Patient's Complete Guide to Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Overview of Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Dry Eye Syndrome or Dry Eye Disease (خشک آنکھ) is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Dry eye also happens when not enough tears are produced or when the eyes do not make the right type of tears.

Lack of sufficient tears can lead to eye surface damage and inflammation. Dry eyes feel very uncomfortable. The tear film is important for a healthy eye and good vision. It has three layers, each layer serves its purpose.

  • An oily layer
  • A watery layer
  • A mucus layer

Other terms for dry eye include:

  • Keratitis Sicca: Cornea inflammation and dryness
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: Cornea and conjunctiva dryness of both eyes
  • Dysfunctional Tear Syndrome: inadequate quality and quantity of tears

Prevalence of Dry Eye

It is the most common eye condition affecting individuals globally. The prevalence of dry eye ranges from 5% to 50%. The prevalence of dry eye in Pakistan is 18.7 percent.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Signs and symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Stringy mucus in eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Can’t wear contact lenses
  • Nighttime driving is difficult

Causes of Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Dry eye is normally caused by a disruption in the tear film. Problems in any of the layers of tear film can cause dry eyes. This disruption can be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Hormonal changes
  • Inflamed eyelid glands

Causes of Decreased Tear Production and Increased Tear Evaporation

Causes of decreased tear production include:

  • Ageing
  • Certain medications including antihistamines
  • Certain medical conditions such as lupus and sarcoidosis
  • Nerve damage

Causes of increased tear evaporation include:

  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Eye allergies
  • Smog, smoke, dry air
  • Eyelid problems
  • Vit A Deficiency

Risk Factors of Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Factors that increase the risk of developing dry eye are:

  1. Old age
  2. Gender- Females are more to suffer from dry eye
  3. Collagen vascular disease
  4. Use of antihistamines
  5. Irradiation
  6. Vitamin A deficiency
  7. Medications
  8. Androgen deficiency
  9. Refractive surgery of cornea

Health Complications of Dry Eye

Untreated dry eye can lead to the following health complications:

  1. Corneal ulcers
  2. Difficulty or inability to read or drive
  3. Frequent headaches
  4. Difficulty in keeping eyes open
  5. Conjunctivitis
  6. Depression
  7. Psychological distress
  8. Anxiety
  9. Inferior complex

Prevention

Make sure to pay attention to the following preventive strategies to lessen the chances of dry eye:

  1. Do not direct the source of air into your eyes
  2. Make sure to take eye breaks during long and strenuous activities
  3. Remember to position your computer screen below your eye level
  4. Make sure to wear eye protection
  5. Try to use humidifiers in your homes
  6. Do not smoke and avoid passive smoke
  7. Make sure to use eyedrops

Diagnosis

A thorough eye exam is conducted and the following tests are performed:

  • Test to measure the volume of tears
  • Test to determine the quality of tears
  • Tear osmolarity test
  • Tear sample to look for markers of dry eye disease

Treatment of Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) | When to Consult a Doctor

For mild or occasional dry eye, eye drops are used. For a more persistent condition, other treatment methods are opted. The main purpose is to treat the underlying cause of dry eyes.

Medication is usually given in such circumstances including:

  • Eye drops to control cornea inflammation
  • Tear stimulating drugs
  • Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation
  • Autologous blood serum drops
  • Eye inserts that work like artificial tears

Other methods include:

  • Closing tear ducts partially or completely to reduce tear loss
  • Using special contact lenses designed for dry eye
  • Unblocking oil glands
  • Light therapy and eyelid massage

Dry eyes can take the form of a serious condition very quickly. In case any of the symptoms are seen, a doctor needs to be consulted immediately.

Speciality for Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

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