Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

(Keratitis Sicca; Dry Eye Syndrome; Dry Eye Disease)


Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea. The conjunctiva is the tissue that covers the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. The cornea is the clear front layer of the eye.

This condition is also called dry eye disease.

Inflamed Conjunctiva.

Nuclus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=72777277si1307.jpgsi1307.jpgNULLjpgsi1307.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si1307.jpgNULL12NULL2008-11-072683807277_102898Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Dry eye disease happens when the eyes:

  • Do not make enough tears
  • Make enough tears, but they evaporate quickly

These problems may be caused by:

Risk Factors

Dry eye disease is more common in women and older adults. The risk is also higher in people who have any of the causes listed above.


Problems from dry eyes are:

  • Feeling a burning, itching, or foreign body in the eyes
  • Eye redness and irritation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excess tears
  • Blurred vision
  • Problems wearing contact lenses


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. An eye doctor may examine and diagnose dry eye disease.

An eye exam will be done. Tests that may be done are:

  • Slit lamp exam—uses a light to look at the film of tears on the eyes
  • Fluorescein dye—looks for damaged areas of the eyes
  • Schirmer test—measures the amount of tears with a wick placed near the eyelids


Any underlying causes of dry eye disease will need to be treated. In others, the goal is to keep the eyes moist and stop the problem from getting worse. Options are:

  • Lifestyle changes—such as using a humidifier and avoiding tobacco smoke
  • Changing or stopping medicines that are causing problems
  • Medicines to:
    • Keep the eyes moist
    • Ease inflammation
    • Help the eyes make more tears

People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. A tiny plug may be placed in the tear ducts. This can help tears stay on the eyes longer.


There are no known guidelines to prevent dry eye disease.





  • Dry eye disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/dry-eye-disease.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/corneal-disorders/keratoconjunctivitis-sicca.
  • Thulasi P, Djalilian AR. Update in Current Diagnostics and Therapeutics of Dry Eye Disease. Ophthalmology. 2017;124(11S):S27-S33.
  • What is dry eye? Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.