(BPT) - Sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
Have you noticed that your eyes have started to feel dry or itchy? Are your eyes affected after endless video conferences and binge watching your favorite shows? You may not be alone.
A Novartis-sponsored survey of 1,003 US residents aged 35 years and older found that about one in four respondents said they believed their dry eye symptoms have gotten worse since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.1 A majority (78%) of the 240 participants who reported worsening dry eye symptoms responded that they thought it was a result of increased screen time.1,i Ophthalmologist Elizabeth Yeu, MD, notes, “I've seen a rise in my patients complaining of painful or irritating eye symptoms like dryness, itchiness, occasional blurry vision, redness, burning, stinging, or grittiness. Many people may not realize that these could be symptoms (or signs) of an actual disease called dry eye disease – or DED – which may require help from an eye care professional.”2
What is dry eye disease and who is at risk?
Dr. Yeu explains that dry eye disease (DED) is actually a common reason for seeking care from an eye care professional.3 It is a complex condition affecting the eye’s surface and may present as symptoms including eye discomfort, irritation, or pain.4 An estimated 16 million people in the United States were diagnosed with DED, and an additional 6 million people reported having dry eye symptoms, but had not been diagnosed with DED.5*
“Inflammation in the eye can contribute to dry eye disease, and the symptoms may vary greatly depending on the person. Dry eye is generally more common in women than in men,6 but I’ve seen an uptick in complaints in my practice across all types of patients,” said Dr. Yeu. “Some other risk factors for developing DED include advanced age, hormonal imbalance, and certain environmental factors.”3
Key survey insights
The majority of people surveyed reported experiencing some sort of disruption while using a phone or tablet or watching TV.1,ii Additionally, more than half reported having to stop, decrease, or change the way they read.1,iii And around 40% of those who wear makeup had to stop, decrease, or change the way they were wearing makeup near their eyes.1,iii
“For my patients, making adjustments may have seemed like another everyday nuisance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I told them they shouldn’t have to put up with the pain or impact of disruptive symptoms on their lives,” says Dr. Yeu. “These irritating symptoms are often brought to my attention by my patients, and sometimes dry eye disease is the culprit.”
The survey also found that:1
- About 40%iv of people who were undiagnosed (513) characterized their dry eye disease as a chronic condition or disease
- Two-thirdsv said wind was a triggering environmental factor
- 10%vi felt their work had been impacted by DED
- About one-thirdvii of those surveyed said, hypothetically, they would give up wine or other alcoholic beverages – and more than a quartervii – would give up social media for a year in exchange for alleviated dry eye symptoms
Dry eye disease symptoms may vary drastically from person to person.4 Some people may not realize that their symptoms could be an actual disease which may require help from an eye care professional.2 Dr. Yeu recommends that people visit their eye care provider to help appropriately diagnose and manage their symptoms.
“Our lives are grounded in moments, from big milestones to simple pleasures like family movie night or reading a child’s bedtime story. But these activities may be missed out on, and for some, in my experience, can become more challenging when experiencing dry, itchy, or burning eyes,” says Dr. Yeu. “Ultimately, we want to educate the public on the importance of dry eye disease and encourage those experiencing symptoms to speak to an eyecare professional about how to best manage their condition.”
- Data on File_Meaningful Moments Survey Data_2020_Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp; September 2020.
- Verjee M, Brissette A, Starr C. Dry eye disease: early recognition with guidance on management and treatment for primary care family physicians. Ophthalmol Ther. 2020;9:877-888.
- Stapleton F, Alves M, Bunya V, et al. DEWS II Epidemiology report. Ocul Surf. 2017;334-336.
- Craig J, Nelson J, Azar D, et al. TFOS DEWS II report executive summary. Ocul Surf. 2017;15(4):802-812.
- Farrand K, Fridman M, Stillman I, et al. Prevalence of diagnosed dry eye disease in the United States among adults aged 18 years and older. Am. J Ophthalmol. 2017;182:90-98.
- Schaumberg D, Uchino M, Christen W, et al. Patient reported differences in dry eye disease between men and women: Impact, management, and patient satisfaction. PLOS One. 2013;8(9):1-11.
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