PURPOSE. To collect questionnaire data that would allow an estimate of the prevalence of self-reported dry-eye symptomology in a clinical population.
METHODS. Questionnaires were mailed to all optometrists in Canada in December 1994 with instructions for 30 consecutive non-selected (i.e. no exclusion criteria) patients in each practice to complete the 13-point questionnaire.
RESULTS. A total of 13,516 questionnaires were returned over a 6-month period (15.6% of questionnaires; 15.7% of optometrists) with all provinces represented. The patients returning the questionnaire included all age groups (with 55% of the sample being in the 21 to 50 year range) and 60% were female. One in four patients reported having symptoms of dry eye, of which 1.6% (i.e. an estimated prevalence of 40:10,000 patients) reported severe symptoms and 7.5% (an estimated prevalence of 187:10,000 patients) reported constant but moderate symptoms; the rest reported lesser symptoms. Factors that were associated with the dry eye symptomology included contact lens wear, concurrent allergies, and medications for menopause, high blood pressure (including diuretics), birth control or stomach ailments.
CONCLUSIONS. In a normal clinical situation, one in 250 patients will report severe dry eyes, while one in four may report dry eye symptoms.