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1629 K St NW #502 Washington DC 20006 +1 202-659-2010
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Can Dry Eyes Cause Floaters?

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Dry Eyes & Floaters: What’s the Connection?

When eye floaters are sneaking into your sight, you might be wondering if your dry eyes are the cause. Dry eyes can cause various symptoms, and many can impact your vision. Visiting Eye Rx for an eye exam or dry eye therapy can diagnose your eye health and help you understand your symptoms.

But are floaters a symptom of dry eyes? Read on to learn more about what causes floaters.

What Is A Floater?

A floater is a shape that appears in your vision, usually looking like a dark spot, squiggly line, string, or even cobwebs. It may seem like an object has suddenly appeared in front of your eye, but the problem is inside.

After eye movement, the floater moves inside your eye, drifting across your visions. You may try, but you can’t focus on it.

The floater, a small cluster of cells, seems to float because it’s suspended in the vitreous layer of your eye. You’re not seeing the floater but rather the shadow of the cell cluster as it moves across the retina.

The retina is responsible for receiving light and changing it into electrical signals. The signals are sent to the brain through the optic nerve, and we perceive the signals as vision.

The vitreous layer is a gel-like layer. The layer is transparent, allowing light to travel through and reach the retina easily. However, vitreous is a substance containing proteins, which can form protein deposits trapped inside the ordinarily transparent fluid. Those protein deposits can get trapped if formed at birth or deteriorate because of aging.

A woman rubbing her eyes due to dry eye

Can Dry Eyes Cause Floaters?

Dry eyes can lead to additional symptoms and eye conditions, but dry eyes alone do not cause floaters. You may experience dry eyes and floaters simultaneously, but treating dry eyes won’t eliminate floaters.

Although dry eye symptoms don’t include floaters, but can cause:

  • Dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
  • Stringy mucus
  • Burning or scratchy sensation

Dry eyes and floaters can occur together or alongside other eye conditions, as they share common risk factors. There are two main reasons both eye effects can occur together: eye trauma or aging.

Eye injury

When our eyes are injured, it can impact our vision and eye health. However, depending on the injury, you may not notice symptoms, or symptoms may heal quickly.

Notably, some eye injuries can have lasting or delayed effects. For example, the outer layer may seem healed, but the inner eye may have sustained damage you can’t detect with the naked eye. Therefore, it’s crucial to visit an optometrist after an injury.

If you experience an eye injury or sudden vision symptoms, contact us immediately for an emergency eye care appointment.

After an eye trauma, your eyes may experience dryness, and sometimes symptoms occur later. The injury may have also caused cell movement within your vitreous, mainly if the damage caused vitreous detachment or retinal detachment.

Aging

Aging increases the risks of many eye conditions, including dry eyes, occurring in 30% of adults over 50

Dry eyes may be caused by a natural decrease in quality tear production or as a result of medications. According to the CDC, nearly 70% of American adults 40–79 use one prescription medication, while almost 23% use at least 5 prescriptions.

Floaters are also more common with aging because the vitreous fluid can weaken and deteriorate. The deterioration increases the protein deposits we perceive as spots or floating objects.

Other Causes of Floaters

Other potential causes of floaters include:

  • Eye diseases
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye tumors
  • Retina damage
  • Bleeding in your vitreous
  • Infections causing eye inflammation
  • Autoimmune conditions 

Multiple autoimmune disorders can cause vision problems. Some lead to inflammation, affecting the vitreous or retina. Some immune disorders can also cause dry eyes, coinciding with floaters.

Treating Floaters

Floaters are permanent and won’t go away on their own. However, floaters are generally harmless, so most eye care professionals don’t treat them. Notably, the floating objects can become less noticeable over time, limiting their impact on vision.

When floaters increase or are linked to another eye condition, you may require treatment. After diagnosing your eye health and visual comfort, an optometrist may recommend options for treating floaters or causes related to floaters.

Vitrectomy

An ophthalmologist performs a vitrectomy to remove the vitreous humor from the eye. Then, an artificial fluid replaces the vitreous fluid to retain eye shape and function.

Although ophthalmologists can resolve floaters through a vitrectomy, the surgery is commonly used to treat other eye conditions, including:

Consult Dry Eye Experts at Eye Rx

As an accredited TearLab Dry Eye Center, our team at Eye Rx knows dry eyes. We can provide an accurate assessment to understand your unique eye needs. We’re also here to help with your eye comfort. So whether you’re experiencing dry eyes, floaters, or other symptoms, we can work together to improve eye health and visual comfort.

Contact us and book an appointment today!

Written by Stephen Lobaugh

Dr. Lobaugh earned his doctorate from the New England College of Optometry in 1997 and has dedicated his career to providing high-quality eye care services to residents of the Washington-Baltimore area.

Dr. Lobaugh is an Affiliate Doctor with TLC Laser Eye Centers, a position that allows him to effectively co-manage a variety of refractive surgeries including LASIK, PRK, and KAMRA inlay. He is also certified by the International Association of Board of Examiners in the treatment and management of ocular disease.

In 2015, Dr. Lobaugh joined the Eye Rx team, allowing us to open our second location in Washington. He hopes to continue to serve the residents of the D.C. Metropolitan area for many more years to come.

More Articles by Stephen Lobaugh

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