There has been an astounding increase in the number of patients reporting dry eye symptoms. Interestingly, we've also noticed that complaints of dry eye symptoms are coming from those 15-20 years younger than the supposed "average age" for dry eye symptoms (which is around age 50). Even teenagers are coming in with symptoms in line with a dry eye diagnosis.
There are two main reasons for this uptick; firstly, as a society, we've gone through quite a change in our environment. Screen use is still up post-pandemic and it is now known that you blink 6-8x less when you're using a screen, with 9 out of 10 young adults reporting using two screens simultaneously. We’re also experiencing more in-door time (with air conditioners or central heating).
Secondly, there is more awareness overall of our general health and wellness and that extends to the eyes too - patients are more conscious and informed than ever and keen to seek the most up-to-date treatments.
People seem to be becoming much more informed of dry eye as a condition. When we first launched Peep Club in early 2020, very few people had heard of dry eyes. However, there is still much less awareness relative to how many people are experiencing symptoms.
Many dismiss the early symptoms (which can encompass anything from redness, itching, burning, and excessive watering to a gritty feeling) for allergies or accept a level of mild discomfort without seeking treatment. But the tricky thing about dry eyes is that they will get worse if left untreated and, if left untreated for too long, can be a complicated condition to manage with sight-threatening ramifications.
We need to start thinking of the tears as our 'eye barrier' just like we now appreciate the importance of our 'skin barrier'. Tears are our eyes' main line of defence and when tears are weak, our eyes become vulnerable to a whole host of issues; allergies, bacteria and viral infection - to name a few!
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