By American Academy of Ophthalmology, November 16, 2013
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Residents of
major cities with high levels of air pollution have an increased risk of
dry eye syndrome, according to a study presented at the world's largest
ophthalmic conference, the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology,
in New Orleans. Study subjects in and around Chicago and New York City
were found to be three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome
compared to less urban areas with relatively little air pollution. As a
result of this study, researchers suggest that environmental
manipulations should be considered as part of the overall control and
management of patients with dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome, a deficiency in tear production, is a prevalent
condition that effects up to four million people age 50 and older[I] in
the United States and whose manifestations negatively affect physical
and mental functioning. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be very
detrimental to patients and severely affect the quality of one's life,
as well as result in loss of productivity due to interruption of daily
activities like reading and using computer screens. While it has been
suggested that environmental factors impact dry eye syndrome, this is
the first study of a large patient population covering the entire
continental United States which linked dry eye syndrome treatment
location to atmospheric conditions – in particular, air pollution
coupled with weather conditions.
Using data from the National
Veterans Administrative (VA) database, the National Climatic Data Center
and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
researchers examined the health records of 606,708 U.S. veterans
who received dry eye syndrome treatment in one of 394 VA eye clinics
within the continental U.S. from July 2006 through July 2011. Those
living in areas with high levels of air pollution had the highest
magnitude of increased risk for dry eye syndrome, at an incidence rate
ratio of 1.4. Most metropolitan areas, including New York City, Chicago,
Los Angeles and Miami showed relatively high prevalence of dry eye
syndrome (17 to 21 percent) and high levels of air pollution.
the risk of dry eye syndrome was 13 percent higher in zip codes in high
altitude areas. Higher humidity and wind speed were inversely
associated with the risk of dry eye syndrome when controlled for air
pollution and other weather conditions. The research findings suggest
that primary care physicians and eye care professionals should be aware
of the association between environmental conditions and dry eye, and
elicit an environmental history when assessing patients with dry eye
"Undoubtedly, many people living in arid and polluted
cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has
on dry eye," said Anat Galor, M.D., MPSH, of Miami Veterans Affairs
Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Bascom
Palmer Eye Institute, and lead researcher. "Our research suggests that
simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity indoors and
using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the
overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome."
Dry eye symptoms
can range from stinging or burning to excessive tearing and discomfort
wearing contact lenses. As the eye responds to the irritation of this
condition, the eye will often tear excessively to try to combat the loss
of moisture. Many people with dry eye syndrome may find watching
television, reading and working for extended periods on a computer to be
very uncomfortable. For relief from dry eye syndrome, the American
Academy of Ophthalmology advises people to visit an ophthalmologist to
determine the best course of treatment.
Environmental Factors and Dry Eye Syndrome: A Study Utilizing the National U.S. Veterans Affairs Administrative Database (PO052) was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. More than 25,000
attendees and 500 companies from over 120 countries gather each year to
showcase the latest in ophthalmic education, research, clinical
developments, technology, products and services. To learn more about
the place Where All of Ophthalmology Meets, visit http://www.aao.org/2013.
Note to media: Contact Media Relations to request full text of the study and arrange interviews with experts
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco,
is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians.
It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and
training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and
perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org.
The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the
importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision.
EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information
about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the
Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
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