Dry eye disease: an immune-mediated ocular surface disorder

Arch Ophthalmol. 2012 Jan;130(1):90-100. doi: 10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.364.


Dry eye disease is a multifactorial disorder of the tears and ocular surface characterized by symptoms of dryness and irritation. Although the pathogenesis of dry eye disease is not fully understood, it is recognized that inflammation has a prominent role in the development and propagation of this debilitating condition. Factors that adversely affect tear film stability and osmolarity can induce ocular surface damage and initiate an inflammatory cascade that generates innate and adaptive immune responses. These immunoinflammatory responses lead to further ocular surface damage and the development of a self-perpetuating inflammatory cycle. Herein, we review the fundamental links between inflammation and dry eye disease and discuss the clinical implications of inflammation in disease management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Conjunctiva / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Lymphangiogenesis / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology