Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome, (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.



The term “dry eye” can be confusing as one of the most common symptoms is the excessive production of tears. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to light, blurred vision, scratchiness, a burning sensation or discomfort in dry windy conditions, and a “foreign body sensation” – the feeling that something is in the eye.

Dry eye syndrome can lead to minor irritation, inability to wear contact lenses, and an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.



In dry eye syndrome, the tear glands that moisturize the eye either don’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.

Dry eye syndrome can be caused by:

  • The natural aging process including the hormonal changes associated with menopause
  • Reading, using a computer or watching TV
  • Hot, dry or windy conditions with low humidity including air conditioning or a dry heating system
  • Long-term contact lens wear
  • Some diseases, including Sjogren’s Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and diabetes
  • Medications. Some medications have the side effect of dry eye These include some high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, diuretics, birth control pills, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills, pain medications, some cold and allergy products, motion sickness remedies, and sleep aids
  • Incomplete closure of the eyelids or eyelid disease
  • A deficiency of the tear-producing glands


Treatment for Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is a long-term condition. It is not usually cured but the symptoms can be successfully managed.

The most common treatment is lubricating eye drops in either a liquid, gel or ointment. These “artificial tears” can be used as often as required. You may need to try several different kinds to find the ones that suit you. Some contain preservatives and some do not.

Nutritional supplements that contain Omega 3 are also often recommended to reduce dry eye symptoms.

If an underlying condition such as meibomian gland dysfunction, is the cause of dry eye, your doctor may recommend eyelid hygiene techniques or antibiotics (see section on Blepharitis).

If medications are the cause of dry eyes, discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem. However, the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. Sometimes switching to a different type of medication alleviates the dry eye symptoms while keeping the needed treatment. Never switch or discontinue your medications without consulting with your doctor first.

Wraparound sunglasses can help reduce exposure to hot, dry, windy environments. Filters can be used inside to filter dust and particles out of the air and a humidifier can add moisture.

For more severe cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend punctal occlusion using punctal plugs. These tiny plugs are inserted into the ducts in your lids to keep the eyes moist by slowing the drainage of tears.