Background: Dry eye (DE) has been associated with diabetes mellitus (DM). The world escalating prevalence of diabetics is worrying which may project the escalating DE complaint rate. The changes in ocular surface integrity for instance, corneal staining, may indicate DE presence. Tear break-up time (TBUT) is among the vital procedures to assess pre-ocular tear film function and stability.
Objective: The study aimed to compare the dry eye symptoms and signs between diabetic patients and control subjects.
Methods: In a retrospective study, tear break up time (TBUT), Shirmer test I and II (ST), corneal fluorescein staining and symptoms were assessed for 59 diabetic patients and 60 control subjects from the Eye Hospital in Gaza. At least one dry eye (DE) symptoms, TBUT, ST I and II or corneal fluorescein staining was used in assigning patients into either DE or non-DE group. A “yes” or “no” response was further used for the discriminant analysis and tear abnormality (TBUT<10 seconds; ST< 5 mm).
Results: The percentage of DE was 23.7% in diabetic patient males and 44.1% in diabetic patient females. Additionally, the dry eye symptoms were significantly different between the male and female diabetic patients (p=0.023). The frequency of DE symptoms was significantly higher in diabetic patients (16.9%) than control subjects (11.7%). Additionally, the presence of dry eye symptoms was significantly different with diabetic patients (p=0.031). Itching and blurred vision were the two most commonly reported symptoms of diabetic patients and represented 44.1% and 40.7%, respectively. TBUT of diabetic patients was 11.50 ± 7.62 seconds and for control subjects was 13.25 ± 9.24 seconds. Additionally, there was a significant difference between diabetes mellitus (DM) and non-diabetes mellitus patients regarding the volume of aqueous tear film secretion as evaluated by TBUT (p=0.041).
Conclusion: In the current study, the number of patients of dry eye symptoms was higher in diabetic patients than control subjects. Itching and blurred vision were the main symptoms of dry eye among control and DM cases. In addition, TBUT was significantly different between DM patients and control subjects.