Patients with dry eye commonly suffer from dry skin as well. Photo: Getty Images.

It’s common for dry eye patients to complain of dry skin. Researchers recently looked further into this to more precisely pinpoint the association.

This cross-sectional study included 50 participants, 25 with and 25 without dry eye symptoms. A Schein questionnaire was used to determine the severity of dry eye symptoms. Ocular signs were assessed by monitoring conjunctival hyperemia, ocular surface staining, meibomian gland expression, tear film lipid layer thickness, tear breakup time (TBUT), lid parallel conjunctival folds, Schirmer test and meibometry. Skin dryness was assessed by patients’ self-perceptions and measured by sebumeter.

Those without dry eye symptoms reported oilier facial skin than those with dry eyes and had higher sebumetry scores. Older women more frequently had dry eye symptoms, complained of dry skin and had lower sebumetry scores.

After adjusting for age and gender, dry eye was associated with dry skin, higher lid-parallel conjunctival fold (LIPCOF) score of both eyes, lower sebumetry score of the forehead and cheeks and shorter TBUT score after gland expression.

There were no differences between the groups in meibometry scores before and after gland expression. “Meibometry is a method described in several published papers. However, when performed as instructed by the manufacturer, it produced low repeatability values, which eventually failed to detect dry eye patients or correlate with other measured parameters,” the authors noted.

Multiple regression analysis highlighted self-reported skin type, older age, female gender, lower forehead and cheek sebumetry, TBUT and LIPCOF as significant predictors and indicators of ocular dryness. Therefore, the authors suggested a self-reported skin type can be used to suspect or detect dry eye.

“This study strongly suggested that dry eye and dry skin accompany each other and that subjects who complain of skin dryness might simultaneously suffer from ocular dryness and vice versa,” they concluded. “Paying attention to these symptoms might be essential for the early detection and relief of ocular or skin dryness with subsequent improvement in patients’ quality of life.”

Petricek I, Pauk SV, Tomic M, Bulum T. Dry eye and dry skin – is there a connection? Ophthalmic Epidemiology. December 29, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].