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Can Dry Eye Cause Blurriness?

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A woman driving her car is struggling due to blurred vision

For millions of Canadians, dry eye disease can be a source of pain and irritation. With that many people suffering from this common condition, if you don’t have it yourself, you likely know someone in your family who does.

Dry eye can affect people differently, and blurriness could be a sign you should start looking for relief. 

However, other eye conditions can also cause blurriness. Recognizing dry eye symptoms and other eye diseases is paramount since we rely on our vision for so much during the day. Your optometrist can examine your eyes to determine the cause, but it starts at home.

What Is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease is a common condition that affects many people at some point in their lives. While it’s easy to ignore your tears when they work correctly, they’re a much more intricate part of your overall eye health than you may expect.

Your tears are more than water. There are 3 layers of enzymes and proteins called your tear film that work together to hydrate your eyes. When something goes wrong with your tear film, it can lead to the irritation we call dry eye disease.

Dry eye typically comes in 2 varieties, each with its own causes:

  • Evaporative dry eye is caused by low-quality tears that evaporate too fast. This is the most common type of dry eye and can result from meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
  • Aqueous deficient dry eye is caused by your body not producing enough tears and typically happens as you age, but there are other causes.

Blurriness is only one of the symptoms either of these types of dry eye could cause. However, other eye conditions could also be behind your blurry vision. Be on the lookout for these other symptoms that may point to dry eyes:

  • Red eyes
  • Stinging, scratchiness, or a grittiness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stringy mucus
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Excessive tear production without relief

Dry eyes are more than irritating—tears are essential to protect the cornea, the eye’s clear front dome. A healthy tear film can wash away dust or dirt from the cornea. With dry eyes, these particles could linger and may eventually cause damage or scarring.

Am I At Risk of Dry Eye?

Some common risk factors for dry eyes include:

A young man is experiencing eye strain and discomfort, holding his glasses and rubbing his tired, dry, and irritated eyes due to prolonged computer work.

How Do Dry Eyes Cause Blurriness?

There are a few ways dry eyes can result in blurry vision.

Watery Eyes

Some people might notice that their eyes get all watery even while they’re still feeling gritty. This tear production is your body’s natural way of saying, “Hey, let’s add some moisture here to try to make things better.”

Normally, when your eyes sense something irritating, your body tells those tear glands to kick into action and wash it away. But if you’re dealing with evaporative dry eye disease, those tears often disappear before they can provide relief. Dry eyes tend to cause lots of irritation, so your body tries even harder, producing even more tears, and the cycle continues.

All those extra tears can get clogged up in your eyes and impact your vision, making it seem like you’re peering through a glass of water.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a widespread issue that crops up when we spend a lot of time glued to our screens.

When we’re engrossed in our digital devices, we tend to blink a whole lot less. In fact, on average, we only blink about 4 times a minute compared to the usual 17. This lack of blinking can cause our precious tear film to evaporate faster than it should, giving rise to the unpleasant duo of dry eyes and blurry vision.

When you’re working at a computer for long periods, remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you’re at a screen, do yourself a favour and shift your gaze to something about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. The distance and time don’t need to be exact. It’s more important to be mindful of regular eye breaks.

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are a popular choice for folks seeking vision correction. However, a proper fit is vital for allowing them to work correctly. If you have dry eyes, contacts might not sit on your cornea properly, leading to blurriness even when wearing corrective lenses.

Furthermore, contact lenses have the potential to worsen dry eye symptoms. Soft contact lenses, in particular, rely on moisture to maintain flexibility. And they could absorb this moisture from the eye itself, especially if worn longer than prescribed.

While contact lenses can be a valuable vision correction option, people experiencing dry eye should exercise caution and consult their eye care professional.

Other Causes of Dry Eye & Blurriness

Dry eyes and blurry vision are sometimes linked indirectly. While sometimes dry eyes can cause blurriness, they could also both be symptoms of a separate condition affecting your sight. So, if you treat your dry eyes but still experience blurriness, it could be a sign of something more serious.

It’s essential to have an optometrist examine your family’s eyes, as they can look for signs of disease and help manage ocular conditions.

Finding Relief from Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be a source of ongoing frustration for many. Fortunately, our team at Orillia Optometry is equipped to provide effective treatments to assist your family in managing this condition. We can diagnose the source of your dry eyes and determine the course of action that could bring you the relief you deserve.

Book an appointment today and learn more about how Orillia Optometry can help you see comfortably—and clearly—again.

Dr Moore

Written by Shawn Moore

Dr. Moore began his career in Barrie, moved to Orillia, and purchased what is now Orillia Optometry in 2001. Dr. Moore thoroughly enjoys primary care optometry, but his areas of interest are vision therapy, concussion management, contact lenses / multifocal contact lenses, and dry eye.

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