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Dry Eye

A syndrome characterized by dryness of the cornea and conjunctiva. It is usually caused by a deficiency in tear production. Symptoms include a feeling of burning eyes and a possible foreign body presence in the eye.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Dry Eye

Dry eye occurs when the quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. Experts estimate that dry eye affects millions of adults in the United States. The risk of developing dry eye increases with advancing age. Women have a higher prevalence of dry eye compared with men.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

Dry eye causes a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain, and redness in the eye. People with dry eye may also feel as if their eyelids are heavy and may experience blurred vision....Read more about Dry Eye
NIH - National Eye Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Efficacy of over the counter (OTC) artificial tears for dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a long‐term condition that is known to cause eye discomfort and visual disturbances like blurred vision. This condition affects millions of people around the world, and the first‐line treatment for dry eye is typically over the counter (OTC) artificial tears. OTC artificial tears are meant to replace or supplement the tears (fluid) that naturally cover the eye’s front surface (cornea and conjunctiva). There are a great number of commercially available artificial tears, yet there is currently no agreement about whether one formulation works better than another at treating dry eye. Our review attempts to bridge this knowledge gap.

Punctal plugs for dry eye syndrome

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to determine whether punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to block tear drainage, can treat dry eye syndrome. Cochrane review authors searched for all relevant studies and identified 18 clinical trials.

Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of sodium hyaluronate eye drops treating dry eye

Bibliographic details: Wei HL, Li ZZ, Li YF.  Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of sodium hyaluronate eye drops treating dry eye. Chinese Journal of Experimental Ophthalmology 2013; 31(5): 496-500 Available from: http://www.cjeo.org/Articles/Show.aspx?Mid=130515051323294&ID=898

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Summaries for consumers

Efficacy of over the counter (OTC) artificial tears for dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a long‐term condition that is known to cause eye discomfort and visual disturbances like blurred vision. This condition affects millions of people around the world, and the first‐line treatment for dry eye is typically over the counter (OTC) artificial tears. OTC artificial tears are meant to replace or supplement the tears (fluid) that naturally cover the eye’s front surface (cornea and conjunctiva). There are a great number of commercially available artificial tears, yet there is currently no agreement about whether one formulation works better than another at treating dry eye. Our review attempts to bridge this knowledge gap.

Punctal plugs for dry eye syndrome

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to determine whether punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to block tear drainage, can treat dry eye syndrome. Cochrane review authors searched for all relevant studies and identified 18 clinical trials.

Eye drops made from autologous serum as treatment for dry eye

We conducted this Cochrane review to find out whether autologous serum eye drops work as treatment for dry eye. Cochrane researchers searched for all relevant studies seeking an answer to this question and found five studies.

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Terms to know

Conjunctiva
A membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and also covers the front part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Cornea
The transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside.
Lacrimal Glands
A gland that secretes tears. The lacrimal glands are found in the upper, outer part of each eye socket.
Ophthalmologist
A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye problems, including injury and disease.
Punctal Plugs
A punctal plug (tear duct plug) is a small medical device that is inserted into the tear duct (puncta) of an eye to block the duct. This prevents the drainage of liquid from the eye. They are used to treat dry eye.

More about Dry Eye

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Dry eye syndrome, Tear film insufficiency, Gritty eye, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Other terms to know: See all 5
Conjunctiva, Cornea, Lacrimal Glands

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