DED patients in this study had both a lower QoL and higher medical costs as a result of the disease. Photo: Scott G. Hauswirth, OD.
DED patients in this study had both a lower QoL and higher medical costs as a result of the disease. Photo: Scott G. Hauswirth, OD. Click image to enlarge.

Dry eye disease (DED) can cause damage to the ocular surface and is associated with symptoms of ocular discomfort. But the disease’s impact doesn’t stop there; it also affects patients’ wallets and quality of life (QoL). Looking into this as it pertains to patients in Canada, where the prevalence of DED has been estimated at 21% (globally, it falls between 5% and 50%), researchers recently found that severe DED was associated with higher direct and indirect costs and lower QoL compared with those with mild or moderate disease. Increased costs and poorer QoL were also more evident in patients with DED plus Sjögren’s syndrome.

The prospective observational study was conducted at six sites across Canada. Eligible patients completed a survey on demography, general health, disease severity, QoL and both direct costs (resource use and out-of-pocket expenses for the past three to 24 months) and indirect costs (absenteeism and presenteeism). Responses from 146 of 151 participants were included in the analysis.

DED was rated as moderate or severe by 19.2% and 69.2% of patients, respectively. Total mean annual costs of DED were $24,331 (Canadian dollars) per patient, increasing with patient-reported disease severity. Mean indirect costs for mild, moderate and severe disease were $5,961, $16,525 and $25,485, respectively. Mean direct costs were $958, $1,303 and $2,766, respectively. QoL scores were lowest in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome (8.2% of cohort) and those with severe DED.

“This study highlights the considerable burdens associated with DED in terms of patient costs (direct and indirect) and reduced QoL, particularly with increased DED severity,” the study authors concluded. They noted that their findings in a Canadian population are consistent with those of studies in other countries with different healthcare structures and recommend further research to establish effective methods of reducing these burdens.

Chan C, Ziai S, Myageri V, et al. Economic burden and loss of quality of life from dry eye disease in Canada. BMJ Open Ophthalmol. September 15, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].