Concomitant symptoms of xerostomia (dry mouth) and dry eye are relatively common within an older patient population, according to a new study published in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye. Not only that, the two are positively associated with each other, leading the researchers to suggest that clinicians routinely evaluate for xerostomia symptoms when assessing dry eye patients due to the potentially debilitating implications of both conditions.

The finding, while not surprising, lends more support to the link between the two conditions in the general population over the age of 70. Clinicians have long known dry eye and xerostomia are hallmark signs of Sjögren’s syndrome, for example.        

The study’s secondary analysis evaluated data from 627 participants—346 male and 291 female—with a mean age of 75. Participants completed a questionnaire called the summated xerostomia inventory-Dutch (SXI-D) and rated their overall frequency of dry eye symptoms at baseline.

In totally, 31% of patients reported symptomatic dry eye and 21% reported xerostomia. The team observed a positive correlation between dry eye symptoms and SXI-D scores. Overall, they found that participants with symptomatic dry eye had higher SXI-D scores and were more than two times more likely to report xerostomia than patients without dry eye.

Wang MTM, Thomson WM, Craig JP. Association between symptoms of xerostomia and dry eye in older people. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. September 18, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].