A new survey has revealed how few people are aware of Dry Eye Disease, a debilitating and painful eye condition which affects one in four people in the UK.

The No EyeDea survey, funded by Théa Pharmaceuticals, was conducted amongst over 2,000 members of the British public by YouGov. It found that 36% didn’t know what any symptoms of Dry Eye Disease were. Yet many people had experienced these symptoms; more than two in five (43%) had painful, sore or burning sensations in their eyes, while almost half (48%) had felt they had something in their eye. 34% felt that their eyes were watery and one in five had experienced red eyes (21%). Despite the obvious discomfort of Dry Eye Disease, almost a third (32%) just waited to see if the symptoms would go away by themselves.

The survey revealed very low levels of awareness around who is most at risk of Dry Eye Disease with 92% not knowing that women are more likely to suffer with the condition than men, and 84% that the menopause can cause Dry Eye Disease. Lack of awareness around eye health is not uncommon, nearly half (48%) of people answering the survey thought you should get your eyes tested every three years. However, the NHS recommends every two years or even less if you are older or suffering problems with your eyes.

One in four people are thought to suffer with Dry Eye Disease in the UK. Symptoms include eyes that are itchy, sore, gritty, red, blurry, sensitive to light and more watery than normal. You are more likely to suffer from Dry Eye Disease if you're over the age of 50, wear contact lenses, look at computer screens for a long time without a break, spend time in air conditioned or heated environments, smoke or drink alcohol or take certain medicines (for example, some antidepressants or blood pressure drugs).

“Patients should utilise community pharmacists to seek advice in treating their Dry Eye symptoms,” commented Dr Tania Cork, Community Pharmacist. “Nearly half (46%) of people answering the survey said they would use products recommended by their pharmacist, which demonstrates we are well placed to help patients find the right products to manage their condition, from proper lid hygiene to finding the right drop.”

Dry Eye Disease should not be ignored. If left untreated, more severe cases can lead to conjunctivitis, ulceration and vision loss. It can also have a significant impact on sufferers’ quality of life. The survey also revealed the extent of this impact with those who have experienced Dry Eye Disease (n=310) stating it impacted their ability to wear contact lenses (24%), their sleep pattern (18%) and even their overall mood (14%).

“Dry Eye Disease can be a painful condition that can have a huge impact on quality of life,” says Dr Matthew Olsen, Head of UK Marketing, Théa Pharmaceuticals. “Théa remains committed to raising awareness of Dry Eye Disease so people feel confident enough to seek a diagnosis and find the right solutions to manage their condition. With a multitude of products on the market it’s important that pharmacists are well educated on the benefits of preservative free so they can educate their customers too.”