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Pollution linked to dry eye syndrome

Residents of major cities, such as Chicago and New York, and their suburbs are four times more likely to develop dry eye syndrome than people who live in less urban areas, where the air is less polluted, according to a new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

This is the first study involving a large population of patients from across the United States to link dry eye syndrome with atmospheric conditions.  Residents of metropolitan areas, namely New York, Chicago, Los Angelels and Miami, are subject to high pollution rates and show high prevalence (17 to 21%) of this syndrome.

In addtion, dry eye syndrome is 13% higher in high-altitude areas.  High humidity and strong winds, however, reduce the risk of developing this syndrome.

"Many people living in arid and polluted cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has on dry eye," said lead researcher Anat Galor, assistant professor at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.  "Our research suggests that simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity level indoors and using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome."