Dry Eye Syndrome May Cut Life Quality
Study Notes Vision Problems With Reading, Working, Driving
WebMD News Archive
March 13, 2007 -- Dry eye syndrome may make vision significantly harder
while reading, driving, working, watching TV, or using computers, a new study
Dry eye syndrome is marked by a deficiency in the quantity or quality of
tears and may also include eye irritation, dryness, fatigue, and visual disturbances. Dry eye syndrome is
common but it's usually not a major health threat, note the researchers.
They included Debra Schaumberg, ScD, OD, MPH, of the division of preventive
medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in
Schaumberg and colleagues studied 450 women and 240 men, a third of whom had
symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
The female participants were at least 49 years old and were enrolled in the
Women's Health Study, a long-term health study of female health care
professionals in the U.S.
The male participants were at least 55 years old and were enrolled in the
Physicians' Health Study, a long-term health study of male doctors in the
In surveys, participants rated the extent to which eye problems limited
routine activities including reading, working, watching TV, using computers,
driving during daytime, and driving at night.
Those with dry eye syndrome were the most likely to report that eye problems
hampered their ability to perform those activities. The results held after the
researchers considered other factors, such as participants' age, diabetes, and high blood
pressure, which can all contribute to eye problems.
Participants with dry eye syndrome who used artificial tears were about half
as likely to report vision problems with everyday activities as those with dry
eye syndrome who didn't use artificial tears.
The study appears in the American Journal of Ophthalmology and was
partly funded by a grant from Pfizer Consumer Health Care, which makes products
including eyedrops and artificial tears. Pfizer is a WebMD sponsor.
In the journal, Schaumberg and another researcher note receiving research
funds, consulting for, or serving on the scientific advisory boards of various
drug companies and eye care companies.