A hydrophilic, preservative-free artificial tear may improve mild to moderate dry eye disease (DED) after 2 weeks of use, according to research published in Clinical Optometry. 

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, including Andrew D. Pucker, OD, and Chris Lievens, OD, included 30 frequent digital device users (70% women; mean age, 28.6 years) who scored 80 or lower on the Impact of Dry Eye on Everyday Life (IDEEL) quality of life work domain and between 13 and 32 on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) in the 2-week, 3-visit investigation. The research team randomly assigned participants to unit dose or multi dose treatments for 1 week before having them cross over to the other dosing system for another week. No washout period was necessary since only the dosing system, and not the artificial tear treatment, changed. 

Participants reported using digital devices for a mean 12.4, 12.9, and 10.7 hours on day 1, week 1, and week 2, respectively and applying artificial tears a mean 4.4, 5.0, and 5.1 times per day, respectively. Both IDEEL (daily activity, feelings, and work domains) and OSDI scores improved significantly during the 2-week study duration (P <.0001 for all). Despite these significant quality of life improvements, no clinically meaningful improvements in visual acuity were noted (right eye, P =.05; left eye, P =.21).

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A total of 55% of study participants reported a preference for the unit dose dispensing system compared with 45% for the multi dose system. Overall, 55% of participants reported they would likely continue to use the unit dose dispensing system and 80% indicated they would likely continue to use the multi dose system — a finding researchers attribute to a majority of the cohort (86%) believing the multi dose system was the more environmentally friendly option. 

“Although environmental and ergonomic modifications can be made to reduce the frequency and intensity of [digital eye strain], implementing these modifications is potentially challenging, which places more emphasis on the role of artificial tears as a treatment,” according to the researchers. 

Study limitations include the inclusion of participants who were younger than the mean age of patients likely to be treated with artificial tears, the lack of a control group, and an inability to mask dispensing systems.

Disclosure: This research was supported by Alcon Research, LLC. Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 


Pucker AD, Lievens C, McGwin G Jr, Franklin QX, Logan A, Wolfe GS. Quality of life in digital device users who are treated with Systane Hydration PFClin Optom. Published online March 7, 2023. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S398496

This article originally appeared on Optometry Advisor