If you’re one of the millions of Americans who deal with chronically dry eyes, you likely know how uncomfortable it can be. This discomfort can be magnified if you’re dealing with other conditions at the same time.
One condition that can accompany dry eyes that some assume is caused by them is floaters. But even though they sometimes develop simultaneously, dry eyes do not cause floaters. That being said, they do share a common risk factor and cause that can lead to them happening together.
Fortunately, floaters don’t always need to be treated if they aren’t bothering you. But an eye doctor can diagnose the root issue of your dry eyes and recommend the best treatment after performing a comprehensive eye examination.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye disease, or syndrome, is a common disease affecting millions of Americans. It’s commonly referred to as simply “dry eye.” While many things can cause the condition, which we’ll cover below, there are two primary types of dry eye: a lack of tear production (aqueous deficiency) or premature tear evaporation (evaporative).
Causes of Dry Eye
Whether a person is dealing with evaporative or aqueous deficiency, the cause may vary slightly. But the causes of dry eye include:
- Not blinking enough
- Eyelid issues, such as the eyelids turning outward or inward
- Medical conditions like Sjorgen’s syndrome, autoimmune disorders, vitamin A deficiency, or host disease
- Various medications like blood pressure meds, birth control, hormone replacement therapy, or allergy medicines
- Eye allergies
- Environmental conditions like wind, smoke, or dry air
- Preservatives in eye drops
Is There a Link Between Dry Eye and Floaters?
If dry eyes don’t cause floaters, then what is the link? The answer: they share a common cause that is unavoidable, aging. This isn’t to say that getting older guarantees floaters or dry eyes. Still, our risk for either condition certainly starts going up.
There are other causes for floaters, such as eye injury or infections. In the context of this article, age is the binding link between the conditions, though.
Treating Dry Eye
Typically dry eye treatments revolve around dealing with the symptoms rather than “curing” the condition. Quite often, a preservative-free lubricating eye drop is enough to relieve a person’s symptoms.
But for more specific or severe cases, the eye doctor can prescribe or recommend several treatments that include:
- Meibomian gland expression
- Light therapy
- Hot compresses
- Humidifier in your home
- Prescription medicines to help with inflammation or tear production
- Diet changes to include more vitamin A and fatty acids
If your symptoms aren’t too severe, it’s worth trying a couple of these home remedies, like humidifiers or over-the-counter eye drops, before visiting the eye doctor. But suppose your symptoms are sudden and severe. In that case, it’s a good idea to see your optometrist to ensure there’s nothing else going on with your eyes.
Complication From Dry Eye
In most cases, there are no severe or lasting complications from dry eye other than discomfort. But if the condition is left untreated, a couple of potential complications include:
- Infection: In addition to lubricating the eye, the tear film is also responsible for forming a protective barrier on the cornea. If you have an inadequate tear film for any reason, this increases the risk of infections.
- Damage: When our eyes or eyelids move, the tear film ensures everything is lubricated to reduce friction. Chronically dry eyes can actually suffer corneal abrasion if left untreated.
Unfortunately, treating your dry eye won’t get rid of the floaters. That being said, floaters don’t need to be treated in many cases because they won’t automatically cause vision problems.
Suppose you’re dealing with floaters that begin affecting your daily activities. In that case, there is a procedure that you can discuss with your eye doctor called a vitrectomy. This procedure involves the doctor removing the damaged vitreous fluid from your eye.
One thing worth mentioning is that a floater could be a sign of more serious eye disease and conditions. So, it’s important that you see your eye doctor for an eye exam if you suddenly notice floaters.
Discuss Treatment Options With Your Eye Doctor
Other than a routine eye exam, sudden floaters in your vision or uncomfortable and chronic dry eyes are a couple of great reasons to make an extra visit to the eye doctor. If you’re dealing with either of these things, give us a call at Family Eyecare Center today.
Our professional team is available to answer your questions, or you can request an appointment with one of our eye doctors to discuss the problem.