Newswise — (Washington, D.C.) The vision community and its coalition partners announced awareness and educational activities in July 2019 around the annual recognition of Dry Eye Awareness Month. Since July 2017, when the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society’s landmark Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II™) Report was published in The Ocular Surface journal, the community has organized events to increase awareness about the growing global impact of dry eye disease. The vision community is making Congressional education about dry eye a priority since it also impacts healthcare policy—being one of the most frequent causes of patient visits to eye care providers—and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including its National Eye Institute (NEI), funds research into its causes and potential treatments.
Today, July 10th, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), in conjunction with TFOS, will hold a Congressional Briefing and Screening entitled Ongoing Impact of TFOS DEWS II™ on Dry Eye Clinical Practice & Research from 12 Noon – 1:15 pm in the House Rayburn Building Room 2043, which will be bookended by a “Test Your Tears” Dry Eye Screening from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm. The Briefing features a panel of experts who participated in the development of the TFOS DEWS II™ Report and who have been speaking internationally about its impact on clinical practice and research. They will focus on four aspects of dry eye: Iatrogenic Dry Eye (that which results from medication and/or medical procedures), ocular pain, the growing public health problem of DED in children, and how research is resulting in promising new treatments.
Lasting for more than two years and focusing on the causes of dry eye as well as its diagnosis and management, TFOS DEWS II™ engaged more than 150 eyecare professionals and researchers from around the world and resulted in this major consensus report. It updated the definition, classification, and diagnosis of dry eye; critically evaluated the epidemiology, pathophysiology, mechanism, and impact of the disease; addressed dry eye management and therapy; and developed recommendations for the design of clinical trials to assess pharmaceutical interventions. The report addresses multiple aspects of the physical, psychological, and socioeconomic impacts of DED, and explains why lifestyle choices, such as environment, surgery, social media use, contact lens wear, anti-depressant medications, and cosmetics are risk factors for the condition.
Dry eye disease, a global problem affecting more than 30 million people in the United States alone, occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. For some people, it feels like a speck of sand in the eye, or a stinging or burning sensation that does not go away. For others, dry eye can become a painful chronic and progressive condition that leads to blurred vision or even vision loss if it goes untreated due to inflammation that can cause ulcers or scars on the cornea—the clear surface of the eye. Moderate-to-severe dry eye is associated with significant quality-of-life consequences such as pain, role limitations, low vitality, poor general health, and depression. Although dry eye disease has no cure, its signs and symptoms can be managed. A lifestyle change, if warranted, may also help in this effort to a great degree.
Although researchers have long known about age, sex, and gender as factors, they are now discovering ethnic and racial differences, and that dry eye impacts younger patients. It can have many causes, including environmental exposure; side-effects from medications or eye surgery; lid disorders; immune system diseases such as Sjögren Syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis; contact lens wear; cosmetic use; aesthetic procedures; and an increasingly common cause—staring at computer or smartphone screens for too long.
The vision community members recognizing July 2019 as Dry Eye Awareness Month and engaging in awareness and educational activities include:
Alliance for Eye and Vision Research Healthy Women
American Academy of Ophthalmology Prevent Blindness
American Academy of Optometry Research to Prevent Blindness
American Optometric Association Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation
Association for Research in Vision Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society
and Ophthalmology Women’s Eye Health
TFOS thanks the following industry partners who supported TFOS DEWS II™ with unrestricted donations, including: Alcon, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Shire, Allergan, Bausch+Lomb, Akorn, CooperVision, Dompé, Horus Pharma, Lµbris Biopharma, Oculeve, TearLab, Laboratoires Théa, SIFI, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Quint Health, Scope Ophthalmics, Sun Pharma, Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. ZEISS Group, and Senju.
About Research to Prevent Blindness
Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is the leading nonprofit organization supporting eye research directed at the prevention, treatment, or eradication of all diseases that damage and destroy sight. As part of this purview, RPB also supports efforts to grow and sustain a robust and diverse vision research community. Since it was founded in 1960 by Dr. Jules Stein, RPB has awarded more than $368 million in research grants to the most talented vision scientists at the nation’s leading medical schools. As a result, RPB has been associated with nearly every major breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of vision loss in the past 59 years. Learn more at www.rpbusa.org.
Founded in 2000, the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society is a world leader in eye health education headquartered in Boston. A 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, TFOS is dedicated to advancing the research, literacy, and educational aspects of the scientific field of the eye’s surface. More information about the TFOS DEWS II™ Report is available at www.tearfilm.org
Founded in 1993, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation dedicated to education about the importance of federal funding for eye and vision research. Information about the July 10 Congressional events is available at www.eyeresearch.org