Do you ever feel like your vision is suddenly blurred, making it difficult to see? You may be experiencing a common eye condition called dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye can cause discomfort and irritation and also affect your overall vision. But what exactly are dry eyes, how do they develop, and what can your optometrist do for your dry eyes during your next eye exam?
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly.
Our eyes need tears because they keep our eyes moist, preventing dryness, irritation, and infections. They also help maintain clear vision by washing away debris and helping to focus light and contain special proteins and enzymes that fight infections and stop bacteria from growing on your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome affects the protective layer of tears called the tear film. Dry eye syndrome causes our eyes to lose this protective layer and become more susceptible to infections. The lack of moisture also causes discomfort and inflammation, leading to uncomfortable symptoms and poor vision.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye can cause many symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Red or inflamed eyes
- The feeling like something’s in your eye
- Excessive watering
Many of these symptoms are your body’s natural response to your eye’s lack of lubrication.
Why Do Dry Eyes Cause Blurry Vision?
Dry eyes can cause blurry vision for a few different reasons:
- Disruption in the smoothness of the tear film can cause light entering the eye to scatter, leading to blurry or distorted vision.
- Dry eyes may cause the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, to become uneven or irregular.
- Your eyes may produce excess discharge to lubricate the surface of your eyes, but this discharge can also cause temporary blurriness.
- Prolonged reading or electronic device use can worsen dry eye symptoms and contribute to blurry vision.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
- Age: As we get older, our bodies produce fewer tears and the composition of our tears changes, making dry eyes more common in older adults.
- Hormones: Hormonal changes, especially during menopause and pregnancy, can cause changes in tear composition.
- Certain medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, diuretics, and blood pressure medications often have ocular side effects.
- Medical conditions: Autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome or diabetes can lead to decreased tear production or increased evaporation.
- Environmental conditions: Dry air, wind, and smoke can increase tear evaporation and eye irritation.
- Inflammatory skin disorders: Conditions like rosacea and eczema can affect the eyelids and cause eye inflammation.
- Contact lens use: Contacts can make dry eyes worse by reducing oxygen flow to the cornea and trapping debris on the surface of the eye.
- Screen time: We blink less when using digital devices, which can lead to dryness and irritation.
- Laser eye surgery: Some patients experience dry eye symptoms after undergoing laser eye surgeries.
Tips for Managing Dry Eyes
Some simple tips can help you manage your dry eyes and prevent blurry vision.
- Make sure you’re blinking frequently, especially when using a computer or reading.
- Use a humidifier in your home or workplace to keep the air from becoming too dry.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break from intense focus.
- Use a warm compress to improve tear production.
- Use preservative-free all natural artificial tears to reintroduce moisture to your eyes.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid allergens that can cause eye irritation.
- Add more omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A to your diet to help improve your overall eye health.
- Protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays with sunglasses and eye protection.
- Take proper care of your contacts and follow the recommended replacement schedule.
When to Seek Help for Dry Eyes & Blurry Vision
Dry eyes and blurry vision may seem like minor issues, but they shouldn’t be ignored. If you are experiencing persistent dryness or blurred vision, see your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Dry eye syndrome can lead to complications like corneal damage and infections. Blurry vision may also indicate other health issues that require urgent care.
There are many causes of dry eyes and blurry vision, so it’s important to talk to your eye doctor so they can diagnose the root cause and recommend a treatment plan.
Dry Eye Therapy Options
Various treatment options are available to help improve your symptoms and tear production. These include:
- Artificial tears that reintroduce lubrication to your eyes and provide immediate relief.
- Medicated eye drops are prescription drops to help suppress inflammation that causes dry eyes.
- Hypochlorous disinfectant to lower the bacterial load and reduce irritation.
Other non-invasive options for dry eye treatment include warm compresses, which can help unclog blocked oil glands in the eyelids, and specialty contact lenses designed for dry eyes.
Take the Next Step in Dry Eye Relief
Everyone’s dry eye experience differs, so it’s crucial to consult your eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations. With the right approach, you can find relief and improve your overall eye health. Here at York Mills Eye Care, we offer 3 dry eye therapies that may help your symptoms. For more information, book an appointment today.