Are you a heavy computer user? You’ve probably got dry eye problem

30 10 2016

The digital infotainment age not only removes people from personal, face-to-face conversation, but also aggravates the dry eye problem, says a prominent eye doctor.

“The No.1  problem of people always browsing computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones is that they don’t blink as often as they should, which leads to the dry eye syndrome,” says Dr. Cesar G. Espiritu, Manila Doctors Hospital chair for ophthalmology and American Eye Correction Center chief medical officer and preferred practitioner.

“The tear film is a very thin layer of tears on the surface of the eye that keeps the eye healthy,” Espiritu explains. “If the tear film breaks up in ten seconds, you have to blink involuntarily in 10 seconds or less because when you blink, the tear film is redistributed. It’s like recoating the surface of your eye with a film of tears.”


He notes that many call center workers, office secretaries and children playing games on iPads develop dry eye problems because they don’t blink as often as they should.

Espiritu says that for a long time, even eye doctors did not realize that most of the complaints of their patients were due to dry eye. “It was previously undiagnosed and only in the last five or ten years did dry eye get a lot of attention. When the cells inside the gland that produces tears start to atrophy and die, the volume of tears diminishes. So your eyes are prone to dryness.”



Treating dry eyes


To treat the dryness, Espiritu recommends lubricating the eyes every two hours with a tear preparation. Prescribed lubricant eye drops, although higher priced than over-the-counter eye drops, contain certain minerals and compounds that are part of the tear composition and provide the needed nutrients to combat dry eye.

Espiritu, who is chief of the cataract section of The Medical City and a diplomate and board examiner of the Philippine Board of Ophthalmology, says that the usual eye problems associated with aging start to appear above 50.

Aside from dry eye, the common eye problems that afflict senior citizens are diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataract.

“As we grow older, all the endocrine problems already present in the body start to appear,’’ Espiritu says. “Diabetes of the eye becomes more frequent after five years of elevated sugar levels. Endocrinologists refer patients to us if the patient is diabetic five years or more.

“Diabetic retinopathy is associated with symptoms of diabetes and is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness. The problem is that when it is starting, some patients have 20/20 vision. So when that drops, it is too late. If the retina becomes damaged, the patient cannot go back to 20/20 vision. But if detected early and treated early enough, you can retain 20/20 vision.

“If you’re diabetic, you need to consult your eye doctor even before your vision blurs because the damage is permanent more often than not. For blood sugar levels not controlled, consult your ophthalmologist twice a year. If well-controlled, once a year is usually enough.”

As for glaucoma, Espiritu says it can be genetic, familial or sporadic. “Most cases appear after the age of 50 for those with no family history, so that’s something to monitor. There are types of glaucoma that can be managed with eye drops, there are types that require surgery.”

Cataract, Espiritu says, eventually appears in everyone. But some don’t need surgery. “If the cataract is deemed to affect the vision, then surgery is required,” he avers. “For example, between a certified public accountant and a farmer with cataract, most often it is the CPA who needs cataract surgery.”



How to make burgers

28 10 2016



Shop-bought burgers are certainly the easy option but making your own is really simple and once you know a few basics, you can throw the recipe book away and customise to your heart’s content.

Follow these tips for successful burgers every time:


  1. Choose your meat

You want your burger to remain juicy so avoid going too lean. Choose a standard minced meat (usually around 20 % fat) or if you are set on leaner cuisine then 10 % fat is ok, don’t go for less. Beef is the typical meat used in burgers but you could use lamb or pork, or a mixture of beef and pork.


2. Add your flavourings

The world is your oyster when it comes to flavouring your burgers. Grated onion, finely chopped spring onion, crushed garlic, ground spices (cumin, coriander, ground chilli, fajita spice mix etc), mustard, chopped fresh or dried herbs, ground black pepper – pick the flavours you like. Think of tried and tested combinations:

For Italian burgers, add crushed garlic, finely chopped parsley and grated parmesan to beef mince.

For Moroccan burgers, add chopped coriander, ground cumin and a dollop of harissa paste to lamb mince.

For Spanish burgers, add smoked paprika and finely chopped chorizo to pork mince.

If you’re a fan of fromage, instead of topping your burger with cheese, make 2 thinner patties, pop a square of cheese in the middle, then squeeze the edges to seal, like a meat cheese sandwich… just warn your guests about molten oozing when they bite in!

3.  Bind it

If you’re going for a leaner meat or adding bulky ingredients (eg spring onions, onions, chillies), add an egg and a handful of breadcrumbs to bind the burgers.

4. Shape it

Give everything a thorough mix, it’s good to get your hands in for this, then shape into burgers. “Squash the burgers really flat before you cook them. As they cook the meat will constrict, which will make the burgers smaller and fatter. Flatten them down with a spatula during cooking,” suggests Cassie, our food editor.

5.  Season it

“Don’t add salt to the ground meat before it’s shaped, it’ll draw the liquid out of the meat leaving you with a dry burger. Instead sprinkle the outside with salt as it cooks,” adds Cassie.

6. Chill it or freeze it

“Chill your burgers for at least an hour before you cook them,” says senior food editor Barney. “This will help them keep their shape when they’re cooking and stop them falling apart.” You can also freeze them before cooking. Lay them on a tray in the freezer and once they’re frozen, pop them into freezer bags to save space. To defrost them, lay them back on the tray. Defrost throughly before cooking.

7.  Cook it

Pop your burgers on the barbecue or in a hot, non-stick frying pan with a little oil. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes each side for medium and 8 – 9 minutes on each side for well done. The NHS Live Well websiterecommends not leaving any pink meat in your burger.

Cassie suggests the following delicious tip: “Steam it! Once the burger has browned on both sides, pop your cheese on top (if using) and cover with a small bowl or lid to finish off cooking, this will melt the cheese and keep all the lovely meaty juices inside the burger.”


Finally, the buns: Always toast soft buns as it keeps the sauce from sinking into them and gives you a nice contrast of textures.

And there you have it, burgers really are that simple.