Dry Eye Syndrome Affects Quality of Life for Nearly 5 Million in the US


 Study published in March issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology

Philadelphia, March 9, 2007 - As a clinical diagnosis, Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) may not appear to be a major health issue, but in a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found that DES had a significant impact on quality of life. With an estimated prevalence of 7.8% of women and 4.7% of men over 50, it affects 4.8 million people in the United States. Although some risk factors have been identified, the cause of DES is still largely unknown.

DES is characterized by a deficiency in the quantity and/or quality of tears, an unstable tear film, ocular surface damage and bothersome symptoms such as ocular irritation, dryness, fatigue, and fluctuating visual disturbances. It is one of the most frequent reasons patients seek eye care. With few published data on the impact of DES on quality of life, the researchers assessed the effect on several common activities such as reading, driving, computer work, professional work and watching television.

Selecting subjects who were participating in two large studies, the Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study, and who had answered three DES-related questions, supplementary questionnaires were filled out by almost 600 participants. One-third met the criteria for DES.

Writing in the article, Debra A. Schaumberg, ScD, OD, MPH, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Departments of Medicine and Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and fellow investigators state, "DES is a common problem that may often be overlooked clinically as it tends not to be a common cause of permanent visual morbidity as traditionally measured. The interface between the tear film and the surrounding air represents the largest refractive index differential in the human optical system and is consequently of critical importance for clear vision. DES patients with an unstable tear film can usually clear a blurred image temporarily by blinking frequently to redistribute the tear film over the ocular surface. However, this may not be sustainable during activities requiring prolonged gazing, and those with more severe symptoms may experience difficulty keeping their eyes open. Our findings of nearly 3 and 5-fold increased risks of having problems with activities such as reading, computer use and professional work among both women and men with DES who did and did not use artificial tears, respectively, support and extend those of prior studies by pointing to specific areas of functioning that are problematic among people with DES."

"The present study suggests that DES can have a significant impact on visual function that can diminish a person’s quality of everyday living," continues Dr. Schaumberg. "More specifically, the present study shows that crucial daily activities of modern living such as reading, computer use, professional work, driving and TV watching are all negatively impacted by DES."

The article is "Impact of Dry Eye Syndrome on Vision-Related Quality Of Life" by Biljana Miljanović, MD, MPH, MSc; Reza Dana, MD, MPH, MSc; David A. Sullivan, PhD; and Debra A. Schaumberg, ScD, OD, MPH. The authors are affiliated with the Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Miljanović and Schaumberg) and Schepens Eye Research Institute, Departments of Medicine and Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA (Dana, Sullivan, and Schaumberg). It appears in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Volume 143, Number 3, March 2007, and is published by Elsevier.

# # #

Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Maureen Hunter at +1 (215) 239-3671 or m.hunter@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

About The American Journal of Ophthalmology
The American Journal of Ophthalmology is a peer-reviewed, scientific publication that welcomes the submission of original, previously unpublished manuscripts directed to ophthalmologists and visual science specialists describing clinical investigations, clinical observations and clinically relevant laboratory investigations. Published monthly since 1884, the full text of the American Journal of Ophthalmology and supplementary material are also presented on the Internet at www.AJO.com.

The American Journal of Ophthalmology publishes Original Articles, Brief Reports, Perspectives, Editorials, Abstracts, Correspondence, Book Reports and Announcements. Perspectives, Editorials and Abstracts (from other journals) are published by invitation.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics company that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics to professionals and business customers, in a wide range of industries. www.elsevier.com

Media Contact
Maureen Hunter
Strategic Marketing Manager, AJO
+1 215 239-3671
m.hunter@elsevier.com