Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is one of the most common ocular conditions. It affects 15-20% of the adult population in the U.S. Although usually mild in severity, even minimal dry eye disease can significantly affect patient comfort and vision. Despite greater understanding of tear film production, the underlying cause of dry eyes is often unknown. However, various therapeutic modalities are available to give the patient some relief from chronic ocular problems.
Signs and Symptoms: Ocular irritation is one of the earliest symptoms a patient with dry eye may experience. Classically, the patient describes a sandy, gritty, foreign-body sensation, in one or both eyes, that often becomes more pronounced as the day progresses. Some patients may note a more severe "burning" sensation in the eye when exposed to particularly dry or irritating environments, such as dry heat, warm or smoke-filled rooms, and wind. Sensitivity to light may also be reported.
Although there is no cure for dry eye, your doctor can provide treatment to improve vision and relieve discomfort. Initial treatment may include artificial tear drops and eyelid cleansing techniques for at home. If these measures aren’t enough, the next steps may include prescription eyedrops or eye sprays, minor procedures to slow the drainage of tears from your eyes, temporary healing membranes for the eye surface,
or other more advanced treatments.