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Does Dry Eye Affect Your Vision?

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Your eyes are some of the most important and delicate organs in your body. They help you navigate the world, express emotions, and connect with others. However, when your eyes become painful, gritty, and dry, it can be agonizing. 

Dry eyes can impact visual acuity, color vision, and contrast sensitivity. They can also make daily activities challenging. An eye exam is the first step you can take to find relief from dry eye symptoms.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a condition where your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated. It begins with a problem in your tear film.

The tear film is essential to the health of your eyes. It has 3 layers that work together to lubricate, nourish, and protect the eyes. When there’s an imbalance in any of these layers, it can lead to dry eye. 

Dry eye can be chronic or temporary. While it can affect anyone, it’s more common as we age.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person, but they often include:

  • Eye redness
  • Burning
  • A gritty sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

Risk Factors for Dry Eye

Several factors can increase your risk of developing dry eye, including:

  • Age
  • Medications for depression, allergies, and blood pressure
  • Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Environmental conditions
  • Contact lens wear
  • Dietary insufficiency of vitamin A

Working long hours on the computer or in environments with poor air quality can also increase your chances of developing dry eye.

Dry Eye & Vision

The uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye can also affect your vision, worsening existing vision problems, distorting details, and impacting light perception.

Impacts on Visual Acuity

Visual acuity measures how well you can see and discern fine. It refers to the clarity and sharpness of your vision. When you have dry eye, it can affect your visual acuity. 

Dry eye symptoms can damage the surface of your cornea, which can blur your vision, making everything appear distorted. Your eyes may also feel heavy or tired, making it hard to focus.

If your ocular surface is unstable, your vision quality can worsen, making daily activities that require sharp vision, such as reading, driving, or watching TV, more difficult.

Color Vision

Those with dry eyes report difficulty distinguishing between colors and noticing their vibrance. This can significantly impact your ability to differentiate between lighter shades, such as pastels, in which variations in color hue may be subtle.

Loss of Contrast Sensitivity

Contrast sensitivity refers to the ability to distinguish between different shades of color and light. Dry eye can cause a decrease in your contrast sensitivity, as the surface of your eye is not as smooth as it should be, making it harder for you to see slight differences in brightness. This can also affect your ability to drive at night or identify facial expressions in low light.

Eye Strain & Headaches

Dry eye can contribute to eye strain, headaches, and fatigue. When your eyes don’t get enough moisture, they have to work harder to focus, and this extra strain can cause discomfort and tension headaches, creating interruptions in your work, hobbies, and daily routine.

Dry Eye Treatments

A man washing his face with water in front of a bathroom mirror.

Some people succeed with dry eye home remedies, although they’re usually short-term. Some of these include:

  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Warm compress
  • Omega-3 supplements
  • Eyelid hygiene
  • Home humidifier
  • Frequent screen breaks
  • Sunglasses

IPL Therapy 

When dry eye is caused by blocked meibomian glands and poor tear quality, in-office treatments of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy can provide long-term relief from dry eye symptoms.

IPL offers convenient and effective treatments, lasting around 10 to 15 minutes over 4 sessions. The procedure itself is gentle and noninvasive, requiring no downtime—you can resume your daily activities right away. After just a few sessions, you’ll begin to notice significant results. 

Find Relief for Dry Eye Symptoms 

Dry eye can significantly affect your vision and quality of life. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms or other vision problems, schedule an appointment at Eye Rx.

With an eye exam to assess your vision and discuss your dry eye, our optometry team can help you find the right solutions for your eyes. With the proper care, you can find relief from dry eye symptoms and help keep your eyes healthy.

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Written by Eye Rx

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