Background: To determine whether quality of life (QOL) and health utility are affected to the same extent among dry eye (DE) patients with short tear film break-up time dry eye (TBUT-DE) with minimal clinical signs were as severe as aqueous-deficient dry eye (ADDE). Methods: A multicenter cross-sectional study was conducted among DE patients who visited one of 10 eye clinics in Japan. Among the 463 registered patients, this study involved 449 patients with DE who were aged 20 years or older. Ophthalmic examination findings were assessed, including tear film break-up time (TBUT), Schirmer I value, and keratoconjunctival staining score. QOL was evaluated with the Dry Eye-Related Quality-of-Life Score (DEQS; 0 [best], 100 [worst]) and health utility (1 [total health], 0 [worst]) with the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI-3); scores were stratified by DE subgroup. Results: Median (interquartile range) of DEQS and HUI-3 scores across all participants were 21.7 (10.0-40.0) and 0.82 (0.69-0.91), respectively. Median (interquartile range) DEQS and HUI-3 scores in the ADDE group were 23.3 (10.0-40.0) and 0.79 (0.69-0.88), respectively; those in the short TBUT-DE group were 23.3 (13.3-38.3) and 0.82 (0.74-0.92), respectively. There were no significant between-group differences in questionnaire scores. Among the ophthalmic examination findings, a weak significant correlation between TBUT, corneal staining score and keratoconjunctival staining score to DEQS; TBUT and Schirmer test values to HUI-3, were seen. Conclusions: The burden of short TBUT-DE on QOL as assessed by the DEQS and HUI-3 was as severe as that in ADDE. Our findings suggest that clinicians should be aware of the impact of short TBUT-DE on patients QOL and utility values.
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