Validation of the 5-Item Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ-5): Discrimination across self-assessed severity and aqueous tear deficient dry eye diagnoses

Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2010 Apr;33(2):55-60. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2009.12.010. Epub 2010 Jan 25.


Purpose: To validate a subset of Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ) items that discriminate across self-assessed severity and various diagnoses of dry eye (DE).

Methods: Subjects (n=260) in 2 studies received a clinical DE diagnosis, completed the 6-page DEQ and self-assessment of DE severity (SA-Sev). SA-Sev ratings were: 46 Severe, 107 Moderate, 77 Mild, and 46 None. Dry eye diagnoses were: 48 asymptomatic controls (C), 155 non-SS KCS, and 57 Sjögren Syndrome (SS). All DEQ items were correlated to SA-Sev by Spearman. Groups of highly correlated DEQ items were tested to discriminate SA-Sev; and the subset tested to distinguish across DE diagnosis.

Results: The DEQ-5 comprises: frequency of watery eyes (r=0.48), discomfort (r=0.41), and dryness (r=0.35), and late day (PM) intensity of discomfort and dryness (r=0.42, 0.36) all significantly correlated to SA-Sev (p<0.01). Mean DEQ-5 scores by SA-Sev: Severe 14.9+/-2.3, Moderate 11.4+/-3.3, Mild 8.6+/-3.1 and None 2.7+/-3.2 (ANOVA, p<0.0001) and by DE diagnosis: C 2.7+/-2.9, non-SS KCS10.5+/-4.5 and SS14.0+/-3.4, differing significantly overall (Z=-8.6, p=0.000) and between diagnoses (X(2)=116.3, p=0.000). Watery eyes were reported primarily by non-SS KCS. Proposed screening criteria for the DEQ-5 are >6 for DE and >12 for suspected SS.

Conclusions: The DEQ-5, the sum of scores for frequency and PM intensity of dryness and discomfort plus frequency of watery eyes, effectively discriminated across self-assessed severity ratings and between patients with DE diagnoses. These results indicate that DEQ-5 scores >6 suggest DE and scores >12 may indicate further testing to rule out SS-DE.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States / epidemiology