Study: Women with Dry Eye Disease Have Lower Pain Threshold

  • BY Lainie Petersen

women dry eyes
A recent study showed that women who have dry eye disease also have a lower tolerance for pain:

“Women with dry eye disease scored significantly lower on tests for heat pain sensitivity (P=0.03) — a measure of overall pain sensitivity — and heat pain suprathreshold (P=0.003) — a measure of pain tolerance — than women who did not have dry eyes, according to Jelle Vehof, PhD, of the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues.”

Side notes to this article note that dry eye disease is marked by a very broad diagnostic criteria, which could mean that study participants may be suffering from other, “underlying” medical conditions.

Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease (or dry eye syndrome) is characterized by a number of symptoms, including a “gritty” or burningĀ  sensation in the eyes, redness and eye discharge, including watery tears that don’t provide adequate lubrication to the irritated eye. While some people occasionally suffer from dry eye symptoms that eventually go away, ongoing symptoms should be checked by a doctor. Untreated dry eyes can lead to additional pain and irritation and can even lead to damaged corneas. Doctors often use the McMonnies & Ho dry eye questionnaire when diagnosing the condition in patients.

In many cases, dry eye disease can be treated with lifestyle changes, including:

  • Improving the quality of air in a room, either by using an air purifier to remove smoke and dust, or a humidifier to address dryness.
  • Blinking more frequently.
  • Wearing glasses and/or sunglasses that fit close to the face can protect eyes against environmental irritants.

Other treatments include:

  • Eye ointments and drops to keep the eye lubricated.
  • Diagnosing and treating other irritating eye conditions such as blepharitis with good eyelid hygiene and, if necessary, medication.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Closing tear ducts to help patients conserve tears. This can be done with the use of special plugs or cauterization. Both procedures require medical intervention.

If you haven’t visited your eye doctor lately, make an appointment and discuss any dry eye symptoms that you might have. He or she can help you find effective treatment.