The Vision-related Burden of Dry Eye


To investigate the relationship between dry eye disease (DED) and vision-related quality of life (VR-QoL) at population level.


DED and VR-QoL were assessed in 89,022 participants (18–96 years, 59% female) from the Dutch population-based Lifelines cohort using the Women’s Health study (WHS) and Visual function 25 (VFQ25) questionnaires. The relationship between DED and compromised VR-QoL was assessed with logistic regression, corrected for age, sex, BMI, income, education, smoking, and 55 comorbidities.


9.1% of participants had DED. The participants with DED had higher risk of compromised average of ten domains of VR-QoL (OR 3.12 (95% CI 2.98–3.27) corrected for age, sex, BMI, income, smoking, and 55 comorbidities). Increasing symptom frequency was highly associated with decreasing VR-QoL (P < 0.0005). In all VR-QoL domains, including measures of daily visual function and emotional well-being, DED was clearly associated with compromised VR-QoL. Compared to macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and allergic conjunctivitis, DED presented similar or higher risks for compromised score on all VR-QoL domains. The population-attributable fraction of DED for compromised general vision exceeded that of other eye diseases investigated, especially in the younger age groups.


DED is associated with reductions in all domains of VR-QoL, also after correction for associated comorbidities. We found that DED imposes an extensive population burden regarding compromised VR-QoL due to its high prevalence and substantial impact on VR-QoL, higher than that for other common vision-affecting eye disorders. Our results emphasize the importance of recognizing DED as a serious disorder from both patient and public health perspectives.

Mathias Kaurstad Morthen, Morten Schjerven Magno, Tor Paaske Utheim, Harold Snieder, Nomdo Jansonius, Christopher J. Hammond, Jelle Vehof, The vision-related burden of dry eye, The Ocular Surface, 2021,