Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

What is keratoconjunctivitis sicca?

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a common condition which is also known as dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome can occur when less tears are produced than normal, if the tears don't spread effectively over the eye, or if the tears dry too quickly. Some cases of dry eye syndrome may occur as a result of another medical condition or due to medication use. There also may be no obvious cause in others. This condition is more common in older people. People with this condition may have dry, gritty, red eyes and blurry vision. Dry eyes are treated by using lubricating eye drops and by finding and treating the cause of their condition. Avoiding dry air, wind and wearing glasses or goggles can help to reduce the symptoms of this condition. Many people with dry eyes can treat the cause of their symptoms, or, if the cause can't be corrected, can learn to manage their symptoms.

Risks

The eye is usually covered with a thin layer of tears which act to protect the eye from particles in the air. Dry eye syndrome can occur when less tears are produced than normal, if the tears don't spread effectively over the eye, or if the tears dry too quickly. There are many causes. Some medical conditions cause dry eyes, such as diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis and amyloidosis. Exposure to dry air or wind can also cause dry eyes. Many women find that changing hormone levels when taking the (oral contraceptive) pill or during the menopause cause them to have dry eyes. Lastly, some common medications can cause dry eyes, such as some blood pressure medications, antihistamine medications and some antidepressant medications. This condition becomes more common with age.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome are a gritty sensation in the eye, itching eyes, blurred vision, reddening of the eyes and eyes which are sensitive to light. This may affect one eye or both eyes. People with dry eyes may feel that their eyes feel tired after long periods of writing or computer work.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by examining the surface of the eye and by testing the amount of tears produced in a given time. The test to measure tear production involves placing a strip of paper along the bottom eyelid to absorb and measure the tears over a given time.

Treatment

The treatment of dry eye syndrome involves treating the symptoms and treating the underlying condition. Lubricating eye drops can be helpful to reduce the gritty, irritated feeling. Avoiding smoke, dust, dry air and eye make-up can also be helpful. People who wear contact lenses should get advice from their doctor or optometrist about whether they should avoid these. If an underlying disease is responsible for the symptoms, managing this can improve the symptoms.

Prevention

Avoiding dry air and windy conditions may help prevent symptoms of dry eye. Sunglasses or goggles may also be helpful to protect the eyes in people who have persistently dry eyes.

Other names for keratoconjunctivitis sicca

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Keratitis sicca