The Definition of Dry Eye

Eye Issues As We Age

In the world today, there are 1.7 billion people with presbyopia. Presbyopia is the normal condition over age 40 where there is a loss of flexibility of the eye’s natural lens.

The number of people with presbyopia will continue to grow to affect 2.1 billion people in the world by the year 2020. In the United States, presbyopia affects 111 million people today. These numbers continue to grow and will increase to 121 million people in the United States by the year 2020. Like presbyopia, dry eye is more common as we age as well as with other medical conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disease.

Courtesy of Scott Robinson on Flickr

Courtesy of Scott Robinson on Flickr

Dry eye is one of the most common reasons people visit their eye doctor and nearly 40% of people experience dry eye symptoms on a regular basis. Dry eye disease can considerably impact a person’s quality of life. Dry eye symptoms include dryness, pain, stinging, burning, itchy, sandy, gritty, foreign body sensation, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing or watering of the eyes and blurred or interrupted vision.

What is the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS)?

The Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS) studies dry eye disease, management and therapy. TFOS developed a new definition of dry eye.

Why Does the New Definition of Dry Eye Matter?

Because the signs and symptoms of dry eye do not correlate, it is important for your doctor to diagnose and treat dry eye early. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent severe debilitating dry eye that can cause loss of vision and an impaired quality of life.

Courtesy of Michael Gil on Flickr

Courtesy of Michael Gil on Flickr

The classification was divided into different subsets titled aqueous deficient and evaporative. Each subset was further divided. TFOS highlighted the disassociation between signs and symptoms of dry eye.

TFOS established the importance of dry eye diagnosis, epidemiology and the treatment and management of dry eye. Future research is also a goal of TFOS.

Currently, TFOS DEWS II is updating the definition, classification and diagnosis of dry eye disease and dry eye management and therapy. Once the report is completed, this information will be published.

Want to learn more?


~Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS
California Optometric Association

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