The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Abstract: Anxiety and depression in patients with dry eye syndrome

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the doctors in China who took the time to conduct this study. US doctors, can't you get on the ball one of these days and do the same? This is a widespread problem. It's a door I've been beating on for ages and I'd be really gratified to see something more than a passive interest taken in it one of these days.

To me, depression is simply a given with dry eye - the vast majority of people I have been in contact with over the years have suffered from severe depression at some stage in their journey and some have chronic problems with it so long as their pain levels remain high.

This study validates everything I've ever seen. The primary correlation they found was between OSDI (symptom scores... how bad I feel) and depression. Yet still, doctors who don't see a terrible Schirmer or TBUT or a cornea sloughing off persist on brushing off these patients as having nothing to fuss about. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong. When we hurt, it affects a lot more than our eyes.

Curr Eye Res. 2011 Jan;36(1):1-7.
Anxiety and depression in patients with dry eye syndrome.
Li M, Gong L, Sun X, Chapin WJ.
Department of Ophthalmology, EYE & ENT Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

This study aimed to determine whether patients with dry eye syndrome [DES] have more symptoms of anxiety and depression than controls without DES.

Methods: In this case-control study, the sample consisted of 89 DES subjects (13 diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome [SS]) and 73 control subjects. Each subject was diagnosed as having DES or was chosen as a control subject by an ophthalmologist. The Zung Self Rating Anxiety Scales (SAS), Zung Self Rating Depression Scales (SDS), and Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) were administered to all subjects. Scores of SAS and SDS, measuring level of anxiety and depression symptoms, were compared between the DES group and the control group. Correlations with other health status measures were conducted.

The SAS and SDS scores of the DES group were significantly higher than the control group (P < 0.001, P < 0.001). The prevalence of DES subjects with anxiety or depression symptoms was significantly higher than in the control group (P = 0.003, P < 0.001). In the DES group, SAS scores were found to be correlated with OSDI and educational level. SDS scores were found to be correlated with OSDI. Neither SAS nor SDS scores were correlated with age, sex, household income, tear break up time (BUT), Schirmer Test 1 (S1T), corneal fluorescein staining (FL), or visual acuity.

Anxiety and depression are correlated with DES, demonstrating that DES is an important public health problem that merits increased attention and research.