Washington - According to a medical study, dry eyes condition in humans can significantly reduce the rate of reading and may cause disruption in daily tasks that require visual concentration for long periods. The chronic dry eye is a common disease in which natural tears fail to adequately lubricate the eyes, thus drastically affecting its functioning.
The study was conducted on 186 adults and was published in Journal Optometry and Vision Science. Dry eye specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine mentioned that chronic dry eye condition can slow down a person's reading speed by as much as 10 percent and can make it difficult to read for more than an average of 30 minutes.
According to researchers, dry eye affects millions of adults, primarily those in the age group of 50 and older. It causes ocular discomfort and visual problems.
"Many of my patients have perfect vision on standard eye tests but complain they cannot drive at nighttime or in unfamiliar areas, read small print or do computer work," said researcher Esen Akpek.
"We suspected that people with dry eye were mostly unable to sustain good reading performance because their tears can't re-lubricate their eye surfaces fast enough," she added.
The study revealed that the 116 participants with clinically significant dry eye read fewer words per minute as compared to those with only dry eye symptoms.
While the reading rate was 32 words per minute less in patients with clinically significant dry eye, averaging 240 words per minute compared to the controls and patients with dry eye symptoms but without clinical findings, who read at the same rate of 272 words per minute.
It was found that sustained visual functions such as reading, driving or performing surgery is hard on everyone's eyes because it changes the blink rate, which spreads and replenishes tears over the cornea. However, the change in tempo affects people with a dry eye more severely.
At the beginning and end of the experiments, researchers collected small vials of tears from each participant for future studies that she hopes will offer clues to exact mechanisms causing this visual difficulty and possible treatments.
The diagnosis and treatment of dry eye are often complicated, in part because many conditions may cause it, including clogged oil glands and systemic inflammation from a rheumatologic disease.
According to researchers people who experience frequent dry eye symptoms such as stinging, fluctuating vision and dryness can try over the counter eye drops but will do best if they undergo professional testing and diagnosis.
Current treatments may include prescription drops, lifestyle and environmental changes, and surgical insertion of plugs or other procedures to increase tear production.