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Can Dry Eyes Cause Floaters?

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A senior man is sitting at a desk with a laptop. Holding his glasses in his right hand and rubbing his eyes with his left hand due to discomfort from dry eye.

Although they can often happen together, dry eyes don’t cause floaters, but they do share a common cause: age. However, symptoms and causes of this common condition affect millions worldwide.

In addition to potentially experiencing floaters while your eyes are dry, there are some other common symptoms you can expect, like red or irritated eyes, blurry vision, and excessive tearing—as ironic as that may be. Fortunately, dry eye disease is typically an easy condition to treat, although an individual may need repeat treatments depending on the severity and cause of the condition.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease, often referred to as dry eye, is a common eye condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by insufficient moisture and lubrication in the eyes, which can cause discomfort, irritation, and even vision problems.

Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore the symptoms of dry eyes, thinking they are just temporary and will go away on their own. However, if left untreated, dry eyes can lead to serious complications—which we’ll explore below—and affect quality of life.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental conditions, medications, and age. For example, spending long hours in front of a computer or other device, exposure to dry or windy conditions, and air conditioning can aggravate dry eyes. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications, can also cause dry eyes. Our bodies also typically produce fewer tears and less oil as we age, which can lead to dry eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

The symptoms of dry eye disease can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include:

  • Redness and irritation of the eyes
  • A burning or stinging sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye fatigue or discomfort
  • Excessive tearing

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see an eye doctor who can diagnose the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Treating Dry Eye

There are several treatments available to relieve the symptoms of dry eye disease. Suppose an environmental factor, such as spending time in front of a computer screen, causes the condition. In that case, your doctor may recommend taking frequent breaks or using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops are also effective at relieving dry eyes. Prescription medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids may be necessary in more severe cases. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to improve the function of the tear glands.

Can Dry Eyes Cause Floaters?

Dry eyes can cause an uneven distribution of tears across the eye’s surface, leading to a build-up of debris on the eye’s surface. This debris can then settle to the bottom of the eye and appear as floaters. However, this is a rare occurrence and does not happen with every case of dry eyes.

The most common cause of floaters is age-related changes in the vitreous, a jelly-like substance that fills the inside of the eye. As we age, the vitreous begins to break down, causing the formation of floaters. Eye trauma, inflammation, and other medical conditions can cause floaters.

Complications of Dry Eye

Dry eye often resolves itself on its own. For example, your eyes may return to normal once you’re out of a particular environment if it was dry air causing your symptoms. But in other cases, there could be severe complications with persistent and untreated dry eyes.

Eye Infections

Your tear film, which helps to protect your eyes against infection, is compromised when your eyes are constantly dry. This makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to take hold, which can lead to infections like conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and corneal ulcers.

Symptoms of an eye infection can include redness, swelling, pain, and discharge. In severe cases, an eye infection can cause permanent damage to your vision. It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you suspect you have an eye infection.

Corneal Abrasions

Your cornea, the clear front part of your eye, is more susceptible to scratches and damage when your eyes are dry. This can occur from something as simple as rubbing your eyes too hard or from a foreign object like a piece of grit or dust trapped under your eyelid. Corneal abrasions can cause severe pain, redness, and sensitivity to light and can take several days or weeks to heal.

Vision Problems

Over time, chronic dry eye can damage your eyesight. The constant irritation and inflammation caused by dry eye can lead to blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty driving at night. In severe cases, it can even cause permanent vision loss.

A male optometrist using a medical device to examine the eyes of a female patient and look for potential eye problems.

Discuss Your Symptoms with Your Eye Doctor

If you’re experiencing frequent floaters or an increase in the number of floaters, it’s essential to see an eye doctor immediately. They can examine your eyes and determine if an underlying eye condition requires treatment.Book an appointment with our team at LMC Optometry & Eye Care. One of our experienced optometrists can examine your eyes, determine what’s causing your symptoms, and offer safe and effective treatment advice.

Written by LMC Optometry & Eye Care

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