Survey: Dry Eye Is Common, But Americans Remain Uneducated About the Condition


Results of a new survey show that individuals with dry eye believe the condition is something “people must learn to live with.”

Most Americans remain uninformed about dry eye—including those experiencing symptoms of the condition, according to results of Bausch + Lomb’s inaugural State of Dry Eye survey.1

“The prevalence of dry eye is growing, particularly among a younger demographic in large part due to modern lifestyles and heavy digital device use,” said Yehia Hashad, MD, executive vice president of research and development and chief medical officer, in a news release. “The survey results underscore the importance of raising awareness of dry eye so sufferers are empowered to speak with an eye care professional to seek relief.”

A total of 2003 adults responded to the company’s survey, including 461 individuals with dry eye. Results were published on July 8.

Americans remain uninformed about dry eye—including those experiencing symptoms of the condition. | Image credit: irishmaster -

Americans remain uninformed about dry eye—including those experiencing symptoms of the condition. | Image credit: irishmaster -

Survey results revealed several key findings about dry eye, including that most respondents—70%—“don’t know much about preventing or treating dry eye,” despite frequently experiencing symptoms related to the disease, including tired eyes (38%), sensitivity to light (27%), and redness (19%). Only 15% of respondents reported regularly experiencing dry eye, “suggesting people may not recognize their symptoms could be associated with dry eye.”

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Respondents also indicated that dry eye impacts their quality of life and ability to enjoy daily activities. Seventy-five percent of those with dry eye described the condition as extremely or very bothersome, while 81% said they are “constantly aware of how their eyes feel.” A majority of those with dry eye (67%) said that they had to either give up or cut back on something—such as screen time, spending time outdoors, or wearing makeup—in order to improve their symptoms. Symptoms had the most notable impact on individuals’ ability to read, use a device, and drive.

“Most people think of dry eye as a minor nuisance, but the truth is it can drastically affect one’s daily life,” said Rebecca Petris, president and cofounder of the Dry Eye Foundation. “Early symptoms are often misunderstood, downplayed, ignored, or self-treated.”

Survey results backed this up, demonstrating that just over half of those with dry eye “think dry eyes are difficult to address and [are] something people must learn to live with.” However, if left untreated, dry eye may get worse, progressing to dry eye disease, which has the potential to impact both eye health and vision.

“The good news is treatment and symptom management options are available,” Petris added. “People are finding relief.”

According to the National Eye Institute, nearly 16 million Americans have dry eye. While anyone can get dry eye, it is more common in individuals aged 50 years and older, in women, and in those who wear contact lenses, as well as individuals who lack vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids or who have autoimmune conditions such as lupus or Sjögren syndrome.2

The most effective dry eye treatment depends on the underlying cause of disease. Treatments may include OTC eye drops, prescription medications, and lifestyle changes; tear duct plugs and surgery are also options.

READ MORE: Eye Health Resource Center

1. Millions of Americans experience dry eye symptom, yet new national survey shows sufferers struggle to find relief. News release. Bausch + Lomb. July 8, 2024. Accessed July 8, 2024.
2. Dry eye. National Eye Institute. Updated November 15, 2023. Accessed July 8, 2024.
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