The vision-related burden of dry eye

Ocul Surf. 2021 Oct 28;S1542-0124(21)00124-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2021.10.007. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To investigate the relationship between dry eye disease (DED) and vision-related quality of life (VR-QoL) at population level.

Methods: DED and VR-QoL were assessed in 89,022 participants (18-96 years, 59% female) from the Dutch population-based Lifelines cohort using the Women's Health study (WHS) and Visual function 25 (VFQ25) questionnaires. The relationship between DED and compromised VR-QoL was assessed with logistic regression, corrected for age, sex, BMI, income, education, smoking, and 55 comorbidities.

Results: 9.1% of participants had DED. The participants with DED had higher risk of compromised average of ten domains of VR-QoL (OR 3.12 (95% CI 2.98-3.27) corrected for age, sex, BMI, income, smoking, and 55 comorbidities). Increasing symptom frequency was highly associated with decreasing VR-QoL (P < 0.0005). In all VR-QoL domains, including measures of daily visual function and emotional well-being, DED was clearly associated with compromised VR-QoL. Compared to macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and allergic conjunctivitis, DED presented similar or higher risks for compromised score on all VR-QoL domains. The population-attributable fraction of DED for compromised general vision exceeded that of other eye diseases investigated, especially in the younger age groups.

Conclusion: DED is associated with reductions in all domains of VR-QoL, also after correction for associated comorbidities. We found that DED imposes an extensive population burden regarding compromised VR-QoL due to its high prevalence and substantial impact on VR-QoL, higher than that for other common vision-affecting eye disorders. Our results emphasize the importance of recognizing DED as a serious disorder from both patient and public health perspectives.

Keywords: Driving; Dry eye disease; Population attributable fraction; Vision-related quality of life (VR-QoL); Visual function.