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, not adequately coating the surface of the eye.
Almost anyone can experience this condition; in fact, most of the time, people with keratoconjunctivitis sicca are otherwise healthy. However, the following factors may increase your chance of developing keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
- Increasing age—The normal production of tears decreases as we age, so it is common for older and elderly patients to have some degree of dryness in their eyes.
- Some chronic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome
Certain medications which can cause excessive dryness, such as:
- Though very rare in the US and most developed countries, a deficiency in vitamin A may contribute to the development of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (and other serious eye problems).
- Laser vision correction surgery, such as LASIK
- Women have an increased risk of developing dry eyes.
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