Dry Eye Disease
In the U.S., Dry Eye Disease is a major public health problem. Research suggests that 7% of the U.S. population has Dry Eye Disease - 20.7 million people, mostly women. In addition to affecting ocular health, the discomfort and irritation of dry eyes can cause deterioration of general well-being (Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 March: 143(3): 409 - 415). Studies have demonstrated that people with Dry Eye Disease are three times more likely than those without dry eyes to have difficulty with reading, computer work, watching television, and driving. Our health care resources are impacted by direct costs of dry eyes, such as frequent physician visits, diagnostic tests, and charges for medication and surgery. In addition, there are immeasurable indirect costs related to decreased productivity, efficiency and lost work time.
LASIK and Refractive Surgery
Dry Eye after LASIK occurs in 45% - 75% of patients. While the condition is usually temporary and mild, significant numbers of people continue to have dry eyes for months or even years after a procedure. In certain cases, LASIK and other refractive surgery procedures can cause dry eyes after they penetrate the eye's surface and reduce corneal nerve sensitivity. When your eye then fails to sense the need for lubrication, inadequate tear production results.
Dry eyes after LASIK can cause both discomfort and less than optimal visual outcomes. For this reason, many eye surgeons now recommend that you use lubricating eye drops or plugs both BEFORE and AFTER LASIK to help maintain eye moisture.
Lacrimedics' VisiPlug for medium-term occlusion lasting approximately 180 days is the optimal choice for maintaining eye moisture both before and after LASIK.
Women and Dry Eye
Women are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from Dry Eye Disease than men - probably an effect of hormones (www.womenseyehealth.org). 52% of American women say they deal with Dry Eye symptoms on a regular basis.
Why are women so much more susceptible to dry eye? Research is showing that androgens (male hormones) are good for lacrimal and Meibomian gland structure and function. Men have a greater supply of these hormones throughout life, although the levels decrease in both sexes as people get older. Menopause itself, or lack of estrogen, does appear to be a factor in the greater prevalence of dry eye in older women. In fact, recent research shows that hormone-replacement therapy makes dry eye worse, not better and that taking estrogen increases the risk of having the condition by 70 percent.
Dry Eye and Aging
The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptom of Dry Eyes (American Optometric Association). Dry Eye Disease is a part of the natural aging process. Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions, or as a side effect of certain medicines. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.