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Brain injury and stress disorder strong indicators of vision problems for veterans
Date:11/11/2012

h the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who led the study. "It is critical that these patients receive vision assessment and when appropriate, be referred to ophthalmologists to make sure they get the eye care they need, for as long as they need it."

Eye Disorder Common in Seniors Strikes Sooner in Veterans with PTSD

Another study of war veterans, conducted at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, found that veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression are much more likely to develop dry eye syndrome than veterans who do not have these psychological diagnoses. In their review of more than two million veterans' medical records, the research team found that about 20 percent of those diagnosed with PTSD or depression have dry eye syndrome, a disorder that disrupts the tear glands' normal ability to keep the eyes moist.

The disorder's impact on vision can range from mild to severe, causing the sufferer's eyes to feel scratchy or irritated, to become overly-watery, or secrete stringy mucus. Treatment options include simple warm compresses, artificial tears, and surgical insertion of plugs to retain tears. In the general U.S. population, the risk of dry eye syndrome increases with age, affecting about 3.2 million women age 50 and older and 1.68 million men age 50 and older.

The average age of the veterans with dry eye in this VAMC study is younger than is typical for dry eye patients in the civilian population. It was unclear from the study whether the veterans' dry eye was directly caused by PTSD or depression, or the medications given for these conditions, or perhaps a combination of factors was to blame. Estimates of the prevalence of PTSD in all U.S. veterans range from two to 17 percent.

"Many vets won't mention that their eyes always feel gritty or seem to water for no reason, unless they're asked," said
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
510-725-5677
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert  

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