August 29, 2017
2 min read

People with higher body fat may be more likely to report dry eye

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The association between body fat percentage and gender, wear of contact lenses and older age were significant predictors of less ocular comfort, according to a study in Eye & Contact Lens.

Participants measured their weight, height and waist circumference; body fat percentage was optional.

A total of 305 participants, including 52 contact lens wearers, completed the study, 78 of whom measured their body fat percentage. Most participants were Asian or white, and more females reported contact lens wear. Less than one-fifth of participants reported any health conditions, with the most commonly reported conditions being high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Twenty patients reported past ocular surgery.

Patients completed a survey composed of the short form Dry Eye Questionnaire (SFDEQ) and the Ocular Comfort Index (OCI).

Moderate correlation was found between body fat percentage and dry eye symptoms, according to researchers.

Mean BMI for the study population was 24.1 for males and 22.3 for females. Waist circumference was 85.0 cm for males and 73.7 cm for females. Mean body fat percentage was 14.6% for males and 23.6% for females.

Researchers observed a strong correlation between BMI and waist circumference, but a weak correlation between body fat percentage and BMI and between body fat percentage and waist circumference, according to the study.

A moderate correlation between body fat percentage and SFDEQ and between body fat percentage and OCI was observed in the 78 participants who were not underweight and opted to measure body fat percentage.


Moreover, SFDEQ was significantly higher in high/very high group than the low/normal body fat percentage group, but this did not reach statistical significance for the OCI.

When the population was divided into dry eye vs. non-dry eye based on the OCI, there was no significant difference between groups in body fat percentage. Researchers did find significant differences between groups in BMI, but in a direction opposite to that expected.

The difference was considered clinically significant for waist circumference, 4.4 cm greater in the non-dry eye group, but not for BMI, 1.1 kg/m2.

The mean two-question DEQ (2QDEQ) was 6.28. Body fat percentage was only significantly correlated with higher score in 2QDEQ in females, but not in males, it was found.

A moderate positive correlation was found between body fat percentage and symptoms of dry eye measured by two validated questionnaires, according to researchers.

Women with body fat values of 30% and above and men with body fat values of 20% and above were more likely to report dry eye on the SFDEQ.

“These findings support our initial hypothesis of a link between releases of obesity-induced nonspecific proinflammatory factors systemically and the production of an ocular inflammatory condition such as dry eye,” the researchers concluded. – by Abigail Sutton

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.