Dry eye disease, asthma relationship explored


Asthma may increase patient risk of developing dry eye disease.

People living with asthma may have a higher risk of developing dry eye disease compared with those living without asthma, according to results of a meta-analysis published in BMJ Open.1

Through a systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers sought to further evaluate the relationship between dry eye disease and asthma as, to the best of their knowledge, no previous meta-analyses had been performed.

In total, 231 citations were identified; after exclusion criteria were applied, 6 met the requirements for inclusion in the current study.

Study cohort sizes ranged from 1174 to 105,794, with a total of 45,215 patients with asthma and 232,864 without. Participant ethnicities were varied and included patients who were Arabian, Australian, Asian, and Caucasian.

Using a random effects model, investigators found that the overall asthma group had a significantly higher prevalence of dry eye disease compared with the control group (odds ratio [OR], 95% CI, 1.20-1.38). However, due to a lack of data, it was “not possible to detect an association between asthma and diverse subtypes” of dry eye disease.

Subgroup analyses were performed based on participant ethnicity. Results of these stratified analyses showed a statistically significant correlation in Australians, Caucasians, and Asians (ORs, 1.60, 1.54, and 1.29, respectively).

Study limitations included those inherent to meta-analysis of observational studies and a lack of universal diagnostic criteria due to geographic and cultural differences.

“The results of our meta-analysis show that asthma patients have a higher risk of developing [dry eye disease] than those without asthma, and this relationship is significant in Australians, Caucasians, and Asians,” the researchers wrote. “However, this association may not reflect the cause and effect if unidentified confounders account for the results.”

“These data suggest that patients with asthma may be at risk of developing a comorbid diagnosis of [dry eye disease] and should try to avoid risk factors and strengthen the prevention of [dry eye disease].”

Originally published on our sister publication, Drug Topics.


  1. Huang Q, Zheng Y, Zhang C, et al. Association between asthma and dry eye disease: A meta-analysis abased on observational studies. BMJ Open. 2021;11(12):e045275. Doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045275
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