Dry Eye Symptoms More Common in Young People Than Previously Suspected

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Are your eyes sensitive to light? Gritty or burning feeling? Does eye discomfort limit your performance while reading, working on a computer, or driving at night?

If you answered “yes”, you may be suffering from dry eyes, a condition classically associated with advancing age. However, a recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology (2020; 138:58) suggests that dry eye symptoms may be much more common in young people than previously suspected.

The study found that over 70% of individuals under 50 years of age suffer intermittently from symptoms of dry eyes. Researchers from New Zealand and Japan used a creative study design, combining the questionnaire scores of the well-established Ocular Surface Disease Index with results from a free mobile app: DryEyeRhythm (available on Apple app store), as well as a mood measurement (Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale).

Of 4,454 participants, 73% reportedly had significant dry eye symptoms. The high proportion of young persons with positive results may in part be due to increased screen time; blink rates are known to be lower when using screen technology, which might account in part for this unexpected result.

Benjamin H. Ticho, MD

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