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Dry eye syndrome is an abnormality of the tear film. Patients with dry eye experience eye discomfort and/or visual symptoms and it may lead to eye surface disorders. Dry eye syndrome is fairly common in adults over the age of 40.
The most common symptoms are the sensation of sand (or other foreign body) in the eye, reddening, irritation, pain, burning and sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
The main causes of dry eye syndrome include:
Some drugs such as beta-blockers, antihistamines and antidepressants, or diseases such as diabetes, can result in dry eye symptoms.
A physical eye examination will detect changes in the conjunctiva and the tear film. In addition, tests can be performed, examples include:
The treatment of this condition is based on lubricant eye drops. In addition, it is fundamental to treat any underlying conditions (eye-related or not), to review systemic drug treatments which may cause eye dryness, and to make any necessary lifestyle changes, particularly related to diet and smoking.
Finally, it is useful to advise patients on how to reduce eye strain, such as blinking frequently, changing focus from near vision to distance vision, taking regular short breaks, checking ambient light, eliminating sources of reflected glare and regulating humidity and ventilation.
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