Xerophthalmia is a medical condition in which the eye fails to produce tears. It may be caused by a deficiency in vitamin A and is sometimes used to describe that lack, although there may be other causes. Xerophthalmia caused by a severe vitamin A deficiency is described by pathologic dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea. The conjunctiva becomes dry, thick and wrinkled. Xerophthalmia is a term that usually implies a destructive dryness of the conjunctival epithelium due to dietary vitamin A deficiency or a rare condition in developed countries, but still causing much damage in developing countries. Other forms of dry eye are associated with aging, poor lid closure, scarring from previous injury, or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sj�gren's syndrome, and these can all cause chronic conjunctivitis. Radioiodine therapy can also induce xerophthalmia, often transiently, although in some patients late onset or persistent xerophthalmia has been observed.
Persistent dryness, scratchiness, red eyes and a burning sensation are common symptoms of dry eyes. stinging or burning of the eye, a sandy or gritty feeling as if something is in the eye, episodes of excess tears following very dry eye periods, a stringy discharge from the eye, pain and redness of the eye, episodes of blurred vision, heavy eyelids, inability to cry when emotionally stressed, uncomfortable contact lenses, decreased tolerance of reading, working on the computer, or any activity that requires sustained visual attention, eye fatigue.