Munson Health
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

Back to Document

by Borowski M

(Keratitis Sicca; Dry Eye Syndrome)



Treatment for keratoconjunctivitis sicca is often simple and effective. This involves keeping the eye moist and preserving the tears that are made naturally. Treatment methods used include:
  • Lubricating eye drops—Lubricating eye drops, which are also known as artificial tears, mimic the eyes natural tears. These eye drops are available over-the-counter. They provide relief from the discomfort caused by keratoconjunctivitis sicca and help maintain the natural moistness of the eye.
  • Lubricating ointments—Lubricating ointments are similar to artificial tears, except they have a much thicker consistency and last longer than eye drops. They are used to provide moisture for more severe cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca. However, because of the thick texture, the drops may cause vision to be blurry. For this reason, they are usually used at night, before bedtime.
  • Punctal plugs—In some cases, it may be helpful to place a tiny plug called a punctal plug in the tear drainage ducts on the eyelids. These devices help the tears that are produced naturally to remain on the surface of the eye longer. The ophthalmologist can insert the plug in the office. It is a quick and painless procedure. Often, your doctor will try placing temporary plugs to make sure they work well for you before placing permanent ones. However, even permanent ones can be removed if necessary. Your doctor may also choose to permanently close your tear drainage hole with a laser or cautery.
  • Prescription eye drops—Cyclosporine eye drops are occasionally used to help your eye make more tears. This is a prescription medication that must be taken twice per day, every day. It usually takes several weeks to months to notice an improvement.
  • Oral nutritional supplements—Some studies support supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients to help patients with dry eyes.


The American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Optometric Association



Canadian Association of Optometrists

Canadian Ophthalmological Society



Dry eye. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 17, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2013.

Foulks GN. The evolving treatment of dry eye. Ophthal Clin N Am. 2003;16:23-35.


Revision Information