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Alternative Names Return to topKeratitis sicca; Xerophthalmia; Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
Definition Return to top
Dry eye syndrome is when the tear glands produce fewer tears.
Causes Return to top
Dry eye syndrome often occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. It is more common with older age, because you produce fewer tears with age.
In rare cases, it can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, and other similar diseases. It may also be caused by heat (thermal) or chemical burns.
In areas of the world where malnutrition is common, vitamin A deficiency is a cause. This is rare in the United States.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatments may include:
Surgery may be used if the eyelids are in an abnormal position.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most patients with dry eye have only discomfort, and no vision loss. With severe cases, the clear window on the front of the eye (cornea) may become damaged or infected.
Possible Complications Return to top
Ulcers or infections of the cornea are serious complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
See your health care provider immediately if you have dry eyes and have:
Prevention Return to top
There is no way to prevent dry eye syndrome. You can prevent complications by using wetting and lubricating drops and ointments.Update Date: 10/6/2008 Updated by: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.