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:
- The sensation of a foreign body in the eye
- Sensitivity to light (also called photophobia)
- Scratchiness in the eye
- Discomfort with contact lenses
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. He or she can quickly determine the cause of the discomfort by using specialized equipment to view the surface of the eye.
These special tests may include:
- Slit lamp visualization—The ophthalmologist may use a special light called a slit lamp (or biomicroscope) to look at the film of tears on the eye surface. The doctor can tell if there are not enough tears to keep the eye moist.
- Dye—The ophthalmologist may use a special dye (called fluorescein, rose Bengal, or lissamine green) to evaluate the health of the eye’s front surface.
- Schirmer’s test for dry eye—This test involves placing a small paper wick near the eyelid to measure the amount of tears that are made by the eye.
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