NEW YORK—The face of dry eye is changing. A recent study titled the “National Eye CARE (Current Attitudes Related to Eye Health) Survey,” conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Shire, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company whose therapeutic areas include dry eye disease (DED), surveyed 1,015 optometrists and ophthalmologists and 1,210 U.S. adults with dry eye symptoms. The results—scheduled to be announced at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting in Chicago on October 17—were real eye-openers.

According to the survey, although most ECPs believe women ages 50 and older are the most at-risk candidates to be screened for DED, 87 percent say there is no one typical DED patient, and 75 percent believe it’s necessary to screen patients of all ages. A major reason for this is digital devices: The study found that 89 percent of ECPs believe DED is becoming more common as a result of today’s multi-screen lifestyle, and further, 79 percent reported an increase in patients with dry eye symptoms between the ages of 18 to 34, with the typical age of symptom onset being just 31 among all adults with dry eye symptoms, and 27 among diagnosed patients.

Perhaps more striking is the survey’s findings highlighting a lack of communication between doctors and patients about dry eye symptoms. According to the survey, among non-ECP respondents:

57 percent wish they had spoken to an ECP sooner about their symptoms.
45 percent said they did not feel it was worth it to mention dry eye to their doctors, because their ECP did not ask them about it.
69 percent believe dry eye symptoms are “just something they have to live with.”

What’s more, adults with reported dry eye symptoms waited an average of two years between symptom onset and seeking the advice of a health care professional. Among ECPs, 74 percent wish their patients had asked about dry eye symptoms sooner.