A study published in the October 2012 issue of ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research found that dry eye disease causes workers to loose productivity and costs their employers big bucks.
The study, by Japanese researchers, looked at a total of 396 individuals aged 20 years or older (258 men and 138 women). Study subjects were classified into the following four groups according to the diagnostic status and subjective symptoms of dry eye: a definite dry eye group; a marginal dry eye group; a self-reported dry eye group; and a control group. The impact of dry eye on work productivity was evaluated using the Japanese version of the Work Limitations Questionnaire. The cost of work productivity loss associated with dry eye and the economic benefits of providing treatment for dry eye were also assessed.
The study found that degree of work performance loss was 5.65% in the definite dry eye group, 4.37% in the marginal dry eye group, 6.06% in the self-reported dry eye group, and 4.27% in the control group. Productivity in the self-reported dry eye group was significantly lower than that in the control group. The researchers estimated that employers loose $741 per year for every dry eye sufferer that they employ.
The study shows that dry eye impairs work performance among office workers, which may lead to a substantial loss to industry. Management of symptoms of dry eye by providing treatment may contribute to improvement in work productivity.
Dry eye and quality of life
The prevalence of dry eye varies among the reports with some studies putting the number as high as 30% of the population. Dry eye disease is a chronic eye disorder in North America. The risk of going blind or suffering permanent vision loss due to dry eye is low. Nevertheless, it has a significant impact on the daily and social lives of affected patients. In our Vancouver dry ey clinic, we have seen patients whose dry eye disease was so debilitating that they could not hold down a job and were permanently disabled. One study foudn that patients with dry eye syndrome had more difficulty reading, carrying out professional work, using a computer, watching television, and driving compared with those without dry eye. (see Miljanovic B, Dana R, Sullivan DA, Schaumberg DA. Impact of dry eye syndrome on vision-related quality of life. Am J Ophthalmol. 2007; 143(3):409–415.).