Dry eyes and blurry vision are 2 common eye problems that can significantly impact your daily life. However, these issues may actually be one and the same!
Along with stinging and irritation, dry eyes can cause blurry vision, making it difficult to see details. If you’re unsure what’s behind the sudden blurriness, your optometrist can examine your symptoms with a comprehensive eye exam. It’s possible that with effective dry eye treatment, you can get back to seeing the world clearly.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a condition in which your eyes do not produce enough tears to keep them lubricated and moist, or the tears they produce are low-quality and evaporate too fast. Your tears do more than share your emotions. Every time you blink, you spread a tear film across your eyes.
The tear film is essential for maintaining good eye health and allowing you to see clearly. The tear film comprises 3 layers that work together to protect the eyes from infections, provide moisture, and maintain optical clarity. These 3 layers are:
- An inner mucous layer
- A middle watery layer
- An outer oily layer
The outer oily layer’s job is to keep your tear film stable, so it doesn’t evaporate before it can nourish your eyes. It’s made up of meibum, produced by the meibomian glands that line your eyelids. These glands can become inflamed or blocked. This disruption is called meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), and it makes up over 85% of all dry eye cases!
Dry Eye Causes
While dry eye can affect almost anyone, several factors can increase your risk of dryness. The most common risk factor is age since the body produces fewer tears as we grow older. Other factors include:
- Biological sex
- Hormones during pregnancy or menopause
- Medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, or blood pressure medicine
- Systemic disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems
- Rosacea and blepharitis
- Windy, dry, or hot environments
- Spending too much time looking at screens
- Contact lenses
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye symptoms can vary depending on your condition’s severity. Common symptoms include:
- Red eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Burning, scratchiness, or stinging
- Stringy mucous around the eye
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Blurry vision
Ironically, some people may also experience watery eyes, which can be a reflex to dryness. This excess of tears can make it harder to see. Usually, your tear film is structured so that your tears are easy to see through. But when MGD disrupts the outer oily layer that keeps the tear’s surface smooth, a large amount of tears could blur your vision.
Dry eyes aren’t the only cause of blurry vision, however. It’s a common symptom of many harmful eye diseases. An optometrist can pinpoint the source of the blurriness and offer treatments.
Treatments for Dry Eye
For some, dry eye comes and goes with the season. For others, it’s a chronic condition they have to manage every day. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. An optometrist should personalize a treatment plan for your unique case, and it may include a combination of at-home and in-office methods.
Some treatments for at-home relief of dry eye symptoms include:
- Lubricating eye drops: Also known as artificial tears, lubricating eye drops can be used throughout the day for quick relief.
- Prescription eye drops: Medicated eye drops contain prescription-strength ingredients that can help reduce inflammation, increase tear production, and improve the overall health of your eyes.
- Omega-3 supplements: Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can promote a healthy tear film.
- Warm compresses: Warm compresses can be heated in the microwave or made by soaking a clean cloth in hot water. You can apply them over your eyes to help increase oil production from meibomian glands.
- Eyelid cleaners: Cleaners and scrubs can reduce MGD by cleaning biofilm and bacteria that cause blockages and inflammation.
Relief for severe dry eye symptoms can be out of reach with only at-home treatments. Some optometrists offer in-office treatments that target the source of dry eye symptoms, offering fast relief and the ability to meet your day with comfortable vision.
Some treatments Cowichan Eyecare offers in our Dry Eye Spa include:
- ZEST: Zocular eyelid system treatment (ZEST) is a noninvasive, drug-free treatment that cleans and moisturizes the eyelids and eyelashes, reducing inflammation and preventing bacterial growth. The treatment involves using a specially formulated cleaner and a microfibre cloth to gently scrub the eyelids.
- IPL Therapy: IPL, or intense pulsed light therapy, uses light to treat dry eye symptoms. It works by shining intense flashes of light on the eyelids, stimulating oil production in the meibomian glands and loosening blockages.
- LLLT: LLLT stands for low-level light therapy, a procedure that uses specific wavelengths of light to promote healing and reduce inflammation.
- LipiFlow: LipiFlow is a type of thermal pulsation treatment that uses heat and gentle pressure to melt blockages in the meibomian glands and restore normal oil flow. LipiFlow works by treating the underlying condition, potentially providing long-term relief to patients.
- Radiofrequency Therapy: It’s possible to get younger-looking skin while treating dry eye! Originally designed as a cosmetic treatment for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, radiofrequency (RF) treatment uses radio waves to stimulate collagen production, which can also help clear blocked meibomian glands.
Find Relief from Dry Eye
Everyone experiences dry eye symptoms differently. While some folks might have the occasional scratchiness or redness, others might find themselves squinting through a blurry world. If your other dry eye symptoms fade, but you still notice blurry vision, it could be another issue.
That’s why it’s so important to see Cowichan Eyecare for a comprehensive eye exam whenever you notice vision problems. Your sight is precious, and we’re passionate about helping you take care of it. Don’t let dry eyes or blurry vision keep you from seeing the world in high definition.If you’ve noticed any dry eye symptoms, book your eye exam as soon as possible. Relief is within reach!