PTSD and eye problems in veterans

Many soldiers who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also have undiagnosed chronic vision problems. This is according to two studies on veterans' care which were highlighted at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Opthalmology, which were conducted jointly with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Opthalmology with year.

According to the research conducted at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, veterans who have PTSD or depression are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome than whose who do not have these psychological conditions.

This visual impairment is a mild-to-severe condition that disrupts the tear glands' normal ability to moisten the eyeballs and former soldiers who had developed the illness were younger than typical dry eye patients in the civilian population.

Dr Anat Galor, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, commented: "It's crucial that health professionals who care for veterans with psychiatric diagnoses ask them about specific dry eye symptoms."

Chartered Psychologist Professor Rasjid Skinner comments:

"The correlation is intriguing. If the statistic is not a random finding, the obvious and simplest explanation is that given by the researchers - that it is an artefact of the sideeffect of medication  used to treat PTSD.

"Other possible explanations that suggests themselves from my own experience are that there is either a high level of co-morbid neural conditions resulting from the exposure to toxic substances associated with the Afghan and Iraqi theatres, or that neural conditions from the same cause are being misdiagnosed as PTSD.

"A perhaps rather arcane, but interesting, explanation for the correlation is that there is a psycho-dynamic link, paticularly in service personnel, between the suppression of emotion, which may be related to Delayed PTSD, and a psycho-somatic expression of this in dry eye syndrome."