A dry eye is one of decreased or deficient tears. It is referred to as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca. It is usually mild but can be severe.
This deficiency of tears gives rise to irritation of the eyes.
Often there is a burning or gritty feeling and discomfort of the eyes.
There may be episodes of excessive tearing, mucus discharge or blurred vision.
In severe cases there can be damage to the cornea and corneal scarring.
This condition can arise from decreased formation of tears, poor quality tears or excessive loss of tears. These can be caused by:
- The natural aging process and menopause
- Disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Certain medications
- Eye disorders such as eyelid inflammation
- A dry environment, wind, smoke and air conditioning
Once a general or eye disease is excluded as a cause and treated, the most common form of treatment for dry eyes are artificial tears drops, gels or ointments. In more severe cases the tears can be preserved by using small plugs to block the tear outflow tubes. The type of treatment and how often it is used depends on each case.