.
  • Improper Contact Lens Wear: Incorrect usage of contact lenses, especially without proper hygiene or in environments with low humidity, can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Always follow the tips provided by your eye care specialist. 
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases (e.g., Sjögren’s syndrome), diabetes, thyroid disorders, and inflammatory disorders, can increase the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.
  • Medications: Some medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapies, can reduce tear production or alter tear composition, leading to dry eye symptoms.

Celebrities Who Suffer from Dry Eye

Here are five celebrities who have openly shared their struggles with dry eye:

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston suffered from dry eye disease.
Courtesy: @jenniferaniston/IG

Born on February 11, 1969, Jennifer Joanna Aniston is an American actress renowned for her portrayal of Rachel Green on the hit sitcom “Friends” from 1994 to 2004. Her stellar performance earned her several prestigious awards, including Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards. 

Aniston has consistently ranked as one of the world’s highest-paid actresses, with a net worth estimated at $300 million. Beyond acting, she co-founded the production company Echo Films in 2008. Aniston’s influence extends beyond Hollywood, with her widespread recognition and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Notwithstanding her huge success in life, Jennifer has also dealt with health problems just like any ordinary individual would. In an interview about her eye condition, Aniston said she had dry eye for years, but she just didn’t know what it was. I really didn’t know, and I was just constantly using eye drops. It got to the point when I was using eye drops two to three times every hour to feel relief because it was so painful and so irritating and itchy. It got in the way of the joys of my daily life. Reading scripts started to become impossible. I was getting headaches. My eyes were swollen and irritated,” the “Friends” star revealed. 

Despite her hectic schedule, Aniston didn’t let dry eye hinder her career. She has sought medical help for her condition and has found relief from that eye problem. She has also spoken about the importance of eye care and has since advocated for proper eye hygiene.

Mandy Moore

Courtesy: @mandymooremm/IG

Amanda Leigh Moore, born on April 10, 1984, is an American singer-songwriter and actress who gained prominence with her debut single “Candy,” reaching #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her first studio album, “So Real” (1999), earned platinum certification from the RIAA. The reissue’s title track, “I Wanna Be With You” (2000), marked Moore’s inaugural top 30 hit in the US, peaking at #24 on the Hot 100. Over her music career, Moore released several studio albums that collectively sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

Mandy Moore transitioned into acting, making her feature film debut with a minor voice role in “Dr. Dolittle 2” (2001) before gaining attention for her supporting role in “The Princess Diaries.” She received critical acclaim for her lead role in the romantic drama “A Walk to Remember” (2002) and starred in various films such as “How to Deal” (2003), “Chasing Liberty” (2004), and “Saved!” (2004). 

However, just like Jennifer Aniston, Mandy Moore has had her fair share of dry eye disease. The “A Walk to Remember” star took to Instagram her battle with this eye condition: My dry eye disease is something I silently struggled with for years. Dry, itchy eyes became my everyday reality, eye drops just weren’t cutting it for me anymore and I truly started to believe I would just have to live with it.” Fortunately for her, she was able to partner with an eye care provider that offered a gentle and effective light-based solution called Optilight, and she has found great relief from her eye condition. As she confidently stressed out on her post, #NotGonnaLiveWithIt. 

Marisa Tomei

Courtesy: @marisatomei/IG

Marisa Tomei, born on December 4, 1964, is an acclaimed American actress known for her versatile performances across film and television. She first gained widespread recognition for her comedic role in “My Cousin Vinny” (1992), which earned her the prestigious Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Tomei continued to showcase her talent with further nominations in the same category for her roles in “In the Bedroom” (2001) and “The Wrestler” (2008).

Aside from her several soap operas and sitcoms, Tomei also left an indelible mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portraying May Parker from “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021), adding depth and warmth to the beloved character. With her remarkable talent and diverse body of work, Marisa Tomei continues to position herself as a respected figure in the entertainment industry.

Talking about her dry eye condition, the Captain America star confessed, “At first, I didn’t give my dry eyes much thought, but after a while they began bothering me throughout the day, causing me to take frequent breaks from filming to reapply over-the-counter eye drops. After examining my eyes, my eye doctor told me I have a type of chronic dry eye disease. I was relieved to know there was a reason why my eyes were feeling so dry, and I now use RESTASIS to help my eyes make more of their own tears.”

Venus Williams

Courtesy: @venuswilliams/IG

Venus Ebony Starr Williams, born on June 17, 1980, is a distinguished American professional tennis player renowned for her remarkable achievements on the court. Holding the esteemed position of former world No. 1 in both singles and doubles, Williams has secured an impressive array of titles throughout her career. With seven Grand Slam singles titles to her name, including five victories at Wimbledon and two at the US Open, she is widely celebrated as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

In addition to her singles success, Williams has enjoyed tremendous triumphs in women’s doubles, notably clinching 14 major titles alongside her sister Serena Williams. Venus achieved the world No. 1 ranking in doubles for the first time in June 2010, alongside Serena, following their completion of a non-calendar-year Grand Slam at the French Open. 

