Dry eye treatment
Increased screen time increases the risk of dry eyes (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Looking for dry eye statistics? In this article, you’ll learn more about current statistics and risk factors.

Dry Eye Statistics- At a Glance:

  • Currently between 16 million and 49 million Americans have dry eyes. This is between 5-15% of the population. [1]
  • Google trends for the topic “dry eye syndrome” have doubled between December 2010 and July 2020 [2]
  • A 2012 Gallup Poll suggested that 29 million Americans will suffer from the disease by 2022 [3]
  • 2004 data suggested that 4.88 million Americans over the age of 50 have dry eyes [4]
  • Global dry eye treatments are expected to top over USD$6.6billion by the end of 2027 [5]
Dry Eye Statistics
Dry Eye Statistics and Infographic

What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

One of the most common symptoms of dry eyes is blurred eyesight. For example, if you blink your eyes and things look clearer, you may have dry eyes.

Other common symptoms include:

  • A stinging, burning, scratching sensation in your eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Gritty/sandy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tired eyes or eye fatigue- your eyes feel more tired than what you feel otherwise
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Filmy vision

The eye’s normal tear film

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian Glands release oil with normal blinks

The normal tear film has three layers:

Oily layer (outermost layer)- contains a complex mix of lipids from the Meibomian Glands in the eyelids.

Watery layer (middle layer)- contains fluid from the lacrimal gland. This is the thickest layer.

Mucous layer (inner layer)- contains mucous from the conjunctival goblet cells. This layer helps to anchor the tears to the cornea.

Over 86% of people with dry eyes show signs of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction [6]

What are the risk factors for dry eyes?

According to global experts [7], the non-modifiable risk factors for dry eyes are:

  • Age
  • Female sex
  • Asian Race
  • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
  • Connective Tissue Diseases
  • Sjogrens Syndrome

The modifiable risk factors for dry eyes are:

  • Androgen deficiency
  • Computer use
  • Contact lens wear
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Environment: pollution, low humidity, sick building syndrome
  • Medications: antihistamines, antidepressants, anxiolytics, isotretinoin

Probable risk factors include low fatty acid intake, allergic conjunctivitis and refractive surgery.

How to treat dry eyes

One of the most important steps to treating dry eyes is to educate the person about dry eyes. This is best done at an eye examination. Patients often talk with their Optometrist or Ophthalmologist about some of the reasons they have dry eyes, the treatment options and the long term prognosis.

Dry eyes initially is treated by looking at a person’s lifestyle and work routines. This might mean reducing airflow, increasing humidity or tweaking the home or workplace.

Other changes such as identifying medication contributors and increasing supplements (e.g. omega-three) can help.

Eye drops and eyelid cleansers can also improve the comfort of dry eyes.

These are some of the initial steps that can improve dry eyes. Read more about further dry eye treatments here.

Dry eye is chronic and progressive

Dry eyes is a condition that can be controlled but does not go away. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage to the eyes.

Screen time is here to stay. The prevalence of dry eye disease is likely to continue to rise.

Future studies may see younger people develop dry eye at a high rate.

Looking for Dry Eye Relief?

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