Dry, stinging eyes are very common, principally in middle-aged and older women. The problem is caused by reduced tear production, which in turn is caused by a defective tear film, thinner than normal. The tear glands may be affected by autoimmune inflammation in serious cases, such as in Sjögren syndrome, and the inflammation may affect the salivary glands (leading to dry mouth and poor dental health). It also usually leads to joint problems, tiredness, and dry skin. Certain medicines can lead to a reduction in tear production. Inflammatory changes in the edges of the eyelids may also lead to problems with dryness.
The most important treatment involves tear replacement methods (eyedrops, ointment, gel, possibly tablets). Many of these agents do not require a prescription. Blocking the lachrymal puncta with punctal plugs reduces the drainage of tears and may provide comfort. Stockholms Ögonklinik collaborates with rheumatologists and dentists in order to investigate, treat, and provide regular follow up for persons who are troubled by dry eyes, also known as “KCS” or “keratoconjunctivitis sicca”.