Vision Community Recognizes July as Dry Eye Awareness Month, Hosting Congressional Briefing

Washington, D.C. – The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) and the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS) are pleased to announce the eighth joint Dry Eye Awareness Month Congressional Briefing, scheduled to take place this summer. Titled "A Lifestyle Epidemic: Ocular Surface Disease, Researching the Impact of Cosmetics on Eye Health," this informative briefing will be held on Thursday, July 20th at noon ET in room 2044 of the Rayburn House Office Building. To reserve your spot and ensure an accurate lunch count, please RSVP to AEVR at [email protected].

Since the publication of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society's landmark Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II™) Report in The Ocular Surface Journal in 2017, July has been officially recognized as Dry Eye Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the vision community has organized various events aimed at raising awareness about the escalating global impact of dry eye disease. Notably, policymakers are being engaged to heighten their understanding of dry eye disease and the pressing need to support research initiatives that can enhance patient outcomes.

Dry eye disease, one of the leading causes of patient visits to eye care providers, demands ongoing attention and prioritization. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Eye Institute (NEI), continues to allocate funding toward research on the causes of and potential treatments for dry eye disease.

During the briefing, a panel of experts will shed light on various aspects of dry eye disease, including risk factors, ocular pain, the role of cosmetics in eye health, and the indispensable nature of continued research in developing groundbreaking treatments and fostering heightened awareness to prevent the onset of dry eye disease. The panel includes David A. Sullivan, MS, PhD, FARVO (TFOS), Kathy Hammitt (Sjögren’s Foundation), Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD (Vision Optique, Houston, Texas), and Shane Swatts, OD (Eastern Virginia Eye Associates).

Global in scope, dry eye disease affects over 40 million individuals just in the United States. It arises when the eye fails to produce tears adequately or when tears evaporate too quickly due to inconsistencies in their composition. The symptoms can range from a persistent sensation of a foreign object in the eye to stinging and burning discomfort. Left untreated, dry eye disease can develop into a chronic and progressive ailment, potentially leading to blurred vision or even vision loss. Inflammation can result in corneal ulcers or scars, impairing the clarity of the eye's surface. Moderate-to-severe dry eye has significant implications for an individual's quality of life, often causing pain, limitations in daily activities, reduced vitality, overall decline in health, and even depression. While there is currently no cure for dry eye disease, managing its signs and symptoms is achievable, and a lifestyle adjustment, if necessary, can greatly contribute to this effort.

Researchers have long recognized age, sex, and gender as influential factors, but recent studies have unveiled ethnic and racial differences in dry eye prevalence, highlighting its impact on younger patients. Multiple factors can contribute to dry eye disease, including environmental exposure, inadequate nutrition, medication side effects, previous eye surgery, lid disorders, immune system diseases like Sjögren’s Syndrome, Lupus, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, contact lens wear, use of cosmetics, aesthetic procedures, and prolonged exposure to computer or smartphone screens—an increasingly common cause.

The organizations participating in the recognition of July 2023 as Dry Eye Awareness Month and actively engaging in awareness and educational activities include:

Alliance for Eye and Vision Research Healthy Women
American Academy of Ophthalmology Prevent Blindness
American Academy of Optometry Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association Research to Prevent Blindness
American Optometric Association Sjögren’s Foundation
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society 


AEVR and TFOS thank the sponsors and supporters that are helping to bring this Congressional Briefing to fruition, including Alcon, Allergan, Genentech, Association for Research and Vision for Ophthalmology, Johnson and Johnson Vision, Jansen, Novartis, and Research to Prevent Blindness.