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Dry Eye Affects 1.68 Million Older Men in U.S.

Last Updated: June 11, 2009.

Dry eye disease affects 1.68 million U.S. men age 50 and older, and those who have high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, or use antidepressants are at elevated risk, according to a study reported in the June Archives of Ophthalmology.

THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Dry eye disease affects 1.68 million U.S. men age 50 and older, and those who have high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, or use antidepressants are at elevated risk, according to a study reported in the June Archives of Ophthalmology.

Debra A. Schaumberg, O.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from the Physicians' Health Studies I and II to estimate the prevalence of dry eye disease among U.S. men, and then projected it to 2030.

The researchers found that dry eye disease prevalence increased with age and ranged from 3.9 percent in men 50 to 54 to 7.67 percent for men 80 and older. Among the leading risk factors for the condition were high blood pressure (odds ratio, 1.28) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (odds ratio, 1.26). The use of certain medications, including antidepressants, antihypertensives, and benign prostatic hyperplasia medications were also associated with increased risk. The age-standardized prevalence of the condition was 4.34 percent or 1.68 million men 50 years and older, which is much lower than the prevalence in women estimated in an earlier study (3.23 million). The researchers projected that the disease would affect more than 2.79 million U.S. men by 2030.

"Although this number is only about half the estimated prevalence of dry eye disease among women in the same age group, it points to a substantial burden of disease in this segment of the U.S. population. Our data indicating a high frequency of less severe symptoms suggest that the inclusion of milder cases of dry eye disease would swell prevalence estimates considerably," the authors conclude.

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