By May Wong Ek Su, SIECRC

Dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is one of the most common chronic eye problems affecting the general population. The prevalence of dry eye increases with age and in post-menopausal women. An extensive report on dry eye disease, published in July 2017 in the Ocular Surface, updates current understanding of the disease after the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society International Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II).

A/Prof Louis Tong, Senior Consultant of Corneal and External Eye Disease Department at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), spoke on “What’s New in Dry Eye?” during the inaugural Singapore Primary Eye Care Symposium (SPECS) held at One Farrer Hotel & Spa on 11-12 September 2017.

A/Prof Tong graduated in 1993 with basic medical degree from the National University of Singapore and achieved accreditation as an ophthalmologist by the Singapore Medical Council in November 2004. He completed his training in ophthalmology at various centres in the United Kingdom (1996-2000) and in Singapore (2000-2004). He also completed a 2-year overseas cornea research fellowship at the Ocular Surface Centre, Cullen Eye Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, as part of the A*STAR National Science Scholarship.

A/Prof Tong highlighted the revised definition of the disease which is as follows: “Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface characterised by a loss of homeostasis of the tear film, and accompanied by ocular symptoms, in which tear film instability and hyperosmolarity, ocular surface inflammation and damage, and neurosensory abnormalities play etiological roles”. Key points to note in this definition are the addition of the phrases “loss of homeostasis” and “neurosensory abnormalities”, which contribute to the common mismatch between signs and symptoms.

A/Prof Tong concluded the session by emphasising the importance of understanding the broad heterogeneity of the disease as well as highlighting the vital role optometrists can play in the diagnosis and management of dry eye disease.