Dealing with dry eye disease in general practice
CITATION: Smith, D. 2012. Dealing with dry eye disease in general practice. South African Family Practice, 54(1):14-18.
The original publication is available at http://www.safpj.co.za
Dry eye disease (DED) is a very common condition with significant morbitity. It is under-diagnosed by healthcare practitioners, since the presenting symptoms are often non-specific or misleading, and clinical signs may be subtle, or absent. To help overcome this problem, validated symptom questionnaires have been developed to aid the diagnosis, and grading of severity, of DED. Recent advances in the understanding of the multifactorial aetiology of this condition have also permitted the development of modalities aimed at treating specific underlying causes, rather than merely alleviating symptoms. An awareness of the causes and risk factors involved in this disease will assist the family practitioner in recommending lifestyle and dietary changes that, on their own, may provide sufferers with considerable symptomatic relief. A better understanding of the pathophysiology will, in turn, allow the family practitioner to make informed choices when prescribing initial treatment, and also guide the practitioner to know when to refer a patient for specialist management.