What is Chronic Dry Eye?
Chronic dry eye, sometimes called dry eye disease, is known by the scientific name keratoconjunctivitis sicca. It is a common condition that can result in localized inflammation of both the eye surface as well as the tear-producing glands. Over time, inflammation can decrease the eye’s ability to produce tears that protect the surface and keep it moist and lubricated. This, in turn, can lead to damage to the eye’s surface. If left untreated, severe forms of the condition can lead to more serious problems, including increased risk of infection and possibly vision impairment.
- Chronic dry eye may be caused by a decreased ability to produce tears, which are needed to protect the surface of the eye.
- Chronic dry eye affects millions of Americans.
- Up to 25% of all visits to eye care professionals are due to dry eye, making it one of the most common complaints seen by eye care professionals.
How is Chronic Dry Eye Diagnosed?
Patients may present with eyes that feel dry, or they may state that they are using artificial tears frequently throughout the day. Your doctor may perform one or more of these tests:
- Schirmer’s test is performed by placing filter paper inside the lower lid of the eye. After a few minutes, the paper is removed and tested for moisture content.
- Tear break-up time (the amount of time a tear maintains a coat over the eye) can be measured with or without fluorescein stain.
- Surface eye staining with either rose Bengal, Lissamine green, or fluorescein dyes will stain the damaged area of the ocular surface.
Treatment of Chronic Dry Eye
There are a number of treatment options for patients experiencing chronic dry eye including:
- Artificial tears
- Occlusion of tear outflow
- Oral supplements
- Serum tears