Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of dry eye and to investigate its relationship with lifestyle and systemic factors in a general adult population in north-western Spain.
Methods: A dry eye questionnaire was administered and objective tests were performed in 654 individuals [mean age (Standard deviation): 63.6 (14.4) years, range: 40-96, 37.2% males]. Subjects were considered symptomatic when one or more of the symptoms of the questionnaire were present often or all the time. Schirmer test <or= 5 mm, tear film breakup time <or= 10 s, rose bengal staining >or= 3 and fluorescein staining >or= 1 were considered indicative of signs. Dry eye was defined as the simultaneous presence of symptoms and at least one sign. A design based analysis was performed and all calculations were weighted to give unbiased estimates.
Results: Dry eye prevalence was 11.0% (95%confidence interval [CI] 8.6-13.3). Dry eye was found to be more frequent in women (11.9%, 95%CI 8.8-15.1) than in men (9.0%, 95%CI 5.3-12.6), and was significantly associated with aging (p < 0.001). After controlling for age and sex, acne rosacea was the only factor associated with the disease. There were no habits or systemic factors associated with symptoms. However, autoimmune diseases, acne rosacea, and computer use were found to be independently and significantly associated with signs.
Conclusions: Dry eye is a common disease in this adult European population and is more frequent in older subjects. Acne rosacea is the only factor associated with dry eye. Other factors are associated with signs but not with symptoms.