Broadcast: April 7, 2004
This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
Many people around the world suffer from dry eye syndrome. Lack of tears, the natural fluid of the eye, causes this condition. Older people are most likely to develop it.
Dry eye syndrome makes your eyes hurt, itch and feel tired. The condition can damage the surface of your eyes if it is not treated. The syndrome does not cause people to lose their sight. But it can make daily life unpleasant.
Over the years, not much research has been done on dry eye syndrome. But a recent study shows that drugs called ACE inhibitors may prevent the disorder. Doctors usually order these drugs for people to treat high blood pressure. The research results appeared the publication Archives of Ophthalmology.
Barbara Klein led the research team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Almost two-thousand-five-hundred people took part. They were ages forty-eight to ninety-one. None had dry eye syndrome when the study began. Over five years, some took ACE inhibitors for their high blood pressure. Others in the study did not take those drugs.
During the five years, three-hundred-twenty-two people developed dry eye. That was about thirteen percent of those studied. The risk of dry eye syndrome increased among older people and those with other health problems. People who suffered from diabetes were also more likely to develop the condition. So were those with allergies. They had reactions to substances including animal hair and plant pollen. People who took some kinds of medicines also were more likely to develop dry eye than other people.
Dry eye developed in about nine percent of the people taking ACE inhibitor drugs. Among those not taking the drugs, almost fourteen percent got dry eye syndrome.
Health experts say there are simple ways you can try to treat the condition. For example, you can open and close your eyes more often. You can rest your eyes by closing them. You can avoid air conditioning, direct wind and smoke. You can buy a humidifying device to add water to the air inside your home. This especially helps during cold weather. And you can buy fluid for eyes similar to human tears. But if none of this helps, experts say you should see your doctor for advice.
This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.