Dry eye syndrome (DES) is characterized by dehydration of the eyeball and eyelids. If there is not enough moisture in the eye, a person may suffer from a burning sensation and can see worse. The cornea and conjunctiva are occasionally damaged and become infected. Dry eye syndrome seems to be a harmless inconvenience, but it can affect vision over time.

Cause

The cornea is the transparent anterior part of the eye, in front of the iris and the pupil. The conjunctiva is a thin layer of tissue that covers the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. In order to protect the cornea from dehydration, the lacrimal glands produce lacrimal fluid. By blinking, the eyelids distribute the lacrimal fluid over the eye.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by not properly functioning of the lacrimal gland and thus producing less lacrimal fluid. In case of dry eyes, the tear production is in quantity or composition not sufficient to protect the eye. There may also be an increased evaporation of lacrimal fluid. Several underlying causes are possible:

Symptoms

In case of dry eyes, someone has the following signs and symptoms:

Particularly in a dry environment, a person can suffer from the eyes. Dry eye syndrome raises the risk of eye infections.

Diagnosis

In most cases, an ophthalmologist can identify the cause of dry eye syndrome and then provide the right treatment. The ophthalmologist can perform two tests by himself:

A patient can also be referred to another specialist, such as an internist or rheumatologist, for further investigation into the possible underlying cause.

Treatment

Dry eye syndrome may be treated as follows:

Prognosis

Dry eye syndrome is in many cases a chronic condition. This means that the symptoms often remain present to any extent and in varying severity.

Considerations

Facts