“Dry eye syndrome” is a catch-all term often used by eye doctors to describe a group of ocular surface disorders that cause a similar list of symptoms. As the name implies, the primary symptom of these conditions is a dry, irritated, scratchy sensation in the eyes. Other symptoms, detailed below, will vary with the specific disorder causing the problem, and therefore a correct diagnosis is important in order to arrive at the proper treatment plan.

The term ‘dry eye syndrome’ also might lead some to think of these conditions as insignificant and unworthy of serious attention. And while many cases of dry eye are relatively benign and straightforward to manage, many others cause symptoms that are severe and defy simple treatments. Patients may suffer from moderate to severe pain, blurred to extremely poor vision, and even ulceration and scarring of the cornea leading to permanent vision loss. Again, proper diagnosis is critical so that treatment can be tailored to the specific issues, avoiding long-term suffering and complications.

The Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) is a scale which was developed by a number of ocular surface disease experts as a means of helping patients and physicians evaluate the severity of dry eye syndrome and the impact of its symptoms on the patient’s lifestyle. By completing the index and bringing it with you to your next appointment, you will help your eye doctor better evaluate and treat your condition. The OSDI can be downloaded by clicking here.

The remainder of this article will describe the different conditions leading to dry eye, the associated symptoms, methods of diagnosis, and treatment options.