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Study examines link between dry mouth and dry eyes

A Norwegian study of 65-year-olds has found that a relationship exists between dry eye and xerostomia symptoms. (Image: Ground Picture/Shutterstock)

OSLO, Norway: Though dry eye disease and xerostomia have both been studied extensively independently of each other, their relationship remains relatively unexplored. A recent study of 150 randomly selected 65-year-olds in Norway has, therefore, examined this link and found that a correlation exists between the two conditions.

Researchers from the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Dentistry and the Norwegian Dry Eye Clinic collaboratively carried out the cross-sectional study, which is part of a larger project—the OM65-study—that seeks to shine a light on the oral health of 65-year-olds in Norway. Potential study subjects were randomly chosen from the Norwegian tax registry and invited to participate in an initial examination. Of the 460 participants who attended this examination, only 150 took part in this sub-study owing to difficulties arising from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each participant then underwent subjective and objective dry eye assessments at the Norwegian Dry Eye Clinic. This involved several questionnaires and a clinical examination. Subsequently, the study subjects were orally examined at the research clinic at the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Dentistry and asked to complete an additional questionnaire on the frequency of the oral dryness they experienced. Each participant’s xerogenic medication intakes and histories of systemic disease were also recorded.

According to the study authors, a significant positive correlation was found between dry eye and xerostomia symptoms among the study’s participants. Through examinations, the two conditions were demonstrated to coexist pathologically in 4% of the study’s subjects, whereas those with current or former systemic diseases were very likely to experience symptoms of dry eye disease and xerostomia. The authors also noted that “there was a significant correlation between ocular and oral symptoms and the number of drugs/xerogenic drugs” used.

“The presence of significantly more severe ocular and oral symptoms and oral objective findings in the participants with current or previous systemic diseases calls for increased awareness and an interdisciplinary approach,” the authors concluded.

The study, titled “The relationship between ocular and oral dryness in a cohort from the 65-year-old population in Norway”, was published online on 13 June 2022 in Scientific Reports.

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