Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.Its consequences range from subtle but constant irritation to inflammation of the anterior (front) tissues of the eye.
Dry eyes also are described by the medical term, keratitis sicca, which generally means decreased quality or quantity of tears. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca refers to eye dryness affecting both the cornea and the conjunctiva.
Persistent dryness, scratchiness, red eyes and a burning sensation are common symptoms of dry eyes. Another symptom of dry eyes is a "foreign body sensation," which is a feeling that something is in your eye
Depending on the causes of dry eye, your doctor may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms.Dry eye can be managed as an ongoing condition. The first priority is to determine if a disease is the underlying cause of the dry eye. If it is, then the underlying disease needs to be treated. Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medication, is the only prescription drug available to treat dry eye. It decreases corneal damage, increases basic tear production, and reduces symptoms of dry eye. It may take three to six months of twice-a-day dosages for the medication to work. In some cases of severe dry eye, short term use of corticosteroid eye drops that decrease inflammation is required. If dry eye results from taking a medication, your doctor may recommend switching to a medication that does not cause the dry eye side effect. If contact lens wear is the problem, your eye care practitioner may recommend another type of lens or reducing the number of hours you wear your lenses. In the case of severe dry eye, your eye care professional may advise you not to wear contact lenses at all.
The estimated prevalence of dry eye syndrome among patients reporting to ophthalmologists was less than 0.1%. The total annual healthcare cost of 1,000 dry eye syndrome sufferers managed by ophthalmologists ranged from US $0.27 million (95% CI: $0.20; US $0.38 million) in France to US $1.10 million (95% CI: US $0.70; US $1.50 million) in the UK. A large proportion of dry eye patients either self-treat or are managed by their general practitioner.