Can Dry Eye Cause Blurriness?

If you’ve ever felt scratchy, irritated eyes that no amount of blinking can relieve, you might be experiencing the frustrating indications of dry eye syndrome. To combat these disruptive symptoms, your optometrist can help identify remedies and treatment options that will work for you.

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and it can cause a range of symptoms, including redness, irritation, watery eyes, and commonly, blurry vision.


Dry eye happens when your eyes produce an insufficient amount of tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. When there isn’t enough moisture on the eye’s surface, it can cause irritation and inflammation to the cornea—the transparent outer layer of the eye, which is responsible for focusing light that enters the eye, like a magnifying glass.

Tear Film Imbalance

When your eyes don’t produce tears effectively, the surface of the cornea may not remain smooth and stable, causing light rays to scatter and images to appear blurry. The tear film is a naturally balanced mixture of 3 layers:

  • The outermost oil layer

  • The middle water layer

  • The innermost mucus layer

Each layer has a role to play in keeping the surface of your eyes nourished, healthy, and comfortable.

  • The mucus layer helps spread the tears across the eye’s surface evenly. When there isn’t enough mucus present, tears may not adhere to the surface of the eye, which can cause them to spread unevenly and result in a distorted, blurry image.

  • The water layer hydrates your eyes and rinses away particles and debris that don’t belong.

  • The oil layer locks in moisture and prevents it from evaporating too quickly. The most common form of dry eye results from problems with the tear film mixture, specifically the oil layer.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Your meibomian glands are the oil glands along your eyelid margins that produce the oil component of the tear film. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can occur when these oil glands become blocked.

If the oily layer of the tear film is impacted, the aqueous middle layer may not last long on the eye’s surface, which can reduce the volume of tears for the mucus layer to spread on the eye and can cause blurred vision.


Many factors can contribute to dry eye syndrome, including:

  • Too much screen time

  • Contact lens wear

  • Hormonal changes

  • Blepharitis

  • Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants, birth control, or antihistamines

  • Environmental factors, such as wind, smoke, or air conditioning

Since there are so many potential causes, it’s important to speak to your optometrist to identify the cause of your blurry vision and dry eye.


Thankfully, there are many treatments for dry eye, including:

  • Over-the-counter eye drops

  • Nutritional supplements

  • Eyelid hygiene products

  • In-office treatments

Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

Over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops can be an accessible and affordable way to treat dry eye disease. They are available in many forms, including drops, gels, and ointments. OTC eye drops can provide lubrication and hydration to the eyes by mimicking natural tears, which help relieve dryness and discomfort.

When choosing OTC eye drops, consider how often you’ll use them. Preservative-free artificial tears can be a good choice because preservatives may irritate your eyes, leading to further dryness and discomfort. Your optometrist can recommend suitable eye drops for your dry eye treatment, or they may recommend prescription drops or another form of treatment.

Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids can support good eye health, and studies have shown that omega-3 supplements can help relieve dry eye symptoms. This is because omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatory agents that can reduce eye irritation and improve their function by reducing dryness and discomfort.

Omega-3 supplements can be found in fish oil capsules or vegan capsules or liquids. You can also get your omega-3 from eating fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel.

Eyelid Hygiene Products

Eyelid hygiene products, like eyelid wipes or foaming cleansers, can clean the eyelids and prevent debris buildup that can cause dry eye symptoms. These products can benefit those who suffer from blepharitis, an inflammatory condition of the eyelids that can exacerbate dry eye syndrome.

Eyelid hygiene is particularly important for people who wear eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner. Not removing your makeup thoroughly can block the meibomian glands, worsen dry eye symptoms, and cause blepharitis.

In-Office Meibomian Gland Treatment

In-office MGD treatment can effectively treat dry eye syndrome. This treatment involves gentle gland stimulation using special tools and pressure to unblock the oil glands in the eyelids. By clearing these glands, your eyes can produce healthy, fresh oil to help your tears lubricate and hydrate your eyes.


Dry eye syndrome is an irritating and sometimes uncomfortable condition that can cause many symptoms, including blurry vision. Fortunately, dry eye can be detected in an eye exam, and we can find solutions to help ease your symptoms based on the underlying cause.

If you’re experiencing dry, gritty, burning eyes, know that it’s common—but not normal. You can find lasting relief with the right solutions by booking an appointment with Vista Eyecare.