Results of new Johnson & Johnson Vision study released at the 34th Congress of the APAO reveals most Thais suffering from MGD symptoms do not seek professional help

A new survey conducted by Johnson & Johnson Vision has revealed that eight in 10 Thais regularly* suffer from symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), a leading cause for Dry Eye Disease (DED)**. However, 79% of Thais are unfamiliar with MGD, and a majority (69%) choose not to seek professional help, putting their eyesight at risk.

The results of the online survey***, which polled over 1,000 Thais, were released at the recent 34th Congress of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) which is being held in Bangkok from 6 to 9 March 2019. The Johnson and Johnson Vision team is there to showcase their latest technologies and lead conversations in the world of ophthalmology.

Majority of Thais do not know they suffer from MGD

MGD is a leading cause of DED, which affects more than 340 million people around the world. However, many cases go undetected because of the lack of awareness around MGD and what its symptoms are.

MGD is a chronic, progressive and obstructive condition that can affect both the structure and the function of the oil glands in the eyelids. The oils are necessary for protecting the tears from pathogens, allergens and evaporation. Without proper functioning meibomian glands, patients may face eye discomfort, inflammation, fluctuating vision and be at risk for developing dry eye.

Symptoms most commonly experienced by Thais were a burning sensation in the eye (48%) and soreness (48%). Respondents also reported feeling grittiness, the feeling of having dust in your eye (34%). These symptoms along with dryness and excessive watering may all be symptoms of MGD. Nearly half (49%) of MGD symptom sufferers reported experiencing their symptoms after prolonged exposure to digital screens. Notably, the study also found that greater levels of exposure to air-conditioned environments were also a contributing factor to experiencing MGD symptoms.

However, due to the lack of awareness around the disease, Thais do not recognise their risk.

“Symptoms may start off as little more than mild irritation. However, as most Thais are not aware of MGD, these symptoms are left unchecked,” said Dr Nattawut Wanumkarng, Director of At Eye Clinic and Ophthalmologist at Bumrungrad International . “If left untreated, symptoms may become increasingly severe and can impact an individual’s well-being as well as put their vision at risk.”

Treatment for MGD Symptoms

When asked how Thais treat their symptoms, the most common self-care treatments were to limit the amount of screen time (42%) or to use store-bought eyedrops (33%). These methods offer temporary relief from symptoms but do not treat the primary cause of MGD – blocked meibomian glands. Only 27% of sufferers sought professional advice or treatment from an expert such as a pharmacist or eyecare professional.

Of the respondents who reported turning to self-care methods for relief of symptoms that could be related to MGD, only about 17% reported finding them highly effective. On the other hand, a third of patients who chose to seek professional help for their symptoms reported finding their treatment as highly effective.

“Our eyesight is the most precious of our senses. However, it is threatened by conditions and diseases such as MGD, which is a leading cause of Dry Eye Disease. MGD has been found to be twice as prevalent in Asians, posing a real threat to our sight,” said Mr Christoph Vonwiller , Regional Vice President, Surgical Vision, Asia-Pacific and Japan, at Johnson and Johnson Vision.
“Johnson and Johnson Vision’s aim is to change the trajectory of eye health, and our hope in sharing the results from the survey at the APAO is to raise the public’s understanding of MGD, and equip the Thais with knowledge they need to protect their sight,” added Mr Vonwiller.
Patients seeking professional help are diagnosed by eye doctors to assess frequency and severity of symptoms, as well as help track progression over time.

The doctors may then recommend treatments, depending on the patient condition and potential co-existing illnesses. Some of the treatments that can be administered in the Doctor’s clinic include:

• Vectored Thermal pulsation: Meibomian glands function is improved by liquifying the gland contents and gently and simultaneously evacuating the liquified contents out of the glands.
• Other in office treatments such as Meibomian Gland probing: The main ducts of the meibomian gland are pierced using a surgical instrument.

Doctors may also recommend home treatments in combination with or prior to prescribing in-office treatments. Some of them include:

• Daily or twice daily application of warm compress and/or eyelid hygiene
• Omega-3 supplements
• Eye drops to manage inflammation

“Patients are advised to have their eye health checked as part of their routine checkups to lower their risk of eye disease,” said Dr Nattawut. “With eye conditions such as MGD, advancements in medical technology have made diagnosis and treatment immensely efficient. In fact, through proper advice and care from an eyecare professional, patients can experience relief from symptoms like eye discomfort and dry eye.”

MGD is Prevalent in Asia

MGD has been found to be highly prevalent in Asian countries reporting an incidence rate of between 46% to 70%. The high prevalence rate of MGD is a cause for concern, considering that it is the leading cause of DED.

To find out if you are at risk of MGD and understand more about the disease and treatment options available, visit http://dryeyes.vision/.

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Johnson & Johnson Vision
At Johnson & Johnson Vision, part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies*, we have a bold ambition: to change the trajectory of eye health around the world. Through our operating companies, we deliver innovation that enables eye care professionals to create better outcomes for patients throughout their lives, with products and technologies that address unmet needs including refractive error, cataracts and dry eye. In communities with greatest need, we work in collaboration to expand access to quality eye care, and we are committed to helping people see better, connect better and live better. Visit us at www.jjvision.com. Follow @JNJVision on Twitter and Johnson & Johnson Vision on LinkedIn.