Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big city pollution tied to dry eye syndrome; Researchers suggest high quality air filters

Residents of major cities with high levels of air pollution have an increased risk of dry eye syndrome, according to a new study.

Study subjects in and around Chicago and New York City were found to be three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome compared to less urban areas with relatively little air pollution. As a result of this study, researchers suggest that environmental manipulations should be considered as part of the overall control and management of patients with dry eye syndrome.

Dry eye syndrome, a deficiency in tear production, is a prevalent condition that effects up to four million people age 50 and older in the United States.

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be very detrimental to patients and severely affect the quality of one's life, as well as result in loss of productivity due to interruption of daily activities like reading and using computer screens. While it has been suggested that environmental factors impact dry eye syndrome, this is the first study of a large patient population covering the entire continental United States which linked dry eye syndrome treatment location to atmospheric conditions – in particular, air pollution coupled with weather conditions.

"Undoubtedly, many people living in arid and polluted cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has on dry eye," said Anat Galor, M.D., MPSH, of Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and lead researcher. "Our
research suggests that simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity indoors and using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome."

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