An Introduction To The Epidemiology Of Dry Eye Syndrome

An understanding of the epidemiology of dry eye syndrome will give you insight to a common condition that affects millions of people all over the world. It’s irritating, painful and often under-diagnosed or dismissed by healthcare professionals.

Dry Eyes: The Increasing Prevalence of This Common Condition

While surveys suggest that at least four million Americans suffer from chronic dry eye syndrome, studies reveal that the number may in fact be much larger (Saint Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute, 2010).
Dry eyes, or keratitis sicca, is one of the most common conditions reported by patients to their doctors. This complaint is commonly dismissed by doctors and other healthcare professionals, which may result in the patient being undiagnosed and untreated. Without treatment, dry eye syndrome can result in serious consequences, including infection and loss of vision.

Who Gets Dry Eye?

Anyone can suffer from dry eye syndrome, but some individuals seem to be more prone than others. Women account for more than half of dry eye diagnoses and are generally more at risk–especially if they’re postmenopausal or receiving hormonal replacement therapy, such as estrogen or progesterone (National Eye Institute, 2009).
Seniors have an elevated risk of dry eyes. Persons over the age of 40 seem to exhibit an increased risk, and the risk factor nearly doubles in patients over the age of 59. Seniors over 80 years old face the greatest risk of chronic dry eye syndrome, with their numbers nearly tripling any other age group (P and T Digest, 2003).
Dry eye syndrome seems to affect all races and ethnicities.

Other Factors That Contribute to Dry Eye Syndrome

Other people who face an elevated risk of dry eye syndrome include people who have an autoimmune disorder, such as multiple sclerosis or Sjogren’s disease, or people who have undergone radiation treatments or chemotherapy for cancer.
Dry eye syndrome is one of the leading complaints of patients who have undergone LASIK surgery. Pregnant women frequently report dry eyes as a side effect, but this is usually temporary.
People who don’t consume enough vitamin A seem to have an increased risk of dry eyes and other ocular disorders. Find out about other ways your diet may impact dry eye syndrome to reduce your risk of recurrent dry eyes.