A study carried out in Miami found high seasonal variability in dry eye signs and symptoms, with peaks in spring and autumn.
These findings have important implications for season-specific dry eye management, according to the authors.
The study was based on two sets of data. The first was the national U.S. veteran affairs (VA) database, from which all visits for dry eye to any VA facility between 2010 and 2013 were extracted. The second was collected from a prospective cohort of patients presenting for dry eye at the Miami VA Healthcare eye clinic between January 2014 and December 2016. Patients had a complete ocular surface evaluation and were asked to answer a questionnaire.
By comparing the two sets of data, the authors found a 10% higher prevalence of visits for dry eye in Miami as compared to the rest of the country. Miami also exhibited a stronger seasonal pattern for both signs and symptoms, with prominent bimodal peaks in spring and autumn and the lowest scores in January and July.
The role of seasonality for dry eye is not fully understood. The authors hypothesized that weather variability, which is typical of spring and autumn, might cause an imbalance of the tear film and ocular surface, leading to evaporation and aqueous loss. The changing weather conditions can also indirectly modify the exposure to air pollutants and allergens, facilitating the production of pollens and mold spores and thus contributing to ocular surface inflammation and dry eye.
“Our findings have important implications for improving the understanding of dry eye pathophysiology and for developing prevention and management strategies,” the authors wrote. “Identifying seasonal mechanisms allows for targeted environmental manipulations that are more cost effective and generate fewer adverse and/or side effects than current dry eye therapies.
He also pointed out that the increase in annual temperatures and weather extremes caused by climate changes are likely to increase the prevalence and severity of dry eye worldwide. Elucidating the direct and indirect effects of seasonality on dry eye will, therefore, become even more important. – by Michela Cimberle
Disclosure: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.