Can Dry Eyes Affect Your Vision?

Can Having Dry Eyes Affect Your Vision Negatively?

Healthy eyes produce tears to moisten and protect the eyes. However, some people do not produce enough tears to adequately protect and lubricate their eyes, and this condition is called dry eye. Dry eye is often uncomfortable, and it can impact a person’s vision.

Can Dry Eyes Affect Your Vision?

What are tears used for?

When a person blinks, he or she produces tears that line the cornea of the eye. These tears serve two necessary functions. Firstly, the tears reduce the risk of infection by washing particles and other foreign matter from the eye. Another important function of these tears is to keep the eye surface clear, which promotes better vision.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

People with dry eyes typically experience pain in their eyes, redness and itching. The patient might also complain of a gritty feeling in the eyes, or they may feel that they have some particles or trash in their eyes. Dry eyes may also impact vision, and the patient’s vision will become blurry. If the condition is left untreated over time, it can lead to scars and ulcers on the cornea, which can result in vision loss.

Causes

People develop dry eyes for many different reasons. Some scientists believe dry eyes are a natural occurrence in humans as they age. Many elderly people complain of dry eyes. Some medical conditions also cause dry eyes. Diabetics, those with rheumatoid arthritis and those with thyroid disease are at an increased risk of dry eyes.

Some medications reduce the amount of tears produced. A few of those types of medications are as follows:

  • Hypertension medication
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Decongestants

Environmental factors can also reduce tear production. For instance, staring at a computer monitor without blinking for extended periods can cause dry eyes. People who live in windy climates or those who are exposed to smoke also often suffer from dry eyes. Cigarette smoking and exposure to too much sunlight can cause eyes to dry.

Treatment

Vision problems are a chief concern for many people with dry eyes. While dry eye is often a chronic problem, the condition can be treated by an optometrist. One way to treat dry eyes is through the use of artificial tears. These artificial tear solutions are often purchased over-the-counter.

However, in some cases, a patient’s dry eye may be too severe to be treated with over-the-counter medications. In such cases, the optometrist may have to prescribe special eye drops that increase a patient’s tear production. The eye doctor might also elect to help the patient conserve tears by blocking tear ducts using plugs or by permanently blocking them via surgery. Other methods for treating dry eye are as follows:

  • Eye ointments
  • Lid massage
  • Warm compresses
  • Eye cleaners (to treat inflammation)

Dry eye can cause blurry vision, some vision loss and discomfort. However, in most cases the condition is treatable by an optometrist. The optometrist can examine the eyes and run special tests to tell if the eyes are producing enough tears. If you think you may be suffering from dry eye, visit an optometrist for advice and treatment.