Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may be at higher risk for dry eye, the severity of which appears to be tied to inflammation and hyperandrogenism levels, a new study in Eye & Contact Lens suggests.

The investigation enrolled 90 female patients between the ages of 23 and 40, including 47 patients with PCOS and 43 age-matched controls with unexplained infertility. The study evaluated hormone levels, fasting and postprandial glucose, fasting insulin, cholesterol metabolites, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte and platelet-to-lymphocyte ratios, OSDI, TBUT and Schirmer 1 scores.

In the PCOS group, Schirmer 1 scores and TBUT were significantly lower, while OSDI scores were markedly higher compared with controls. Additionally, the researchers noted an inverse correlation between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and TBUT and a negative correlation between neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and TBUT in individuals with PCOS.

The investigators also found that lacrimal and meibomian glands seemed to be the target tissues in individuals with PCOS.

“Dry eye in PCOS may be overlooked in clinical practice,” the study authors wrote in their paper. “Therefore, patients with PCOS should be routinely examined by eye care practitioners.”

Asfuroğlu A, Kan O, Asfuroğlu M, et al. Association between dry eye and polycystic ovary syndrome: subclinical inflammation may be part of the process. Eye Contact Lens. 2021;47(1):27-31.