Campaign ranks 100 cities most likely to aggravate dry eye

August 15, 2006

The campaign is designed to reach out to women in particular, because they make up the greatest segment of those affected by dry eye syndrome.

With all the winning and losing that goes on day and night in Las Vegas, it's hard to think there would be a dry eye to be found. And yet, the city tops the list of 100 American cities in which environmental conditions combine to aggravate dry eye syndrome.

The rankings, prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climatic Data Center, include such factors as temperature, humidity, wind, altitude, pollutants, and ocular allergens.

The list shows some results that surprised Cahill and others with the campaign. For example, Honolulu ranked #10, ahead of Tucson, AZ (#13) and Tulsa, OK (#31). Perhaps dry eye sufferers with a penchant for gambling would fare better in Reno, NV (#65).

The city on the list with the fewest contributing factors for dry eye is Columbus, GA (#100).

"The results were definitely of interest to us, because they were all across the board," Cahill said.

Targeting women

The campaign is designed to reach out to women in particular, Cahill said, because they make up the greatest segment of those affected. Some 3.2 million women in the United States-1 in 12 over age 50-have dry eye. Mid-life hormone fluctuations and autoimmune diseases-which afflict women more often than men-are associated with dry eye, she said.

In addition to the city rankings, the campaign includes a quiz and information kit on the organization's Web site, http://www.healthywomen.org/. The Red Bank, NJ-based organization also will distribute information at select summer concerts, she said.

Even though his city ranks #32 on the list of dry eye "hot spots," cornea specialist William Trattler, MD, who is affiliated with the Center for Excellence in Eyecare in Miami, said many of his patients have dry eye syndrome. He said he refers to the list when discussing patients' travel plans and recommends that those traveling to cities that rank high on the list bring plenty of artificial tears.

"The lipid-containing (artificial) tears along with the liquid-gel tears-Refresh liquigel, for example-help maintain the tear film a little longer," Dr. Trattler said.

He said dry eye syndrome is so common around the country, some doctors might think their case levels are similar to those in other areas. But, he said, the list might help ophthalmologists in "hot spot" cities to realize dry eye is more common in their area.

"This list of dry eye hot spots has made me more aware of this condition and the need to ask patients about it," Dr. Trattler said. "They (patients) might not bring it up in exam. If a doctor focuses only on cataract, he or she may forget to look for dry eye."

Dr. Trattler recommends prescription drops for patients who use artificial tears twice or more a day. He said the campaign could help remind physicians to inquire about dry eye.

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