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Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition in which tear production is inadequate. It most commonly occurs in women between 50 and 60 years of age.


Three primary causes are

  • Lacrimal gland malfunction
  • Mucin deficiency
  • Mechanical abnormalities

The lacrimal gland can be genetically malformed or malformed because of injury or infection. Tear production is also decreased in Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that commonly accompanies rheumatoid arthritis. Facial nerve palsy disrupts tear production. Mechanical abnormalities include problems with eyelid structure, eyeball extrusion, and miss-use of contact lenses. Conjunctivitis and mumps can obstruct the gland. Some medications such as antihistamines, atropine, and beta-adreneergic blocking agents, decrease tear production.


Manifestations include burning, itching eyes and a sensation of “something” in the eye. The term keratoconjunctivitis sicca is used to describe the problem.


Management includes determining the degree of injury to the cornea. Artificial tears (eyedrops and lubricants) can be used. In addition, some clients benefit from using airtight goggles at night to prevent tear evaporation. Postmenopausal women have found some relief from estrogen replacement therapy. Surgery can be used to open the lacrimal duct or to repair lid problems.