This article reviews the literature and summarizes the role of inflammation in dry eye disease. A PubMed search was performed using the keywords inflammatory cycle and dry eye. All searches were limited to articles published in or translated into the English language, dating from 1973 through March 2017. There were no restrictions on the study design. Advances in understanding the pathogenesis of dry eye disease has revealed that inflammation is a core driver: the so-called “vicious circle” of inflammation. Researchers continue to analyze the precise mechanisms by which inflammation occurs. This has led to therapeutic options to break the cycle. Continued animal and human studies reveal other potential sites for treatment in this complex host of disorders.