Four percent of older U.S. men have dry eye disease

June 9, 2009

Dry eye disease is common among American men aged more than 50 years and its prevalence increases with age, high blood pressure, benign prostrate disease, and the use of antidepressants, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Boston-Dry eye disease is common among American men aged more than 50 years and its prevalence increases with age, high blood pressure, benign prostrate disease, and the use of antidepressants, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

"[Dry eye] is an important public health problem, causing increased risk of ocular infections and bothersome symptoms of ocular discomfort, fatigue and visual disturbance that interfere with crucial activities such as reading, working on a computer, and driving a car," the authors wrote.

Men who participated in the Physicians’ Health Study I and II were asked whether dry eye disease ever had been diagnosed and whether they had symptoms, including dry or irritated eyes.

Overall, 3% of men reported a dry eye diagnosis, 6.8% experienced at least one symptom (dryness or irritation) constantly or often, and 2.2% reported both symptoms constantly or often. The total age-standardized prevalence of dry eye disease among men aged 50 or more years was estimated to be 4.3%. Men aged 75 or more years were more likely to have the condition-prevalence increased from 3.9% among men aged 50 to 54 years to 7.7% among men aged 80 or more years.

"The present study estimates that approximately 1.68 million men 50 years and older are affected with dry eye disease in the United States," the authors wrote. "These data, derived from studying more than 25,000 men, show a significantly lower prevalence of dry eye disease than was found in a similar study using the same methods in U.S. women, among whom the prevalence was estimated at 3.23 million women. Nonetheless, there is a significant increase in the prevalence of dry eye disease with age among men, as is the case among women, and there is a predicted growth to 2.79 million U.S. men affected by dry eye disease in 2030.

"Given the increasing recognition of the adverse visual impact of dry eye disease, and the high level of bother patients report because of its irritative symptoms, we hope that these data from a large and well-characterized group of U.S. men will provide further motivation for clinicians and researchers to understand this disease and develop more effective and targeted interventions for patients," they concluded.

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