Can Dry Eyes Cause Blurry Vision and Perhaps Vision Loss? Here’s What You Need to Know
Have you been experiencing dry eyes lately? While we generally think of tears as something that fill our eyes when we are sad, the truth is that tears lubricate our eyes during every hour of the day—or, rather, they are supposed to lubricate our eyes. Tears incorporate water, oils, mucus, and antibodies, a mixture that provides moisture, lubrication, and even infection-fighting properties. If your tear glands aren’t doing their job or if your tears are evaporating too quickly, you can get dry eyes—an unpleasant condition characterized by redness, itchiness, light sensitivity, blurry vision, and an often-painful gritty sensation in your eye. If you constantly feel as if there is something in your eye, also called a foreign body sensation, you are probably suffering from dry eyes.
Causes of Dry Eyes
A lot of different factors can cause your eyes to feel dry. Certain antihistamines, contraceptives, antidepressants, and other prescription or over-the-counter drugs list dry eyes as a known side effect. Allergies and systemic illnesses can result in dry and irritated eyes. Your heating or air conditioning system, if it is creating too dry of an environment in your home, can dry out your tear film. If your job requires you to stare at a computer screen all day, you might develop dry eyes from not blinking enough. Even the climate you live in can heighten your likelihood of experiencing dry eyes: dry, dusty, and low-humidity climates especially, but also areas with a lot of wind.
Because dry eyes are such a common symptom, many people assume they are not a serious issue and shouldn’t be a concern. After all, many of the issues discussed above are easy enough to solve. Does the air in your home feel particularly dry? Buy a humidifier to add extra moisture into the air. Are you getting dry eyes from too much screen time? Try to get in the habit of blinking more often, or actively schedule regular breaks into your day where you get away from all screens.
The Dangers of Dry Eyes
Unfortunately, these lifestyle changes can’t resolve all types of dry eyes. The list of potential causes for dry eye syndrome may be long, but it also includes more serious conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Lupus, and others. If you have gone through LASIK surgery to correct a vision problem, you may also develop dry eyes.
If you have chronic dry eyes, you should consult an eye doctor to determine if the dryness might be a symptom of a more serious health condition. Even if a systemic disease is ruled out, though, it’s still worthwhile to seek help for a chronic dry eye issue. While dry eyes might just seem like a discomfort in the moment, the issue can lead to permanent eye damage and vision loss if not addressed. Tears play an essential role in lubricating the eye, distributing oxygen and nutrients, protecting against infection, cleaning away dust and debris, and preventing abrasions. Without your tears, your eyes are like a knight without his armor, vulnerable to all threats.
Addressing Dry Eyes
The most common treatment for dry eyes is the use of eye drops or artificial tears. These methods lubricate the eye and restore moisture, which eases discomfort and enables protection. However, the effect does not last if the underlying condition is not addressed. At Weston Contact Lens Institute, one of the strategies we implement to treat dry eye is: scleral contact lenses. For individuals with dry eyes, the idea of wearing contact lenses likely sounds agonizing. Most lenses sit on the corneal surface—which can exacerbate dry, irritated eyes, reduce lubrication, and are just not comfortable. Scleral lenses are different: they rest on the sclera (the white of the eye) and vault over the cornea. This “vault” between the cornea and the lens is filled with tears, which always keep the eye lubricated and hydrated. The lenses are also gas-permeable, which means they ensure that plenty of oxygen makes its way to the eye.
Dry eyes can pose a threat to your eye health and vision. Address the problem today by sitting down with our doctors and discussing your options, including scleral lenses.