In a trip last year to the Chinese Ocular Surface and Tear Film Disease Congress in China, I spent time after the meeting visiting several hospitals and touring dry eye clinics. I was amazed at how many patients there suffer from dry eye. One hospital I visited sees 1 million outpatient visits each year, and many of these patients suffer from dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction. In one study, the total number of diagnosed cases of dry eye in all of China has been reported to be 194 million, and of course many more must be undiagnosed as not everyone has access to health care.
At every hospital, city after city, I saw hundreds of patients seeking help. I talked to my Chinese colleagues, who understand the global epidemic and feel passionate about treating dry eye disease in their patient population. In quite a variety of clinic types, regardless of the level of equipment available, colleagues were taking the lead in addressing this disease. Globally, ophthalmologists are dedicating time, space and resources to dry eye. That was exciting to me. It validated my own passion for continually improving dry eye diagnosis and treatment.
Seeing the overwhelming demand for dry eye services globally underscored the need for more options in the realm of diagnostics and treatment of dry eye disease. The technologies we use to diagnose and treat dry eye have advanced by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years, and I’m pleased to know that those companies and others continue to develop more technologies to improve our work. But with so many millions suffering, we need robust, efficient means to diagnose dry eye and stratify the diagnosis at a deeper level, perhaps through more advanced tear testing or the integration of artificial intelligence into the process. The drug delivery and molecule design space is also promising over the next few years. I look forward to new pharmacologic treatment therapies as well as advances in the procedures used to treat dry eye that will allow us to reach more patients.
The next generations of dry eye technologies will need to address the global problem of dry eye, in a variety of clinics and settings. I’m excited to be part of what happens next.
Total prevalent cases of dry eye syndrome soar in China. www.hospitalmanagement.net/comment/total-prevalent-cases-dry-eye-syndrome-soar-china. Published July 26, 2018.
Disclosure: Gupta reports she is a consultant to Allergan, Alcon, Bio-Tissue, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Kala, NovaBay, Oyster Point Pharmaceuticals, Ocular Science, Shire, TearLab and Zeiss.