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Dry eye disease: identification and therapeutic strategies for primary care clinicians and clinical specialists.

Annals of Medicine 2023 December
Dry eye disease (DED) is a multifactorial disorder characterized by loss of tear film homeostasis with an estimated worldwide prevalence of 5% to 50%. In DED, dysfunction of the ocular structures that create and regulate the tear film components-including the lacrimal glands, meibomian glands, cornea, and conjunctiva-causes a qualitative and/or quantitative tear deficiency with resultant tear film instability and hyperosmolarity. This initiates a vicious cycle of ocular surface inflammation and damage that may ultimately impair the quality of life and vision of affected patients. Many factors can contribute to the development of DED, including ocular and systemic diseases, topical and systemic medications, and environmental conditions. Because DED is a chronic disorder, treatment is most often long term and may utilize both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions to address all etiologic components. The long-term management of DED can be challenging and most often should involve eye care specialist referral. However, primary care clinicians (PCCs) are often the first points of contact for patients with DED and importantly provide initial diagnosis and preliminary patient education about the disease process. Consideration of DED is also vital for the practice of various specialties due to the large number of comorbidities and medications that can contribute to DED pathogenesis and progression. Therefore, it is important that PCCs and clinical specialists be aware of the etiology of DED and its available therapeutic options. This manuscript provides an overview of DED pathophysiology and treatment and discusses specific considerations regarding DED management for PCCs and clinical specialists.Key messagesSuccessful management of dry eye disease often requires the use of various pharmacologic and/or nonpharmacologic therapies, as well as environmental and lifestyle modifications, to mitigate the underlying etiologies and restore tear film homeostasis.Primary care clinicians play an essential role in dry eye disease management by establishing a diagnosis, educating patients about the disorder, and providing referrals to eye care specialists for initiation of specialized treatment and long-term follow-up.Primary care clinicians and clinical specialists should consider prescribing medications with fewer ocular surface effects whenever possible in patients at risk for or with existing dry eye disease.

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