Introduction: based on data from the largest studies of dry eye to date - the Women's Health Study (WHS) and the Physicians' Health Study (PHS) - and other studies, it has been estimated that about 3.23 million women and 1.68 million men, for a total of 4.91 million Americans aged ≥ 50 years, have dry eye. Tens of millions more have less severe symptoms and probably a more episodic manifestation of the disease that is notable only during contact with some adverse contributing factor(s), such as low humidity or contact lens wear. Dry eye disease is a common yet frequently under-recognized public health problem whose etiology and management challenge clinicians and researchers involved in this field.
Areas covered: advances in the understanding of the disease have been made over the past 10 years in areas of epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestation, and possible therapy. Historical aspects and recent information in relation to the use of artificial tear substitutes and anti-inflammatory agents in dry eye disease, including topical cyclosporin and corticosteroids, autologous serum, tetracyclines and systemic immunosuppressants, are covered in this review. The reader will gain insight into the recent views on the pharmacological menu of treatments for dry eyes following the recommendations of the 2007 International Dry Eye Workshop.
Expert opinion: dry eye is a visually disabling disease, the treatment of which needs tailoring according to the type and severity of dry eye disease.