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The Link Between Dry Eye and Mental Health Challenges 

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month


You may be surprised to learn that there’s a link between Dry Eye Disease and poor mental health. Medical Optometry America is shining a spotlight on the often-overlooked mental health challenges linked to Dry Eye Disease – a condition that up to 50% of all Americans will deal with in their lifetimes.

In many cases, Dry Eye Disease is a debilitating condition that causes a tangible decrease in quality of life for people who suffer severe cases. Symptoms of Dry Eye – itchiness, redness, blurry or hazy vision, excessive tear production and stringy discharge from the eye can be unpleasant in their own right. Patients can ultimately suffer decreased work productivity, lack of interest in social activities, decreased quality and quantity of sleep and a negative overall mental outlook.

Numerous peer reviewed research studies link Dry Eye Disease to depression, anxiety and mood alterations. A key contributing factor is that many people suffering from Dry Eye don’t know there is help available and don’t seek treatment. Dry Eye is a progressive disease and delaying care can cause the condition to worsen. Delay in care can also increase the strain and mental health impacts on the patient. In addition, many medications used to treat depression and mental health disorders can cause Dry Eye as a side effect.

One of the major challenges with Dry Eye is the fact that each case is so unique and requires specialized care from a qualified medical eye care professional who is focused on Dry Eye to determine the root cause of Dry Eye Disease and to develop and enact a personalized treatment plan that makes a positive impact. 


The best advice for people facing mental health challenges is the same advice for people suffering from Dry Eye Disease – seek help. Taking the first step is sometimes difficult and scary, but it is so important to know that resources are available, and caring clinicians are out there wanting to help people who are needlessly suffering. 


Proactive and leading-edge testing and treatment for Dry Eye Disease is one of the cornerstones of MOA’s service offerings. Led by nationally and internationally recognized Dry Eye expert, Dr. Leslie O’Dell, FAAO, the MOA team is passionate about uncovering the root cause of each patients’ Dry Eye and providing tailored therapy that helps them find relief.

“The link between Dry Eye and mental health is direct and important for us all to be aware of,” said Dr. O’Dell. “Finding the right treatment plan for a patient can give them their life back and we need to continue to take the mental health needs of all eye disease patients into account when offering care.”

Getting a baseline Dry Eye assessment is a positive first step towards finding solutions for Dry Eye challenges.

Written by Dr. Leslie E. O’Dell

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