Woman rubbing eyes underneath her glasses

Dry Eye Syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis)

What is Dry Eye?

Dry Eye is a condition in which a person does not have enough tears to lubricate the eye. This can result from either a poor quantity of tears, or if tears are of a poor quality.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

People suffering from dry eye syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis) typically experience irritated, gritty, scratchy or burning eyes; the feeling like there is something in their eyes; excess watering; light sensitivity; or blurred vision. Symptoms may worsen while driving, reading, or looking at a computer screen because people tend to blink less during those activities.

Causes of Dry Eye and At-Risk Groups

  • Age: Many people over age 65 experience symptoms of dry eyes.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes (i.e. pregnancy, oral contraceptives or menopause).
  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce tear production.
  • Medical conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes and thyroid problems have an increased chance of developing dry eyes. Dry eyes resulting from some of these medical conditions tend to be more severe and can cause long-term vision problems.
  • Environmental conditions: Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation, as can driving long distances or using computer screens for long periods.

Treatment Options

  • Add tears: Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions.
  • Conserve tears: Using tiny silicone or gel-like plugs, the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain can be blocked.
  • Increase tear production: There are prescription eye drops that increase tear production.
  • Treating eyelid or ocular surface inflammation: Prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.

If there is ever a change in vision, pain or severe redness, you should see your eye doctor.

Sources:
http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye?sso=y
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/08/treating-dry-eyes-nothing-to-cry-about/
http://www.refreshbrand.com/dryeye/dry-item
http://www.dryeyedisease.ca/quiz/ (all websites last accessed 8/1/2016)