Can Dry Eye Cause Blurry Vision?

4 min read

Yes! Dry eye causes blurry vision in many people. Patients are often surprised to learn this because dry eye does not seem like a very serious problem. However, depending on the severity of your dry eye, it can reduce your vision.

So, how do you know if your blurry vision is from your dry eye? Here are some signs that your blurry vision could be caused by your dry eye.

1. Your dry eye is worse after doing certain activities.

If you start using the computer and can see clearly, but after one or two hours your vision becomes blurry, this could be related to dry eye. A similar situation could also happen if you are reading, studying or looking into a microscope. This is because anytime a person does a focused visual task, they are less likely to blink. As a person's blink rate goes down, the tear film is not being spread across the surface of the eye. Try keeping a bottle of artificial tears next to your computer, and use the tears periodically throughout your work day. This may help to improve your blurry vision.

2. Your vision becomes clearer with blinking.

If you notice that you need to blink in order to see clearly, your eye may be dry. Sometimes a person may need to blink several times in order for their vision to become clear. This is likely due to dry eye.

3. You are a contact lens wearer.

Patients who wear contact lenses are more likely to have dry eye and subsequent blurry vision from it. Switching to daily contacts can help and also using preservative free artificial tears can help.

4. You have had laser vision correction surgery.

LASIK and PRK can cause long term dry eye in patients. Patients may think that their vision correction surgery is no longer working, but in many cases it may just be dry eye. If you are someone that has surgery to correct your vision, you may need to use artificial tears on a long term basis.

In order to understand how dry eye causes blurry vision, it is important to discuss the tear film. The tear film of the eye is the first surface that light hits when it it is entering the eye. It is the first refractive surface of the eye. Refraction is the part of the eye exam when a doctor measures the prescription in your glasses. If this refractive surface is not intact, it can affect how you see.

It is estimated that nearly 80% of how well you see is determined by the tear film and the front part of the cornea. The cornea is the front part of the eye. When the tear film does not function as it should, dry eye is the result. In fact, eye doctors may measure tear film breakup time in order to figure out if a patient has dry eye. Tear film break up time means the amount of time it takes the tear film to dissipate or break up. When the tear film breaks up, it no longer provides a smooth surface for light to enter.

Can Dry Eye Cause Blurry Vision: Take Home Points

Blurry vision from dry eye is not uncommon. If your vision improves after artificial tears, it is likely that dry eye is contributing to your poor vision. However, not all blurry vision is from dry eye. Therefore, if you are having blurry vision, it is important to see an ophthalmologist. When an ophthalmologist evaluates you, they can determine the cause of your blurry vision. In many cases, blurry vision could caused by dry eye and another medical issue. For this reason, be sure to see an ophthalmologist to have a complete eye exam.

Sources:

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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27042343/

Tellez-Vazquez J. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves dry eye symptoms in patients with glaucoma: results of a prospective multicenter study. Clin Ophthalmol. 2016 Apr 5;10:617-26. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S96433. PMID: 27103781; PMCID: PMC4827597.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27103781/

Fern√°ndez-Jimenez E, Diz-Arias E, Peral A. Improving ocular surface comfort in contact lens wearers. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2022 Jun;45(3):101544. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2021.101544. Epub 2021 Nov 25. PMID: 34840071.

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