Purpose: This study was designed to assess public awareness and symptoms of dry eye in Japan by a population-based, self-diagnosis study.
Methods: Two thousand five hundred participants chosen randomly from the general population were sent a questionnaire consisting of 30 questions pertaining to symptoms and knowledge of dry eye.
Results: Awareness of the condition called "dry eye" was very high at 73%. Most of the knowledge of dry eye was obtained through the media (e.g., television, 58.8%; newspapers/magazines, 46.6%), and only a fraction of the knowledge was from physicians (6.8%). As many as 33% of participants responded that they believed they had dry eye according to the self-diagnosis criteria, of which 25% used over-the-counter eyedrops daily. The majority of eyedrop users were dissatisfied with their therapeutic effects, and only 11% sought professional help. Habits in lifestyles that were associated with self-diagnosed dry eye were contact lens use (p < 0.001), a history of allergic conjunctivitis (p = 0.002), and video display terminal tasks (p = 0.058).
Conclusion: Although public awareness of dry eye in Japan was high, only a minority of the population seems to consult professionals for diagnosis and symptomatic relief.