Dry eye is an eye condition known as keratitis sicca. A stinging, burning, and scratchy feeling of the eyes characterize it. Vision can be subsequently blurred when flare-ups occur. The most common cause of dry eye is a change in the tear chemistry of the eye. Two types of tears are produced - lubricating tears are the type which keep eyes moist and comfortable, while reflex tears are the type which are produced secondarily when a person is emotional or in pain. Dry eye is typically a deficiency of the lubricating tear type which then triggers the reflex tears to be secreted but this tear type is poorer in moisturizing qualities. Glands located in the eyelids are constantly producing tears. Risk factors for dry eye are:
- Women over 40
- Low humidity conditions
- Eyelid problems
- Contact lens use
An eye doctor will use a microscope to examine the tear film on the eye. Special eyedrop dyes are employed to help the doctor to detect dry spots, measure tear quality and volume then make a diagnosis. Treatment of dry eye includes certain over-the-counter eyedrops, eyelid hygiene methods, prescription eyedrops including mild steroids, dissolving tear implants, and punctal plugs. Eye infection risk is greater when a dry eye condition is not properly managed.