A new UK study has found that dry eye disease can lead to other overall health issues.
Studies at the University of Southampton have shown that patients with chronic dry eye have a lower quality of life. The findings showed that people with dry eye disease reported a decline in visual function and work productivity. They also had more difficulty in carrying out daily activities and responsibilities.
Millions of people suffer from the condition, and it is one of the top complaints at eye doctor appointments. Dry eye disease can occur to people of all ages, but it is most frequent in women and the elderly. Researchers estimate that approximately one third of adults over 65 have the condition. However, the actual number is likely to be higher because no official clinical trials exist. In addition, people with mild symptoms often do not seek therapy.
What is dry eye disease
Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce low-quality tears. These tears dry quickly, causing the front section of the eye to dry up and become irritated. Sometimes, the eyes produce extremely watery tears to compensate, but they quickly dry up and cause a severe feeling. While dry eyes can be uncomfortable, there are many treatment options available.
Common symptoms of dry eye disease include:
- Eye irritation and redness
- Blurred vision
- A rash or gritty feeling in the eye, as if there is something in it
- Stinging or burning
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Eye upset
- Strings of mucus in or around your eyes
- You have water in your eyes
- You feel pain while wearing contact lenses
According to, due to dry eye American Academy of Ophthalmology:
- Being over 65, especially if you are a woman. (Eyes tend to produce fewer tears with age due to hormonal changes).
- Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease and lupus
- Blepharitis (when the eyelids swell or turn red)
- Penetration (when the eyelids turn); Ectropion (eyelids turn outward)
- Being around smoke, in the air, or in a dry climate
- Looking at the computer screen or phone for extended periods, reading, or any other activity that reduces blink
- Prolonged contact lens wear
- Refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK
- Taking medicines like diuretics, beta-blockers, antihistamines, sleeping pills, psychotropics or heartburn medication
Treatment for dry eye disease:
- Over-the-counter eyedrops known as artificial tears
- Over-the-counter moisturizing gels or ointments to reduce redness and irritation
- Ocular astringents, which are decongestants, are used to reduce inflammation and / or redness.
- Lifestyle changes such as switching medicines that increase dry eye disease, limit screen time, or add a humidifier to your home
The NHS reports that in 2014, doctors wrote 6.4 million prescriptions for dry eye disease. It cost £ 27 million. Since so many people have this condition, the research team wanted to investigate how it affects their lives.
Researchers studied exclusively adults in the UK, using an online survey of a thousand patients. They also surveyed 1,000 adults who did not have dry eye syndrome.
The volunteers filled out a questionnaire given by the National Eye Institute about their visual function. He also completed a Eurocoi questionnaire on his overall health. Those who reported dry eye disease answered further questions about their symptoms.
Researchers found that dry eye is associated with other conditions
Published in, study Magazine BMJ Open, Revealed that participants with dry eye disease had more mobility problems. They also had more difficulty in completing daily tasks without dryness. Surveys also showed that patients were more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
People with severe symptoms experienced a decline in social and emotional functioning. They also had less work productivity, missed working more frequently due to their condition.
Dr. Parvez Hussain, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and lead author at the University of Southampton, said: “This study provided some very useful information about the burden of ocular disease on patients. Along with confirming the effects on work and social life, we also found that the extent of the effects corresponded to the severity of symptoms. ”
While the association between dry eye and other diseases is unclear, the study noted an overall decline in health.
“We also found that participants with symptoms of dry eye disease were more likely to suffer from other comorbidities; Twice as many people had arthritis, hearing loss, or irritable bowel disease compared to the cohort without symptoms. Until we can draw causal associations through this study, the presence of dry eye disease affects a person’s health and quality of life related to vision, ”said Hussain.
Both groups reported similar levels of reading and screen time. However, the dry eye group reported a higher risk for environmental irritant such as air conditioning, heating and air pollution. Researchers believe that these factors may increase dry eye disease or there is greater awareness in patients.
Final Thoughts: Dry Eyes Linked to Other Comorbidities and Decreased Overall Health
As this study shows, your eyes say more about your health. Researchers found that people with dry eye disease reported more difficulty with daily tasks and less visual function. They also appeared to have higher instances of anxiety and depression and missed working more often. Many dry eye sufferers had arthritis, hearing loss or irritable bowel syndrome compared to the other group.
Researchers say that the relationship between dry eye and other diseases is unclear without study. However, it affects the quality of life of patients according to self-reported symptoms. Hopefully, future research will provide more answers on how dry eye disease impacts overall health.