Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition caused by a lack of sufficient tears, which are necessary for maintaining eye health and clear vision. It is a common and often chronic problem occurring in middle-aged and elderly people. In the nine major pharmaceutical markets (9MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, China, and India), GlobalData epidemiologists found that nearly two-thirds of all DES cases went undiagnosed in 2018 (as shown in Figure 1).

The main driver behind this finding is the lack of uniform diagnostic criteria or disease guidelines for the diagnosis of DES. This often presents a challenge to primary eye care physicians due to the wide variety of DES presentations and symptoms. As a result, DES goes largely undiagnosed and untreated. For example, in 2018 there were over 417 million total cases of DES in the 9MM, but only about 145 million of these cases were diagnosed. Japan, China, and India experienced the largest gaps in the diagnosis of DES in 2018, with undiagnosed cases accounting for nearly 70% of the total DES population. In contrast, the US experienced the smallest gap in DES diagnosis, although it was still substantial, with undiagnosed cases accounting for over 25% of the total DES population. These deficiencies highlight a critical public health need to enhance physician training and diagnostic methods in the detection and diagnosis of DES.

The accurate and timely identification of DES cases in the primary eye care setting is crucial for improving patient outcomes. Future efforts should prioritise addressing gaps in physician awareness, developing uniform diagnostic criteria, and implementing routine assessments or screening programs. All of these approaches will help to eliminate the disparity between the undiagnosed and diagnosed DES cases.

Figure 1: 9MM, Total and Diagnosed Prevalent Cases of dry eye syndrome, Both Sexes, Ages ≥18 Years, 2018 (N)

Credit: GlobalData