New survey reveals 90 per cent of Albertans suffer from dry eye symptoms

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 General News
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Optometrists are urging Albertans to seek proper treatment for symptoms associated with dry eye

EDMONTON, March 20,

2019 /CNW/ - A new survey commissioned by the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) has revealed that an overwhelming number of Albertans are experiencing symptoms of dry eye. According to the survey, 90 per cent of Albertans are experiencing
the symptoms which include stinging, gritty, scratchy and uncomfortable eyes, fluctuating vision, and sometimes a burning feeling or feeling of something foreign within the eye.

"People tend to blame their dry eye symptoms on environmental irritants associated with the changing of seasons," said Dr. Troy Brady, practicing optometrist and president of the AAO. "But there are many different factors that can cause dry eye symptoms. What I would like to remind Albertans is that your optometrist can help identify the cause and will work with you to come up with the most appropriate course of treatment."

While dry eye can be treated, the survey revealed that many Albertans are not properly addressing their symptoms. Of great concern to optometrists is the fact that almost 3 in 5 Albertans who have experienced dry eye symptoms (57 per cent) do not use anything to treat their symptoms. If left untreated, dry eye can cause tissue damage and scarring of the sensitive corneal tissues of your eye, leading to impaired vision.

Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, hormonal changes, exposure to certain environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking, UV exposure, environmental irritants, or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants.

In moderate to severe cases, dry eye symptoms can lead to blurred vision, light sensitivity or even periods of excess tearing in response to the dryness. The symptoms can also make contact lens wear more difficult due to increased irritation and greater chance of eye infection.

While over-the-counter drops or lubricating eye treatments can temporarily mask the symptoms, optometrists caution that these can, in some cases, make the situation worse. In fact, symptoms of dry eye may be indicative of a larger issue such as an eyelid infection or disease, which would require a proper diagnosis and treatment from an optometrist.

However, many Albertans are not taking the simple step of booking an appointment with their optometrist to properly diagnose and treat their dry eye symptoms. The survey revealed that 2 in 3 Albertans who have experienced dry eye symptoms (68 per cent) have not visited an optometrist for their dry eye.

"To keep dry eye symptoms in-check, Albertans and their optometrists need to work together," said Dr. Brady. "Optometrists can diagnose, treat and help prevent diseases and disorders affecting the visual system, the eye and related structures. They can also help identify underlying health conditions that are often first detected through an eye exam. The first step is to book an appointment."

Medically necessary visits to an optometrist for concerns such as dry eye symptoms, eye infection or injury, foreign object in the eye or sudden changes in vision are covered by Alberta Health Care. For more information about dry eye symptoms and to find an optometrist, visit optometrists.ab.ca.

Survey detailsPlease note: The survey data applies to those aged 18 and over.Survey methodology: On online omnibus survey was conducted from February 7 – 13, 2019. The research surveyed 1,000 Albertans. The estimated margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.1%.

About the Alberta Association of OptometristsThe Alberta Association of Optometrists represents more than 750 optometrists across the province. Together, they work to ensure world class eye care for every Albertan. For more information or to find an optometrist, visit www.optometrists.ab.ca.

SOURCE Alberta Association of Optometrists



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