Dry eye is a topic eliciting much discussion among our colleagues. Many of us dive headlong into the topic. There has been an explosion of information about the condition in the last decade, every continuing education meeting has several presentations on the subject, and a cottage industry has sprung up concerning diagnosis and management of the disease. For good reason. What was once considered an afterthought in our practices has been shown to be ubiquitous and has become an inevitable public health problem.
Common and costly
Dry eye is one of the most common ophthalmic conditions, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Dry eye affects five percent to 30 percent of the world population 50 years and older, with women representing approximately two-thirds of those affected.1 The disease is increasing in younger patients.
Dry eye has a significant impact on quality of life due to chronic symptoms of ocular pain and discomfort in addition to functional vision impairment. Dry eye can impact functional vision, interfering with everyday activities such as driving, reading, computer usage, watching television, and work performance.2 Dry eye negatively impacts mental health as dry eye patients report higher rates of anxiety and depression.3
Dry eye disease is among the most common reasons for visiting eye care practitioners and represents a substantial health and cost burden. Financially, dry eye is estimated to cost $3.84 billion per year to the healthcare system with an average annual cost of $783 per patient for treatment.4
1. Stapleton F, Alves M, Bunya VY, Jalbert, Lekhanont K, Malet F, Na KS, Schaumberg D, Uchino M, Vehof J, Viso E, Vitale S,
Jones L. TFOS DEWS II Epidemiology Report. Ocul Surf. 2017 Jul;15(3):334-365.
2. Miljanović B, Dana R, Sullivan DA, Schaumberg DA. Impact of dry eye syndrome on vision-related quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 Mar;143(3):409 15.
3. Li M, Gong L, Sun X, Chapin WJ. Anxiety and depression in patients with dry eye syndrome. Curr Eye Res. 2011 Jan;36(1):1-7.
4. McDonald M, Patel DA, Keith MS, Snedecor SJ. Economic and humanistic burden of dry eye disease in Europe, North America, and Asia: a systematic literature review. Ocul Surf. 2016 Apr;14(2):144-167.