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Millions of Americans Experience Dry Eye Symptoms, Yet New National Survey Shows Sufferers Struggle to Find Relief

Bausch + Lomb Corporation released results from the company’s inaugural State of Dry Eye survey, which explores dry eye understanding and experiences among American adults. Dry eye is increasingly common and can range from occasional symptoms of dryness to a chronic condition called dry eye disease. Although there is no cure for dry eye, various options can help people find relief.

The survey revealed that the majority of respondents may not know that their symptoms–which can include redness, fluctuating vision, a scratchy, gritty, tired or heavy feeling or overall eye irritation–may be associated with eye dryness. Additionally, most respondents don’t realize that symptoms of dry eye are increasingly present in younger people, and two-in-five are unaware that untreated dry eye can lead to other eye problems, such as fluctuating vision.

screen grab from the know your dry eye website and show dry eye symptoms such as irritation, tired eyes, redness and gritty feeling
Learn more at knowyourdryeye.com. (Screen image of main page)

Here are key findings from the 2024 State of Dry Eye Survey

  • Dry eye impacts quality of life.
    • Three-in-four dry eye sufferers find it extremely or very bothersome, with three-in-10 saying that their symptoms have worsened over time.
    • Eight-in-10 dry eye sufferers (81%) are constantly aware of how their eyes feel.
    • Close to half of sufferers (46%) report that sometimes their symptoms are so bad they can practically “hear themselves blink.”
  • Dry eye makes it difficult to enjoy day-to-day activities.
    • Most dry eye sufferers (67%) had to give up or cut back on something to relieve symptoms, including screen time (32%), spending time outdoors (25%) and wearing makeup (24%)
    • Dry eye sufferers report their symptoms have the biggest impact on reading (45%), device use (35%) and driving (31%).
  • There’s a low level of awareness.
    • Most (70%) don’t know much about preventing or treating dry eye.
    • While respondents reported regularly experiencing symptoms that may be related to dry eye, such as tired eyes [38%], sensitivity to light [27%] and redness [19%]), only 15% reported regularly experiencing eye dryness, suggesting people may not recognize their symptoms could be associated with dry eye.
    • Forty-three percent don’t routinely (i.e., at least once a year) see an eye doctor, even though eye care professionals serve as the primary way to get evaluated.
    • Most respondents (66%) don’t know that symptoms of dry eyes are increasingly present in younger people. Today’s modern lifestyles, including increased screen time, contribute.
    • Over half of sufferers (52%) think dry eyes are difficult to address and something people must learn to live with.
  • Dry eye can get worse.
    • Forty-four percent of respondents don’t know that untreated dry eye can lead to other eye problems and even vision loss.

“Most people think of dry eye as a minor nuisance, but the truth is it can drastically affect one’s daily life,” said Rebecca Petris, co-founder and president, Dry Eye Foundation. “Early symptoms are often misunderstood, downplayed, ignored or self-treated. People need to know their symptoms warrant a visit to the eye doctor, so they can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. For people with dry eye, the good news is treatment and symptom management options are available. People are finding relief.”

Researchers conducted the survey with 2,003 U.S. adults 18 years or older. Respondents included 461 “sufferers” and 1,542 non-sufferers. Sufferers often/always experience eye dryness and/or have been diagnosed by a health care professional with dry eye disease.

There are a broad range of options for those with dry eye. Patients can access over-the-counter eye drops and nutritional supplements and prescription medications. Those experiencing symptoms should see an eye doctor to discuss what may be best for them. Learn more at KnowYourDryEye.com.

Read how the results from this survey reinforce Dr. Jessilin Quint’s message on having the dry eye conversation with patients.


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