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Can Dry Eye Cause Blurry Vision?

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Have you ever felt a dry, burning sensation on the surface of your eye? If so, you’ve probably experienced dry eye syndrome before. It’s caused by a problem with your tear production, leaving your eye exposed to the outside air, and can often feel like there’s a sandy coating on your eye. But can dry eye cause blurry vision?

Dry eye can cause blurry vision since your tear film is unstable. When your tear film has a problem, it can cause light to scatter as it enters your eye, leading to frustrating vision problems like blurry vision or light sensitivity.

Fortunately, you can find relief through dry eye therapy with your optometrist.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eye syndrome, also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca or simply dry eye, occurs when there’s a problem with your tear system. This could be caused by insufficient production of your tears, changes in the quality of the tears produced, or even your tears evaporating too quickly.

It can be caused by many factors. Typically, it’s due to these problems with the tear film. But if there are environmental factors causing your eyes to work harder to protect themselves, it can cause this feeling of dryness and burning. These factors include:

  • A windy, hot, or humid environment
  • Exposure to too much dry air
  • Long periods of intense screen usage

In some situations, dry eye can even develop due to medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. It’s often closely linked to a problem with your meibomian gland (the gland that produces oils to keep your tears from evaporating too quickly). Fortunately, dry eye is highly treatable with the aid of your optometrist. 

Since dry eye can be caused by so many different factors, it’s essential to visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam so they can thoroughly check your eyes and determine what’s causing your dry eyes.

Dry Eye: What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of dry eyes can vary from person to person. However, some common signs include:

  • A stinging, burning, or gritty sensation in the eyes
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Foreign body syndrome (the feeling that something is stuck in or touching your eye)

Dry eye can even cause overly watery eyes, which often seems contradictory. This happens because the dryness can trigger an overproduction of tears like your eye is overcompensating to protect itself. But if the tears are too poor of quality, they’ll evaporate before doing their job, leaving you with watery eyes and dry eye at the same time.

Can Blurry Vision Be Caused by Dry Eye?

However, many people find themselves wondering: can dry eye cause blurry vision?

Blurry vision can indeed be a symptom of dry eyes. When the eyes are dry, the tear film, which is partially responsible for your clear vision, gets disrupted. This can cause light rays entering the eye to scatter.

Fortunately, there’s good news. This is typically temporary and clears up when the dryness is resolved. However, if left untreated, chronic dry eye can leave the eye vulnerable and exposed. It can damage the surface of the eye, leading to more serious vision problems. 

This makes it vital to seek treatment if you experience chronic dry eye so you can avoid long-term damage to your eyes.

How to Treat Dry Eye

A woman in a blue cardigan applying eye drops on her right eye while working on her laptop.

The treatment for dry eyes typically aims to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye. This helps to minimize dryness and to maintain your overall eye health. Dry eye treatments often include:

  • Artificial tears or eye drops to supplement your natural tear production
  • Prescription medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication

If you use contact lenses, your optometrist may recommend specialty lenses designed to reduce feelings of dry eye. They may also advise certain lifestyle changes, like taking nutritional supplements or reducing screen time, to promote healthy tear production in your eyes.

Find Relief from Your Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome can be frustrating, and blurry vision can have a significant impact on your daily life. But with the help of an experienced optometrist—like our team at Perspectives Vision Clinic—you can find relief from your dry eyes. Book an appointment with us today to receive a proper diagnosis for your dry eye syndrome!


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  • Written by Dr. Marcie Nichols

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