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A study published in the journal Current Eye Research studied whether anxiety and depression is more prevalent in patients who have dry eye syndrome. The researchers found that "anxiety and depression are correlated with Dry Eye Disease, demonstrating that [it] is an important public health problem that merits increased attention and research."
At the Vision Source Vancouver dry eye clinic, our optometrists see the effects of dry eye syndrome on patients every day. Sometimes dry eye can be merely a background irritation. Unfortunately though, dry eye syndrome can get so bad that it can make your life sad, difficult and miserable by taking away the things you love to do and ruining important relationships with friends, family and spouse. It can even keep your from working and put you on permanent disability.
Some people think of dry eyes as a trivial condition. But when dry eye syndrome continues for a long time or gets worse, dry eyes can significantly decrease your quality of life. Many dry eye syndrome sufferers are not able to drive, work on the computer for very long or even watch TV with family because their eyes will not tolerate the activity for more than a few minutes before the pain and dryness require drops or force the person to shut their eyes for relief.
Given how bad dry eye syndrome can get, it is not surprising that dealing with the discomfort, burning, scratching, and pain of dry eye syndrome can make your life bad enough that you may become clinically depressed.
Research shows that people who are older and who have had dry eye syndrome for longer are most at risk of depression and anxiety. This suggests that the earlier you seek treatment the better it is for your mental health.
For dry eye sufferers, the best advice is to go see your eye doctor as soon as possible because a wide variety of effective treatments are available for dry eye syndrome and one of them can probably improve your dry eye symptoms. For most dry eye sufferers, it is possible to avoid the spiral of discomfort, pain, burning and eventual depression and anxiety that can come from dry eye syndrome.
Another study, published in the journal Cornea in December 2015 provided further support to the premise that there is a relationship between dry eye symptions and depression. It is important to bear in mind that it is possible that in dry eye patients suffering from depression, the dry eyes might be a side effect of medication that is being taken to treat the depression.