People with a delayed diagnosis were likely to have a more negative
view of the condition and experience troubles in their work life,
too, the researchers write in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Dry eye disease occurs when the tear ducts do not produce enough
moisture. The eyes may become dry, itchy, red, and swollen.
Better descriptions of dry eye disease symptoms are needed so that
patients can be diagnosed more easily, the researchers write.
Marc Labetoulle of Bicetre Hospital in Le Kremlin-Bicetre Cedex,
France and colleagues conducted an online survey of 706 patients
with dry eye disease from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
All patients were over 40, did not wear contact lenses, and had used
tear substitutes every day for the last six months.
Participants answered questions about their disease history and
diagnosis, the relief treatments they used, their view of their
condition, and its impact on their quality of life.
More than 40 percent were not diagnosed when their symptoms began.
Just over a quarter - 28 percent - were diagnosed within one year of
the start of their symptoms.
More than a third of patients visited more than one doctor before
getting a diagnosis of dry eye disease.
Nearly a third perceived dry eye disease as a “disease” or even a
“handicap,” while two thirds viewed the condition as just a
The most common issues patients had in their daily lives were the
need to wear sunglasses, the need to avoid air conditioning, and
trouble reading books.
Patients also reported having trouble using screens at work and in
free time and being awakened at night by their symptoms.
People who used relief treatments three or more times a day were
more likely than other patients to report that dry eye disease
impacted their quality of life.
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Dry eye disease patients who were diagnosed later were more likely
to report daily discomfort and pain. Later diagnosis was also linked
to a greater impact on patients’ overall quality life and work life
Dry eye disease can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms
can vary and often overlap with other eye disorders, said Dr.
Masakazu Yamada, a professor of ophthalmology at the Kyorin
University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan who was not involved
in the study.
Dry eye disease “is a disorder that you are not cured of
completely,’ Yamada said by email. “Therefore, early diagnosis and
management are important.”
“The first step (in) diagnosis is the awareness of symptoms,” Yamada
said, adding that doctors need to understand these symptoms better
as well to avoid delayed diagnosis.
The authors did not respond to a request for comment.
SOURCE: bit.ly/2jhSAWS British Journal of Ophthalmology, online
December 21, 2016.
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