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Research

Environment's impact on dry eye confirmed

07/09/2018
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Environmental factors such as high wind speed, high pollen count, low humidity and high pollution worsen dry eye signs and symptoms, cording to analysis of a data subset from the Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) study.

The results were presented during this year’s Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in Honolulu by lead researcher Dr Joanne Shen, who said the findings were consistent with other retrospective studies that had found correlation between environmental factors and dry eye symptoms and signs.

“The DREAM study allowed us to prospectively study a large geographically diverse dry eye population and examine the correlation of severity between weather and pollution factors, and dry eye symptoms and signs,” Shen told online publication Primary Care Optometry News.



"The DREAM study allowed us to prospectively study a large geographically diverse dry eye population and examine the correlation of severity between weather and pollution factors, and dry eye symptoms and signs."
Joanne Shen, Lead Researcher

The study tracked 535 adults with moderate to severe dry eye, who completed the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index (BODI), conjunctival lissamine green staining, corneal fluorescein staining, tear film break-up time (TBUT) and a five-minute Schirmer’s test with anesthesia, in addition to clinical evaluations

Same-day environmental data such as average temperature, humidity, wind speed, dew point, ozone, toxic and poisonous gas, pollen, and air pollution were also collected by researchers. Of the dry eye symptoms, the OSDI subscale of environmental triggers were inversely correlated with humidity and total pollen count, while BODI was correlated with total pollen count.

Meanwhile, for dry eye signs, corneal fluorescein dye staining inversely correlated with humidity, and TBUT positively correlated with both humidity and dew point, but inversely correlated with aerosol optical depth (an air pollution equivalent).

Lissamine green and Schirmer’s tests had no statistical correlation to weather, pollution and pollen, but TBUT and, to a lesser degree, corneal staining were associated with environmental factors, the researchers noted.

“TBUT was highly correlated to dew point and humidity, confirming what we clinicians have always suspected: Move to a humid climate if you have dry eyes,” Shen said.

“Given these findings, it is important to consider employing strategies designed to control environmental triggers for dry eye patients.

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“Due to seasonality, these correlations should be taken into consideration when designing dry eye studies less than one year in duration.”

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