Pronounced: Kera-to-con-JUNK-tiv-eye-tis sick-ah
Keratoconjunctivitis is a condition in which the the membranes on the surface of the eye known as the conjunctiva become red and inflamed. The most common form of this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This occurs when the surface of the eye becomes dry due to a lack of quality tears.
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There are two main reasons that keratoconjunctivitis sicca occurs. The first is that the eye no longer makes enough tears to keep the surface moist, and the front surface of the eye dries out. Alternatively, the eye does make enough tears, but they evaporate too quickly. In this case, the tears produced are of poor quality and are unable to coat the surface of the eye.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is more common in females. Factors that may increase your chance of developing keratoconjunctivitis sicca include:
The main symptom of keratoconjunctivitis sicca is discomfort in the eye. This soreness can range from mild to severe. Some other symptoms of keratoconjunctivitis sicca include:
Most cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca cause only discomfort. However, in severe cases, the dryness in the eye can lead to damage to the cornea. If this occurs, it is possible that vision may be permanently lost.
Most of the time, the diagnosis of keratoconjunctivitis sicca is made by an eye specialist. An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in diseases and disorders of the eye. The cause of the discomfort can be determined using specialized equipment to view the surface of the eye.
These special tests may include:
Treatment for keratoconjunctivitis sicca is often simple and effective. This involves keeping the eye moist and preserving the tears that are made naturally. Treatment methods used include:
It is not possible to prevent keratoconjunctivitis sicca. It is possible to prevent complications of keratoconjunctivitis sicca, such as infections, from developing. To help reduce your chance that the condition will worsen, take the following steps:
Most cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca are not serious, and while uncomfortable and irritating, pose no real danger to the eye. However, it is still important to receive evaluation and diagnosis to prevent any of the more dangerous consequences of this condition.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Optometric Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Dry eye. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 17, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2013.
Foulks GN. The evolving treatment of dry eye. Ophthal Clin N Am. 2003;16:23-35.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Eric L. Berman, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
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