Why is my vision fluctuating? Dry eye could be the answer.

Blood capillary human eye

Is your vision affected by dry eyes? Dry eye disease (DED) is one of the most frequently encountered ocular conditions. In fact, 25% percent of patients who visit eye care practitioners report symptoms of dry eye, making it one of the most common conditions.1 The prevalence of DED is estimated to be 7.4% to 33.7% depending on which study is cited, how the disease is diagnosed, and which population is surveyed.2, 3

Recently the Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS) II report was released by the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS), highlighting the importance of dry eye diagnosis and management.

There are many symptoms associated with dry eye including dryness, itching, burning, foreign body sensation, watery eyes and visual fluctuation. Dry eye may impact daily activities such as reading, night driving, watching TV, working on the computer and contact lens wear.4-6 If you have any of these symptoms or your contact lenses are not comfortable all day long, you may have dry eye. Many people with dry eye have not been diagnosed. Thirty million American adults report symptoms of DED7-8 and about 16 million American adults have been diagnosed with this condition.9

Dry eye symptoms are variable and quite common.

The healthy tear film is a delicate balance composed of mucin, proteins, aqueous and lipid components. In chronic dry eye, the concentrations of certain tear proteins are reduced. Patients with an altered tear film due to dry eye can result in symptoms of discomfort, ocular surface damage and visual disturbances, potentially impacting a range of daily activities.

A prospective multicenter study of 217 dry eye patients titled Progression of Ocular Findings (PROOF), evaluated the natural history of dry eye over 5 years.10 In this study, 57% of dry eye patients considered their vision to be moderate, severe or very severe compared to 10.5% for control subjects.

If you think your eyes may be dry or have any symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor of optometry today.

Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO


  1. O’Brien PD, Collum LM. Dry eye: diagnosis and current treatment strategies. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2004; 4:314–319.
  2. Lin PY, Tsai SY, Cheng CY, et al. Prevalence of dry eye among an elderly Chinese population in Taiwan: The Shihpai eye study. Ophthalmology. 2003;110:1096–1101.
  3. McCarty CA, Bansal AK, Livingston PM, et al. The epidemiology of dry eye in Melbourne, Australia. Ophthalmology. 1998;105:1114–1119.
  4. Dry Eye WorkShop. The definition and classification of dry eye disease: report of the Definition and Classification Subcommittee of the International Dry Eye WorkShop (2007). Ocul Surf. 2007;5(2):75-92.
  5. Walker PM, Lane KJ, Ousler GW III, Abelson MB. Diurnal variation of visual function and the signs and symptoms of dry eye. Cornea. 2010;29(6):607-612.
  6. Miljanović B, Dana R, Sullivan DA, Schaumberg DA. Impact of dry eye syndrome on vision-related quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol. 2007;143(3):409-415.
  7. Paulsen AJ, Cruickshanks KJ, Fischer ME, et al. Dry eye in the beaver dam offspring study: prevalence, risk factors, and health-related quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol. 2014;157(4):799-806.
  8. US Census Bureau. Annual estimates of the resident population for selected age groups by sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014. http://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/census/popestimate/2014-state-characteristics/
    PEP_2014_PEPAGESEX_HI.pdf. Published June 24, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2017.
  9. Data on file. SHP606-801. Shire US Inc; 2016.
  10. McDonnell P, et al. Progression of Ocular Findings (PROOF) Study of the Natural History of Dry Eye: Study Design and Baseline Pa9ent Characteris9cs. ARVO meeting Abstracts June 16, 2013 54:4338.

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