The results, published in the journal BMJ Open, showed that a higher proportion of participants with dry eye disease had problems with mobility and experienced more difficulties in their day-to-day activities than patients without the condition. The surveys also revealed they were more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Those with the most severe symptoms we more likely to experience a negative impact on their social and emotional functioning as well work productivity, including missing more time from work as a result of their symptoms.
Dr Parwez Hossain, Associate Professor in Ophthalmology at the University of Southampton, led the study. He said: “This study provided some very useful information on the burden that dry eye disease places on patients. As well as confirming the impact on work and social lives we also discovered showed that the extent of the effects are consistent with the severity of symptoms. We also found that participants with dry eye disease symptoms were a lot more likely to suffer from other comorbidities, twice as many suffered from arthritis, hearing loss or irritable bowel disease compared to the cohort without symptoms. Whilst we cannot draw causal associations through this study, the presence of dry eye disease does appear to impact on an individual’s health and vision related quality of life.”
Whilst both groups reported similar levels of digital screen use and reading, the cohort with symptoms reported more exposure to environmental factors such as air conditioning, forced heating or air pollution. The research team believe that these factors could either contribute to dry eye disease, or be noticed more by sufferers.