Dry eye is a common condition affecting millions of Canadians. It can leave your eyes feeling scratchy and uncomfortable and leave you searching for a way to find relief. When your eyes become too dry, it can result in blurred vision.
However, dry eyes can be more than simply uncomfortable. Dry eye disease can leave your eyes vulnerable to further harm, such as damage to your cornea. Your optometrist can watch for signs during a comprehensive eye exam, but the more you know about how dry eyes affect your vision, the better you can protect yourself.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes occur when the eye doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears of poor quality. A tear film covers your eyes consisting of three layers: an oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucus layer. These layers work together to keep your eyes moisturized and comfortable, but an imbalance can lead to dry eyes.
Dry eyes come in two types: Aqueous Deficiency and Evaporative.
Aqueous deficiency is when your glands don’t create enough tears to keep your eyes wet. This dryness can happen as you get older, as aging can reduce tear production. However, this type of dry eye is relatively uncommon, only accounting for about 10% of cases.
Evaporative dry eye is the most common type of dry eye, usually caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The meibomian glands line your eyelids and expel meibum, which creates the oily layer of our tear film. If these glands are blocked, it can cause our tears to evaporate too quickly, leading to dry eyes.
The Link Between Dry Eyes and Blurry Vision
Dry eyes and blurry vision are common symptoms that can sometimes indicate a more significant health problem. While blurry vision doesn’t cause dry eyes, some eye conditions, such as Sjörgen’s Syndrome, can result in you experiencing both dry eyes and blurry vision simultaneously.
While blurry vision can result from a refractive error, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, these conditions likely won’t cause dry eyes as well. However, if you wear contact lenses to correct your vision, this could be a factor.
Depending on the contact lens you wear, it can make your dry eyes worse. This is because soft contact lenses can absorb water from the eye’s surface. Similarly, having dry eyes can make wearing contact lenses more difficult, and both of these factors together can lead to blurry vision.
Overproduction of Tears
It may seem like it should be the opposite, but dry eyes can result in an overproduction of tears. These watery eyes are because our body knows our eyes are dry and irritated. So, in response, it tells your glands to keep making tears. These tears will be of lower quality, missing some of the essential components to help keep eyes hydrated.
However, if your tears evaporate because of a condition such as MGD, excess tear production likely won’t resolve your symptoms. Instead, the large amounts of liquid in your eye will only result in blurry vision and further discomfort.
The cornea is the clear dome at the front of your eye. It both protects the inside of your eye, where your iris and retina are, and helps focus light so you can correctly see.
While your cornea protects your eye, your tear film protects the cornea. A healthy tear film can wash away debris, such as dust and dirt, from the eye’s surface. If this debris builds up, it can scatter light before it enters the eye, causing objects to become blurry.
In severe cases, this debris can damage your cornea, causing scarring or erosion and affecting your vision.
Finding Relief from Dry Eyes
Since dry eyes and blurry vision are so closely linked, treating dry eyes should make your vision clearer too. If it doesn’t, your blurry vision may be caused by something else that your optometrist can diagnose with an eye exam.
Some common treatments for dry eyes include:
- Artificial tears: Over-the-counter eye drops can soothe dry eye symptoms and help you find quick relief. People who wear contact lenses might require a special type of eye drop, so make sure you get drops that are compatible with your lenses, or else you could damage them.
- Prescription eye drops: Depending on the specific cause of your dry eyes, your optometrist might suggest eye drops that can address meibomian gland dysfunction or tear film health.
- Warming treatments: Medical devices, such as iLux, can break down blockages in your meibomian glands and clear the way for healthy tears.
- Punctal plugs: Your tear ducts can be blocked to prevent tears from draining too fast using punctal occlusion surgery.
- Nutritional supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in certain fish, have been shown to lower the risk of dry eyes.
If you’re prone to dry eyes, implementing environmental changes can help. These changes can include using a humidifier, staying hydrated, regularly blinking when working at a computer, and wearing sunglasses outdoors.
Your Local Dry Eye Doctors in Grand Prairie
Doctors EyeCare understands how irritating persistent dry eye and blurry vision can be. Let us help you find relief for your eyes.
If you’re struggling with dry eyes, book an appointment with our team and regain your comfort and clear vision today!