Clinicians already know dry eye disease (DED) can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life. Now, researchers have a better sense of just how much the condition affects a patient’s work—the worse the dry eye, the worse their performance on the job.  The team found that worse DED symptoms were associated with decreased activity level within each person.

The cohort consisted of 535 participants at baseline, of which 279 (52%) were employed and mean activity impairment was 24.5%. Participants completed a questionnaire at baseline, six and 12 months and were assessed for symptoms and signs (conjunctival and corneal staining, tear break-up time and Schirmer’s test) of DED.

Among those employed, the mean score was 2% for absenteeism, 18% for presenteeism and 19.6% for overall work impairment. Higher Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) symptom scores were associated with greater absenteeism, presenteeism and activity impairment. Overall work impairment and activity impairment increased by 4.3% and 4.8%, respectively, per 10 units of change in OSDI scores. Worsening OSDI scores were associated with increasing impairment in work and non-work related activity: 2.0% and 3.1% per 10 units in OSDI, respectively.

The researchers noted that worse corneal staining and tear break-up time were associated with higher overall work impairment and activity level, but they did not find an association between longitudinal changes in these two signs with changes in work productivity or activity impairment.

Greco G, Pistilli M, Asbell PA, et al. Association of severity of dry eye disease with work productivity and activity impairment in the Dry Eye Assessment & Management Study. Ophthlamol. October 15, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].