As dry eyes is one of the most common reasons for patient visits to eye care professionals, the latest issue of the journal Optometry and Vision Science focuses on progress in the risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of dry eye disease.

Since various conditions can impact the ocular surface and lead to similar symptoms of dry eyes, diagnosing, treating, and managing patient with dry eye symptoms can be difficult. To help clinicians, the key areas addressed in this issue include:

  • Updated risk factors are Asian race/ethnicity, contact lens wear, glaucoma medications, LASIK surgery, isotretinoin for the treatment of acne, incomplete blinking, and dysfunction of the meibomian glands.
  • A stable tear film is essential but it can be difficult to assess tear film stability. Available diagnostic tests have significant limitations and some newer tests for dry eye remain unproven.
  • Software and phone apps can remind users to take “visual breaks,” or to blink more often to minimize stress to the tear film, to prevent temporary discomfort due to prolonged reading or viewing of computers or other electronic devices.

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Some question the use of the term “dry eye,” while others argue that diagnosing the cause of dry eye symptoms is essential for more effective management. Although many current treatment options for dry eye are primarily palliative, it is noted that there’s hope for future advanced treatments.

Other topics addressed in the special issue are omega-3 supplements, various forms of heat therapy, and ongoing research on the constituents and factors regulating the tear film may lead to effective new treatment strategies.

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