The sisters also secured three Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles, in 2000, 2008, and 2012, further solidifying their legacy as tennis icons. Venus’ accolades extend beyond doubles, with notable victories in mixed doubles, including two major titles in 1998. Through her exceptional skill, determination, and sportsmanship, Venus Williams has built an enduring legacy in the world of tennis.

However, despite her exceptional athleticism, she has still encountered a health condition that affected her gameplay. Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic and often severe dryness in various areas, including the eyes, mouth, and vagina. “I got too sick to play professional sports before I got my diagnosis and had to completely stop. I was out of the game for nine months,” the tennis pro explained. I live with Sjogren’s syndrome every day can be very uncomfortable,” she added.

Ken Jeong

Courtesy: @kenjeong/IG

Kendrick Kang-Joh Jeong, born on July 13, 1969, is a prominent American stand-up comedian and actor of Korean descent. He gained widespread recognition for his roles as Leslie Chow in The Hangover film series (2009–2013) and Ben Chang in the NBC sitcom Community (2009–2015). Jeong further showcased his talent by creating, writing, and producing the ABC sitcom Dr. Ken (2015–2017), where he portrayed the titular character.

Throughout his career, Jeong has appeared in various notable films, including Knocked Up (2007), Role Models (2008), Furry Vengeance (2010), The Duff (2015), Ride Along 2 (2016), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Scoob! (2020), and Tom & Jerry (2021). In addition to his acting roles, Jeong has become a familiar face on television as a panelist on the American version of the singing competition show The Masked Singer and as the host of I Can See Your Voice. His versatility as both a comedian and actor has earned him widespread acclaim and solidified his status as a multifaceted talent in the entertainment industry.

Jeong initially pursued a career in medicine and is a licensed physician in California. However, he eventually transitioned to acting full-time, putting his medical practice on hold. Notwithstanding his solid medical background, Jeong wasn’t immune to health issues. “I’ve suffered from dry eyes, whether it be in a hospital setting, or a film or TV production setting,” “The Masked Singer” panelist Jeong said in an interview with Newsweek. “Just having the feeling—sand in your eyes. It’s a chronic problem,” he added. 

These celebrities remind us that dry eye can affect anyone, regardless of fame or fortune. Their openness about their struggles not only helps reduce the stigma surrounding the condition but also encourages others to seek proper diagnosis and treatment.

How Debilitating Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye can significantly impair daily activities and quality of life. Symptoms like persistent dryness and irritation can make tasks such as reading, driving, or working on a computer challenging. Moreover, severe cases of dry eye can lead to corneal damage and an increased risk of eye infections if left untreated, further exacerbating the condition’s impact. 

Therefore, while dry eye may seem less serious, its effects can be far-reaching and profoundly disruptive to daily functioning.

How Do You Fix Dry Eyes?

Treatment options for dry eyes vary depending on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. Here are some common strategies:

  • Artificial Tears: Over-the-counter artificial tear drops can help lubricate the eyes and provide relief from dryness and discomfort.
  • Prescription Eye Drops: In more severe cases, prescription eye drops such as cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra) may be recommended to reduce inflammation and increase tear production.
  • Punctal Plugs: These tiny plugs can be inserted into the tear ducts to block drainage and keep the tears on the surface of the eyes longer, increasing moisture.
  • Warm Compresses and Lid Massage: Applying warm compresses and gently massaging the eyelids can help unclog blocked oil glands and improve tear quality.
  • Nutritional Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, may help reduce inflammation and improve eye lubrication.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding dry or windy environments, taking regular breaks during screen time, using a humidifier indoors, and staying hydrated can all help alleviate dry eye symptoms.
  • Prescription Medications: In some cases, medications such as oral antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to address underlying conditions contributing to dry eyes, such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction.
  • LipiFlow: This in-office procedure uses heat and gentle pressure to unclog blocked oil glands in the eyelids, improving tear composition and quality.

If you’re experiencing persistent eye discomfort or suspect you may have dry eye syndrome, it’s essential to consult an eye care professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

Does Dry Eye Go Away?

Dry eye can vary in severity and duration, depending on its underlying causes and individual factors. While some cases of dry eye may resolve on their own or with simple interventions like over-the-counter artificial tears or lifestyle adjustments, others may persist or worsen over time. In some instances, addressing the underlying factors contributing to dry eye, such as environmental conditions, medication side effects, or systemic health issues, can help alleviate symptoms and improve eye comfort.

However, for individuals with chronic or severe dry eye, the condition may require ongoing management and treatment to maintain eye health and alleviate discomfort. This could involve a combination of prescription medications, in-office procedures, or lifestyle modifications tailored to address the specific needs of each individual. Therefore, while dry eye may not always go away completely, proactive management strategies can significantly improve symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.

Key Takeaway

The experiences of these five famous celebrities shed light on the reality of battling dry eye, a condition that affects millions worldwide. Whether caused by improper contact lens use, environmental factors, or underlying medical conditions, dry eye can have a significant impact on daily life and overall well-being. 

By recognizing the signs, seeking proper treatment, and adopting preventive measures, individuals can alleviate discomfort and safeguard their eye health. So, take heed of their stories and remember to prioritize your eye care to ensure clear vision and lasting comfort.