Prevent Blindness: July is Dry Eye Awareness Month

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The organization hopes to increase awareness and education of a condition that affects vision, mental health.

Dry eye disease (DED) continues to be a difficult problem for patients whose eyes do not provide adequate lubrication. The discomfort that results from dry eyes may affect vision, and if left untreated, the National Eye Institute (NEI), noted that it can damage the cornea.

Prevent Blindness has declared July as “Dry Eye Awareness Month” to provide free resources to providers and the public on dry eye, including fact sheets and shareable social media graphics in both English and Spanish, and a dedicated webpage.

Additionally, as part of the Focus on Eye Health Expert Series, Stephanie Marioneaux, MD, cornea and external disease specialist, and Prevent Blindness board of directors member, provides detailed information in the recent “Dry Eye” episode.

Mental health may also be affected by dry eye. A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms and overall signs, suggesting that among patients with moderate to severe DED, those with depression may be likely to have more severe DED. According to the study conclusion, the findings support consideration of depression as a comorbidity when managing patients with DED.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Burning or stinging
  • Particles in the eye
  • Gritty, sandy feeling
  • Itchiness
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Stringy mucus
  • Extreme sensitivity, especially to cigarette smoke
  • Transient blurry vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light

Having these symptoms may mean that you have dry eye, but they may also be caused by other conditions. A thorough evaluation by an eye doctor is needed to determine the exact cause of these vision symptoms.

“Dry eye can have lasting, damaging effects if left untreated,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “An exam by an eyecare professional can equip patients with a treatment plan that protects vision and improves mental health.”

For more information on dry eye, please visit the Prevent Blindness resource page at preventblindness.org/understanding-dry-eye.