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Can Dry Eyes Lead to Blindness?

Dry eyes also called dry eye syndrome is an increasingly chronic and progressive condition affecting millions of people. Rarely do dry eyes lead to blindness in the United States; however, in other parts of the world, both in places close to the equator and where medical care is limited or non-existent, dry eyes can lead to eye diseases that can cause blindness.

The human eye is coated with a protective tear film that shields the outer surface of the eye. It is composed of 3 distinctive layers known as mucin, aqueous and oil. The thin inner layer, mucin, binds tears to the cornea at the front of the eye. The thicker layer, aqueous, carries nutrients and oxygen to the cornea. The outer layer, the oil, floats on the aqueous layer to keep it from evaporating. Dry eyes occur either because of a lack of tears or an overproduction of tears that are of poor quality. The condition of dry eyes can be confusing. Dry eye symptoms can occur when not enough aqueous is produced or if the oil layer is deficient, allowing for excessive evaporation of the aqueous tears. Sometimes, both can occur creating a lack of balance in the tear-flow system.

There are treatment options to mitigate the symptoms of dry eyes that include artificial tear drops, temporary punctal plugs and steroid medications. Surgery is not often necessary but possible. Dry eyes do not lead to blindness or cause vision loss unless uncharacteristically severe. In rare cases, dry eye can decrease vision, but proper care and treatment resolves most dry eye cases. Dry eyes can cause visual fluctuations such as blurred vision. Most often dry eye symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation, particles in the eye, gritty feeling in the eye, itchiness, redness, inflammation, stringy mucus, increased sensitivity to light and tired eyes. Severe dry eye can be related to chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, lupus, scleroderma, thyroid disorders, vitamin A deficiency, allergic eye disease or Sjogren’s syndrome. It may be that dry eyes are simply a byproduct of an underlying or undiagnosed medical condition that could lead to vision loss or blindness and not a result of dry eyes alone.

Although the main causes of dry eye are insufficient tear production and the imbalance of the tera mixture, there are some ways to help alleviate dry eye symptoms. These include using a humidifier, avoiding low humidity, taking frequent screen breaks, keeping the eye hydrated by drinking plenty of water, limiting the wearing of contact lenses, and most importantly, routine checkups with your eye care professional.

Visit Skyline Vision Clinic for your dry eye treatment options. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call today at 719-630-3937 or schedule online at WEBSITE