Objective: To assess the perceptions of eye care providers regarding the clinical management of dry eye.
Methods: Invitations to complete a 17-question online survey were mailed to 400 members of the North Carolina Ophthalmology and Optometry Associations including community optometrists, comprehensive ophthalmologists, and cornea specialists.
Results: The survey was completed by 100 eye care providers (25% response rate). Providers reported burning (46.5%) as the most frequent symptom described by patients, followed by foreign body sensation (30.3%) and tearing (17.2%). Most respondents (80.8%) listed artificial tears as the recommended first-line treatment, even though providers reported high failure rates for both artificial tears and cyclosporine A (Restasis). Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren syndrome, affective disorders such as anxiety and depression, history of photorefractive surgery, smoking, and thyroid disease were acknowledged as common comorbid conditions.
Conclusions: The survey provided an informative snapshot into the preferences of eye care providers concerning the diagnosis and management of dry eye disease. Overall, burning was the most common symptom reported by patients. Providers relied more on patient history in guiding their clinical decisions than objective signs. The survey underscores the incongruence when comparing subjective symptoms with objective signs, thereby highlighting the urgent need for the development of reliable metrics to better quantify dry eye symptoms and also the development of a more sensitive and specific test that can be used as the gold standard to diagnose dry eye.