Also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, xerophthalmia, or dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by eye dryness due to decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. It can occur alone or in association with certain systemic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients with dry eye often complain of a foreign body sensation in the eye. Burning and gritty eye irritation often worsens as the day progresses. Other symptoms include itching, stinging, scratchiness, tired eyes, pain, redness, pressure, light sensitivity, or mucous discharge. Excess tearing can also occur secondary to chronic inflammation and irritation.
Many people with dry eyes have mild irritation and no long term effects. However, if the condition is left untreated or becomes severe, it can lead to eye damage and visual impairment. A wide variety of approaches are available for treatment including avoidance of exacerbating factors, tear stimulation and supplementation, increasing tear retention, eyelid cleansing, and treatment of ocular inflammation.