Brits have 'No Eyedea' about common eye condition despite suffering with many symptoms
36% unaware of symptoms of Dry Eye Disease whilst almost a third (32%) of sufferers just wait to see if the symptoms go away by themselves.
Only 12% understand the importance of using a preservative-free product for treating the condition.
One in four people are thought to suffer with Dry Eye Disease in the UK - if left untreated more severe cases can lead to conjunctivitis, ulceration and vision loss.
A new survey by eyecare experts Théa, has revealed how few people are aware of Dry Eye Disease, a debilitating and painful eye condition which affects one in four people in the UK. The No EyeDea survey which was conducted amongst over 2,000 members of the British public by YouGov, found that 36% didn’t know what any symptoms of Dry Eye Disease were. Yet many people had experienced these symptoms; more than two in five (43%) had painful, sore or burning sensations in their eyes, while almost half (48%) had felt they had something in their eye. 34% felt that their eyes were watery and one in five had experienced red eyes (21%). Despite the obvious discomfort of Dry Eye Disease, almost a third (32%) just waited to see if the symptoms would go away by themselves.
The survey revealed very low levels of awareness around who is most at risk of Dry Eye Disease with 92% not knowing that women are more likely to suffer with the condition than men, and 84% that the menopause can cause Dry Eye Disease. Lack of awareness around eye health is not uncommon, nearly half (48%) of people answering the survey thought you should get your eyes tested every three years. However, the NHS recommends every two years or even less if you are older or suffering problems with your eyes.
One in four people are thought to suffer with Dry Eye Disease in the UK. Symptoms include eyes that are itchy, sore, gritty, red, blurry, sensitive to light and more watery than normal. You are more likely to suffer from Dry Eye Disease if you're over the age of 50, wear contact lenses, look at computer screens for a long time without a break, spend time in air conditioned or heated environments, smoke or drink alcohol or take certain medicines (for example, some antidepressants or blood pressure drugs). Dry Eye Disease should not be ignored. If left untreated, more severe cases can lead to conjunctivitis, ulceration and vision loss. It can also have a significant impact on sufferers’ quality of life. The survey also revealed the extent of this impact with those who have experienced Dry Eye Disease (n=310) stating it impacted their ability to wear contact lenses (24%), their sleep pattern (18%) and even their overall mood (14%).
“As we get older our tears are often not able to lubricate our eyes as effectively as when we were younger,” explains Sarah Farrant, Optometrist and Dry Eye expert. “The eye surface is dry, so it can trigger reflex watery tears, making the eyes water, but the problem is that the tears don’t contain the right lubricants. Dry Eye has a knock-on effect on people’s wellbeing, as it can really get in the way of everyday life. When left untreated, the discomfort can have a huge impact on sufferers mental health and wellbeing. My best advice would be to not suffer in silence and talk to your local optometrist or pharmacist about Dry Eye, as there are lots of options that can help you manage it.”
There’s also a lack of awareness of what to look for when treating the disease, with only 12% of the public understanding the importance of using a preservative-free product for the condition. A lack of awareness of this was seen even in those diagnosed – with 45% not knowing about preservatives. Widescale studies have shown that preserved eyedrops may lead to an alteration of the ocular surface, resulting in symptoms such as stinging or burning, grittiness and foreign body sensation, as well as Dry Eye.
“I had never heard of Dry Eye before and when I told my friends they thought it was a joke,” says Ellie, who lives with Dry Eye Disease. “Because I wear glasses, I regularly visit my Optometrist and luckily when I spoke to them about my symptoms, Dry Eye was quickly diagnosed. My advice for anyone who thinks they might be suffering is to go and get it checked out and see if you can find a product that suits you. Dry Eye Disease can be managed once you find the right fit.”
Sore eyelids? Watery eyes? Blurred vision? Red eyes? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be Dry Eye Disease. Dry Eye Disease is becoming a significant public health problem, particularly in developed countries due to increased screen use. To find out more about the symptoms, visit www.youreyehealth.co.uk/symptom-checker.