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HomeminewsTFOS Workshops Explore Ocular Surface Disease

TFOS Workshops Explore Ocular Surface Disease

Just the mention of ‘dry eye’ can have practitioners rolling their eyes. This omnipresent disease, which seems to be trending in articles, presentations, and particularly patient visits, can be a frustrating, misunderstood, often uninspiring (dare I say to some, even boring!) and very time-consuming condition to manage.

For those with little understanding of its aetiology and pathology, it can be seen as a one-dimensional, trivial condition that has little importance compared to ‘sight-threatening’ diseases that affect the macula and optic nerve for example.

However, the narrative about ‘dry eye’ is changing, with a new chapter to demonstrate that practitioners are dealing with an ocular surface disease (OSD), of which dry eye is just one aspect.

As a member of the TFOS Public Awareness Lifestyle Committee, I have recently returned from Taormina, Sicily, where I participated in an inspiring collaboration with my international colleagues and heard from the Chairs of the latest TFOS Workshop, A Lifestyle Epidemic: Ocular Surface Disease.

This TFOS Workshop is focussed on the direct and indirect consequences of the lifestyle choices we make on the ocular surface. The subcommittee topics include digital environment, cosmetics, nutrition, elective medicines and procedures, environmental conditions, lifestyle challenges, contact lens wear, and societal challenges. Within the workshop we have an evidence quality subcommittee, an industry liaison subcommittee, and a public awareness committee.

Not surprisingly, your own lifestyle choices as a practitioner may well be risk factors for OSD yourself. Do you often use a screen/ tablet/mobile? How is your diet? Is your gut microbiome balanced? Do you use cosmetics; do you wash your face with soap or shampoo, or get your lashes tinted? Do you wear contact lenses? What sort of activities do you do outside of work? Do you live in a low humidity environment as I do in Adelaide, or are you ‘lucky’ enough to be in a more humid environment where dryness isn’t an additional exacerbating factor? Do you ride a bike. Do you ski? Ever wondered what effect the altitude has on your eyes? Where do you work and is your building ‘sick’? Do you have any control of the air conditioning system? What is the environmental pollution like near you? Are you on any medication? Do you take supplements? How well do you sleep? Any stress? Have you suffered with depression?

If this has you thinking, then spare a thought for your patients and the effect that their lifestyle choices have on their ocular surface. As optometrists and ophthalmologists, by default we have had access to tertiary education, but many of our patients face socio-economic and geographical challenges which have affected their education, their subsequent understanding of their health, access to medical services for treatments and even dietary choices. All of these factors can lead to OSD, which can debilitate people socially, economically, and emotionally through chronic pain and poor vision.

GET READY TO TAKE ACTION

Stay tuned and be warned: you will soon be inundated with myriad reports on the risk factors for, and the influences our global lifestyle has on the ocular surface, as well as directions for future research.

Don’t be another practitioner in the dark who continues to roll your eyes when ‘dry eye’ is mentioned – jump on board with managing OSD more effectively as we bring you more information soon.

For more information visit: tearfilm.org. Follow TFOS Lifestyle Workshop updates on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram: #TFOSLifestyle #Ocularsurfacedisease

Dr Jennifer Rayner co-founded South Australia’s first stand-alone dry eye clinic – Alleve Eye Clinic. She has lectured on dry eye topics nationally and internationally, she sits on advisory boards for emerging pharmaceuticals, is a key opinion leader for dry eye equipment, and a member of the current TFOS Lifestyle Workshops Public Awareness Committee.