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7 Ways Dry Eye Can Affect Your Vision

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A man sitting at a desk inside an office, taking off his eyeglasses and rubbing his eyes with his fingers due to eye problems.

Like many Canadians, you might be familiar with some of the uncomfortable symptoms of chronically dry eyes. But if you’ve only had mild cases until now, you might be less familiar with some of the ways dry eye can affect your vision.

In addition to being uncomfortable, your eyes can become more sensitive to light and you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Additionally, severe, untreated dry eye can lead to an increased infection risk and may cause damage to the cornea’s surface.

You’re certainly not alone in dealing with dry eye disease, but there are several treatments available that we can offer. The dry eye symptoms that you experience will determine which course of treatment our eye doctors recommend.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease, commonly known simply as dry eye, is a condition that affects the eye’s natural tear film. Not only is it an uncomfortable condition that can make everyday tasks difficult, but it can also potentially result in damage to the eye if left untreated.

There are 2 primary subtypes of dry eye: evaporative dry eye and aqueous deficient dry eye. Each shares symptoms and can affect your eyes the same, but they have different root causes that may change the treatment your eye doctor recommends.

Evaporative Dry Eye

Your eye’s tear film is made up of water, oil, and proteins. An improper mixture in this film can cause it to evaporate too quickly and leave your eye inadequately lubricated. This is evaporative dry eye.

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a leading cause of evaporative dry eye. Treatments like IPL therapy are an effective option for our patients, as the treatment helps to unblock the glands and improve flow.

Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye

There is likely nothing wrong with your tear film mixture when dealing with aqueous deficient dry eye. With this subtype of dry eye, the eye simply doesn’t produce an adequate amount of tears to keep the eye lubricated.

Lubricating eye drops are often the first line of treatment, and you don’t need a prescription to get them. Because dry eye is often a chronic condition that requires constant treatment, it’s important to use preservative-free eye drops, if possible, to avoid the eye drops causing the problem you’re trying to solve: irritated, dry eyes.

7 Ways Dry Eye Can Affect Your Vision

Common symptoms of dry eye may include:

  • Irritated feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Eye redness
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive watering
  • Stinging or burning feelings
  • Mucus discharge

There are also some ways dry eyes can affect your vision more seriously.

Light Sensitivity

Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is one of the symptoms most commonly connected to chronic dry eye. It may not seem like a big issue to be sensitive to light, but light sensitivity could lead to more discomfort if migraines develop. If your light sensitivity is due to your dry eyes, we have treatment options that can help lessen the symptoms. 

Increased Infection Risk

Microbial keratitis is a serious infection of the eye that is most commonly caused by the improper handling or use of contact lenses. However, the eye’s tear film is partly responsible for protecting the eye from contaminants. And if your eyes are not properly lubricated because of tear issues, the risk of developing a bacterial infection can increase.

Eye Surface Damage

One of the tear film’s primary jobs is lubricating your eyes so they move freely against your eyelids. If your eyes aren’t producing enough tears or the film evaporates too quickly, this could damage the eye’s surface. Contaminants that are normally flushed out of the eye by the tears could leave micro-scratches on the cornea.

A woman holding a small bottle of eye drops in her left hand and putting them on her right eye due to dry eyes.

Daily Discomfort

When your eyes are dry and uncomfortable, you may feel discomfort when trying to keep them open. Fortunately, preservative-free eye drops are often enough to bring a person relief, so the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes don’t heavily impact their daily lives. Our optometrists will be able to recommend a product that will be suitable for your specific use.

Difficulty Wearing Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can be a great option when you want to ditch your eyeglasses. Unfortunately, 50%–94% of adult contact lens wearers report varying levels of dry eye symptoms. This, combined with an increased chance of infection, can lead many people with dry eye to find it difficult to wear contact lenses. 

If you find contact lenses to be uncomfortable due to dry eye symptoms, give us a call and book in a consultation. There are different options that are more suited for patients that struggle with dry eye that our optometrists can help you with. 

Symptoms of an Underlying Condition

Dry eyes could result from other conditions. For example, studies have shown that more than 50% of those with diabetes develop dry eyes as a complication. It’s important that our eye doctors are aware of your diabetes because other complications from the disease could affect your vision. Some of these diabetes related eye diseases can develop for years without obvious symptoms, making an annual diabetic eye exam all the more important for your eye health.

Blindness

In extreme cases of severe and untreated dry eye, blindness can develop. It’s important to note that vision loss or blindness is unlikely to result from mild to moderate cases of dry eye disease. But if dry eyes are resulting in surface damage, scar tissue could build up over time, leading to permanent vision loss or blindness.

Discuss Your Relief Options with Our Eye Doctors at Aurora Eye Care

Dry eye may be a common condition, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer without relief. If you’ve already tried over-the-counter eye drops and warm compresses, it might be time to discuss your treatment options with one of our eye doctors.Give us a call at Aurora Eye Care and let our professional team answer your questions. We’re happy to book you an appointment to see one of our Optometrists to get you the relief you need.

Written by Dr. Kyla Hunter

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