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Definition of Xerophthalmia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Xerophthalmia: Dry eyes. Xerophthalmia can be associated with systemic diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis; deficiency of vitamin A; and use of some medications. It results from inadequate function of the lacrimal glands, which produce tears. When xerophthalmia is due to vitamin A deficiency, the condition begins with night blindness and conjunctival xerosis (dryness of the eye membranes), progresses to corneal xerosis (dryness of the cornea), and in its late stages develops into keratomalacia (softening of the cornea). Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and ranges from artificial tears and ointments to plugging of the tear ducts. Also known as conjunctivitis arida.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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