The economic burden of dry eye: a conceptual framework and preliminary assessment

Cornea. 2004 Nov;23(8):751-61. doi: 10.1097/01.ico.0000134183.47687.75.


Purpose: To develop a conceptual framework for analyzing the economic burden of dry eye and a preliminary assessment of key factors that contribute to that burden.

Methods: The MEDLINE database was searched from 1966 to May 2003 combining the term "dry eye" with various economic terms. In addition, individual interviews with a panel of clinicians were conducted to provide additional insight on resource use.

Results: Direct resource utilization among dry eye sufferers includes healthcare professional visits, nonpharmacological therapies, pharmacological treatments, and surgical procedures, with the latter 2 categories being the major cost drivers. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are a newly recognized component of the dry eye economic burden. There is wide variation in patterns of diagnosis and treatment, but current therapies are not universally effective. Given the prevalence of the condition, indirect costs may be large. Utilization of pharmacological therapies, especially those other than tear replacements, the extent of CAM use, cost of complications of surgical procedures, and indirect costs are unknown. The natural history and probability that patients will transition between therapies, based on underlying disease severity, need to be elucidated.

Conclusions: Dry eye is a prevalent condition with the potential for a high economic burden; additional studies are needed to further characterize the economic impact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Costs
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / economics*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / therapy
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmic Solutions / economics
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Ophthalmology / economics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics


  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations