What’s dry eye syndrome? What can cause dry eye syndrome?

MNT Knowledge Center

Dry eye syndrome, also referred to as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), keratitis sicca, sicca syndrome, xerophthalmia, or just dry eyes, is definitely an eye disease by which tear film evaporation is high or tear production is low. Dry eye syndrome is generally present in humans and a few creatures. A person’s eyes dry up and be inflamed.

Based on the Nhs (NHS), United kingdom, roughly between 17% and 30% of individuals have dry eyes at some point within their existence.

Our eyes are creating tears constantly, not only whenever we cry or notice a sudden hurry of emotion or after yawning. Healthy eyes are engrossed in a fluid constantly, referred to as a tear film, which is made to remain stable in between each blink. A reliable tear film prevents your eyes from blow drying, and keeps your eyes obvious, with comfortable vision.

When the tear glands create a lower volume of tears, the tear film may become destabilized. The tear film can break lower rapidly, creating dry spots on the top of eyes.

Dry eye syndrome can happen at all ages, as well as in those who are otherwise healthy. It’s more prevalent with older age, once the individual produces less tears. In certain parts around the globe, where lack of nutrition produces a vit a deficiency, dry eye syndrome is a lot more common.

What are the signs and symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

An indicator is one thing the individual feels and reviews, while an indication is one thing others, together with a physician or nurse may identify. For instance, discomfort can be a symptom while a rash can be a sign.

Someone with dry eye syndrome might have the next signs and signs and symptoms:

  • A stinging sensation within the eyes
  • A burning sensation within the eyes
  • Sense of dryness within the eyes
  • Sense of grittiness and soreness within the eyes
  • Stringy mucus around or in your eyes
  • Eye sensitivity to smoke
  • Eye sensitivity to wind (eyes water more within the wind)
  • Redness from the eyes
  • Eye fatigue, despite studying for any relatively short time
  • Photophobia – sensitivity to light
  • Discomfort when putting on contact contacts
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision – usually worse for the finish during the day
  • Double vision
  • Eye lids stick together when getting out of bed

Complications of dry eye syndrome might have the next signs and signs and symptoms:

  • Eye redness worsens
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity) worsens
  • Eyes become more painful
  • Eyesight deteriorates

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

There are other to the tears than merely water. Tears are constructed with water, fatty oils, protein, electrolytes, substances to battle off bacteria, and growth factors. Tears are constructed with a combination that can help keep your the surface of our eyes smooth and obvious. Without tears we can’t see correctly.

In some instances dry eyes are caused by an imbalance within the tear mixture, during others insufficient tears are created for that needs of excellent eye health. Other reasons for dry eye syndrome include eye lid problems, some drugs, and ecological factors.

    • Tear quality – the tear film has three layers – oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers are not right, the patient may develop dry eye symptoms.


  • Oil (the top layer) – this oil is created through the meibomian glands, situated around the fringe of the eye lids. They produce fats (fatty oils). The oil smoothes the tear surface in addition to slowing down lower the speed of evaporation. When oil levels aren’t right the tears may evaporate too quickly. If your patient’s meibomian glands are blocked (clogged) the probability of developing dry eyes is a lot greater. Patients with blepharitis (inflammation across the fringe of the eye lids), rosacea and a few other skin conditions possess a and the higher chances of getting clogged meibomian glands.



  • Water (the middle layer) – this is actually the thickest layer, featuring its water and a few salt. This layer is created through the lacrimal glands (tear glands). They cleanse your eyes and wash away contaminants and irritants. If the layer isn’t right the individual is prone to film instability. When the water layer is simply too thin the oil and mucus layers may touch one another, producing a stringy discharge – a hallmark manifestation of dry eyes.



  • Mucus (the inner layer) – this layer enables the tears to spread evenly within the surfaces from the eyes. When the mucus layer isn’t right, dry patches may develop around the cornea (the leading top of the eye).



  • Reduced tear production – we have a tendency to produce less tears after age 4 decades. When tear production lowers to some certain point, your eyes may become dry and simply inflammed and inflamed.


Dry eyes brought on by reduced tear production is much more common among women than males and particularly more prevalent among publish-menopausal women. Professionals state that it’s because hormonal changes.

Reduced tear production can also be associated with:

  • Inflammation
  • Radiation
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis). In such surgeries, the symptoms are usually temporary.
  • Eyelid problems – every time we blink our eye lids spread a skinny film of tears across the top of eyes. The majority of us blink about five occasions one minute. If your patient has an issue with their eye lids, the blinking motion which evenly propagates the tear film might be affected. Individuals with (eye lid turns outward) or entropion (eye lid turns inward) are good examples of eye lid problems. Inflammation across the fringe of the eye lids (blepharitis) might also cause dry eyes.



  • Medications – the next prescription and OTC (over-the-counter, non-prescription) medications might also cause dry eyes:
    • Some diuretics
    • ACE (Angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors
    • Antihistamines
    • Decongestants
    • Some sleeping pills
    • Birth control pills
    • Some antidepressants
    • Some acne drugs (isotretinoin-type medications)
    • Morphine and other opiate-based painkillers



The following may also cause dry eyes:

  • Sun
  • Wind
  • High altitude
  • A very dry climate
  • Hot blowing air
  • Very dry air (airplane cabin air)
  • Working in front of a computer monitor (may slow down blinking rate)
  • Driving a vehicle (may slow down blinking rate)
  • Reading (may slow down blinking rate)
  • Smoke
  • Contact lenses
  • Shingles
  • Bell’s palsy
  • HIV

The good examples above that are associated with a slowing down lower of blinking rate are often due to intense visual concentration.

What is the Lacrimal Functional Unit?

Doctors and a few other medical professionals make use of the term Lacrimal Functional Unit when mentioning to many parts of the body that actually work together within the production and regulating tears. They include:

    • The lacrimal gland – produces mainly water with a bit of salt. The main constituents of tears.


  • The meibomian gland – produces a fatty liquid which is the outer layer of the tear film. Holds the tears in place and slows down evaporation.



  • The eyelid – spreads tears evenly across the surface of the eye each time we blink.



  • The cornea – a clear layer at the front of the eye. It contains smaller glands which produce liquids that make up our tears.



  • The tear duct (lacrimal duct) – a small channel at the side of the eye that allows tears to run off into our nose.


Diagnosis of dry eye syndrome

Most Gps navigation (general practitioners, primary care doctors) can identify dry eye syndrome from signs, asking the individual about signs and symptoms and searching in the patient’s health background. The GP will have to understand what medications the individual is presently taking, in addition to info on their occupation and private conditions.

The GP may refer the individual for an eye doctor a doctor who’s licensed to supply primary eye care services. Using special products the eye doctor will have the ability to identify dry eye syndrome, along with other conditions and possible complications, and provide treatment advice.

The eye doctor may do a quantity of tests, including:

    • The Schirmer test – the goal here’s to look for the volume of tears behind the eye lid on the period of time. Small strips of blotting-paper-like material are put underneath the patient’s eye lid. A couple of minutes later they’re removed to determine how wet they’re.


  • The Rose Bengal test – a Royal Bengal (a liquid stain, dye) is dropped onto the top of eye. The red dye helps the eye doctor see whether the tear film is functioning correctly, in addition to calculating the speed of tear evaporation.


The individual might be known for an ophthalmologist if diagnosis is unclear, or maybe special tests and remedies are essential. An ophthalmologist is really a physician/surgeon who’s focused on illnesses and remedies of eye conditions and illnesses.

What are the treatment options for dry eye syndrome?

Strategy to dry eye syndrome is dependent on the majority of factors, the primary one being what’s the underlying cause. The goal would be to keep your eyes well lubricated.

    • Eyelid problems – when the patient has something physically wrong using the eye lid, or perhaps an incomplete blink that triggers dry eyes, the physician may refer him/her for an oculoplastic surgeon – a surgeon focused on eye lid problems.

      When the patient has blepharitis (inflammation from the eye lid) regular cleaning from the affected region having a dilute solution of baby shampoo might be suggested. The physician might also prescribe antibiotic drops or cream for evening use. The individual may alternatively be recommended an dental antibiotic, for example tetracycline or doxycycline.

  • Artificial tears – in mild dry eye cases the individual might find effective treatment by simply using OTC artificial tears. It is advisable to ask the physician which of them would be the most appropriate.


Eye drops without preservatives may be used when needed, as numerous occasions each day as you desire. Individuals with preservative will often have an optimum safe dosage of 4 occasions each day. Eye drops for getting rid of redness shouldn’t be used.

It might be smart to apply eye drops before activities that you simply know may exacerbate dry eye signs and symptoms.

Ointments are usually better for evening use, simply because they may blur vision.

  • Keeping tears around for longer -tear ductwork, which drain tears away, might be deliberately partly or completely blocked like a measure to save tears. Silicone plugs can be put within the tear ductwork to bar them – they assist keep the tears in your eyes for extended, in addition to any artificial tears are applying. 

    The physician may use a hot wire that decreases the tissue from the drainage area, which shuts the tear duct. This really is known as thermal cautery.

    Patients with severe signs and symptoms are more inclined to require silicone plugs, while individuals with mild signs and symptoms might find that simply using artificial tears work well.

  • Boston Scleral Lens – this contact lens rests on the sclera (the white part of the eye). It creates a fluid-filled layer over the cornea, preventing it from drying out.



  • Medications – patients with chronic dry eyes might be recommended cyclosporine (Restasis). Cyclosporine reduces eye-surface inflammation and triggers elevated manufacture of tears. Patients by having an eye infection, in addition to individuals with past herpes viral infection from the eye should avoid using this drug.


Steroid drops might help reduce inflammation for patients whose signs and symptoms remain severe, despite frequent utilization of eyedrops.

Some reports say that omega-3 essential fatty acid consumption might help lessen the risk and/or incidence of dry eyes.

  • Specialist eyewear – some patients take advantage of putting on moisture chamber spectacles1, which wrap about the eyes like goggles. The spectacles help retain moisture within the eyes, in addition to safeguarding them from wind along with other irritants. Moisture chamber spectacles are accepted they was once due to their current sporty designs. There used to be an unattractive design and were unpopular.
  • Salivary gland transplantation – this surgical treatment is just ever considered in persistent and severe cases that haven’t taken care of immediately other remedies. A few of the salivary glands are taken off the low lip and grafted, or put into along side it from the eyes. The saliva they produce becomes an alternative to tears.


Possible complications of dry eye syndrome

    • Ulceration of the cornea – inflammation linked to severe and untreated cases of dry eye syndrome can damage the surface of the cornea, leading to ulceration (scarring). The patient’s vision may become affected.


  • Conjunctivitis – most conjunctivitis caused by dry eye require no treatment. Sometimes, however, conjunctivitis can become chronic (long-term or recurring) and severe. In such cases the patient should see a health care professional.



  • Reflex tears – it is ironic that people with dry eye syndrome may sometimes produce too many tears. There are two types of tear production: 1. Basic tears; tears are produced at a slow and steady rate. 2. Reflex tears – tears are produced in large quantities in response to some irritant or emotion. Reflex tears have a much higher water content and a much lower mucus and oils content than do basic tears.


When our eyes are inflammed due to dryness, the lacrimal glands produce large amounts of reflex tears, which ton the tear ductwork, leading to overflowing eye lids. Since these tears possess a different constitute water, oils and mucus, in comparison to fundamental tears, they don’t help control dryness – they don’t help to keep the attention moist. So, the attention may react further and convey more reflex tears.

Most people with dry eye syndrome experience no lengthy-term problems or complications. Untreated dry eyes, particularly if signs and symptoms tend to be more than mild, may lead to eye inflammation, infection and harm to the top of cornea.

Prevention of dry eye syndrome

    • Keep the eyes clean – people with clean eyes are less likely to develop blepharitis. Use warm/hot (not boiling) water, dab some cotton wool into it, and gently clean your eyes. Massage your eye gently with a clean finger in a circular motion – this will help move the mucus from the eyelid glands.


  • Wind – wear wraparound glasses for protection from wind and hot air, which can cause dry eyes.



  • Computer monitor – the monitor should be just below eye level.



  • Avoid smoky places – if you smoke, give up. If you don’t, avoid places where people smoke.



  • Humidifier – a humidifier in the home will help moisten the air, which will help reduce the risk of dry eyes. Some people say that spraying curtains with a fine spray of water also helps keep the air humid.



  • Nutrition – evidence is starting to appear indicating that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent dry eye syndrome. Sources of omega-3 fats include salmon, trout, tuna, herring and sardines. If you are vegetarian/vegan, the following foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids: canola oil, English walnuts, flax oil, ground flax seed, hemp oil, hemp seed, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.