Dry Eye Symptoms More Common in Young People Than Previously Suspected

Are your eyes sensitive to light? Gritty or burning feeling?  Does eye discomfort limit your performance while reading, working on a computer, or driving at night?

If you answered “yes”, you may be suffering from dry eyes, a condition classically associated with advancing age.  However, a recent study published in  JAMA Ophthalmology (2020; 138:58) suggests that dry eye symptoms may be much more common in young people than previously suspected.

The study found that over 70% of individuals under 50 years of age suffer intermittently from symptoms of dry eyes.  Researchers from New Zealand and Japan used a creative study design, combining the questionnaire scores of the well-established Ocular Surface Disease Index with results from a free mobile app, DryEyeRhythm (available on Apple app store), as well as a mood measurement (Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale).

Of 4,454 participants, 73% reportedly had significant dry eye symptoms.  The high proportion of young persons with positive results may in part be due to increased screen time; blink rates are known to be lower when using screen technology, which might account in part for this unexpected result.

 

Benjamin H. Ticho, MD