A study conducted by researchers of L V Prasad Eye institute concluded that nearly half of India’s population will be affected by dry eye disease by 2030.
This roughly translates to 275 million people. Rural India is likely to see 17 million new patients of dry eye disease annually
Chronic dry eyes are going to be a major issue for potentially billions of people around the world and with restasis costs being relatively expensive, it might be hard for people to find cheap treatment.
The study was carried by Dr Sayan Basu and Dr Anthony Vipin Das who analysed 1.45 million patients and discovered novel insights such as age and gender-related risk for dry eye disease.
Men were considered to be at higher risk in their twenties or thirties, while women were more vulnerable in their forties and fifties. Other high-risk factors that were identified included urban residence, socio-economic affluence and professional work (including computer-based vocations).
Dr Sayan Basu, Director of the Center for Ocular Regeneration added, “Dry eye disease not only affects the patient’s vision but also disturbs their quality of life, causing anxiety and even depression, often affecting their professional productivity.
However, if detected early and treated appropriately, patients with dry eyes can lead a normal and symptom-free life.”
Sometimes dry eyes can be associated with serious medical conditions like arthritis, which if neglected can even lead to irreversible visual impairment or even blindness. Therefore, it is critical that the people-at-risk particularly the urban corporate workforce gets screened for this condition and seeks timely relief.
Several citizens Pune365 spoke with confessed to suffering constant watering of the eyes, itching and other symptoms associated with dryness. Interestingly, more than 70% of them were unaware of Dry Eye Disease.
Speaking to Dr Savita Bhat, Senior City Opthamalogist says, Dry eye disease is a spectrum of diseases related to the ocular surface. It is always covered with a tear film. On top of this layer of the tear film is a thin layer of oil which maintains the tear film stability. Each time we blink we form a new layer of tear film.
Tears are secreted mainly by the lacrimal gland and by other smaller accessory glands. Mucin or oil layer by tiny goblet cells on the conjunctiva. Any disturbance to the tear secretion, conjunctival disease or disturbance to the secretion, surface, or lid disease can lead to dry eye.
Dr Bhat adds, “Decreased blink rate while glaring at various electronic gadgets inadvertently leads to evaporation and in turn a dry eye.
Most of the computer users are therefore advised to increase blink rate to stabilise the tear film and prevent dry eye. This is a bane of advanced technology.
External environmental factors- pollution, weather can add to the dry eye disease. Dry eyes can be due to patient individual factors – lid disease, surface irregularities, reduced blink rate, Environmental factors pollution weather
Speaking about the Symptoms Dr Bhat shares depends on the severity of the disease. It can range from occasional itching in mild cases to continuous grittiness irritation pricking. burning sensation to Red eye in moderate cases.
As the severity scale increases, the symptoms may increase with a continuous grittiness to abrasion of the top surface.
Some are unable to tolerate light and experience what one terms as photophobia- fear of light.
If the cause is identified and treated appropriately, dry eye can be controlled. One form of severe dry eye os primary sjogrens ‘ where no tear film is present. Some patients have dry eye throughout the year with episodes of exacerbation during seasons. Some others have it only during a change of seasons.
Dry eyes can be soothed but unless mild not completely cured. It is akin to the dry skin surface and not a serious ailment. However, it is more of a nuisance in its severe form as the person who suffers has to interrupt his work schedule and instil drops every now and then
As the disease is not too serious but more of a nuisance, not many preventive measures are available, however these measures can provide relief-
- Take frequent breaks from your continuous gadget use
- Blink more, especially while using electronic devices
- Use eye protection and helmet while driving two-wheelers.
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