The potential consequences of untreated dry eye


Dry eye disease is a problem that gets worse over time.  Many people think that their dry, itchy and watery eyes are due to allergies.  Often it is dry eye disease.  You need to see an eye doctor who will examine you and tell you whether you have an allergy or dry eye disease.  With the correct diagnosis, you can benefit from the proper treatment and management and have a better quality of life. 


Eyes need a constant layer of tears to maintain and protect the surface of the eye. In people with dry eye, the tears cannot be produced in the right quantity or quality. This leads to insufficient tear film that can cause serious problems over time, like the following:


Corneal Scarring


The cornea is the clear dome the covers the colored part of the eye.  This part of the eye is responsible for many things, including focusing light that enters the eye so that you can see clearly.  In fact, this is the part of the eye that we reshape with orthokeratology in our Vancouver eye clinic to give you clear vision.  Corneal scarring is a permanent injury of the cornea that causes visual impairment like burring or even blindness.  If dry eye disease becomes severe, corneal scarring can happen. The scarring can be bad enough that a corneal transplant is the only way to restore lost vision.


Corneal Ulcers


Untreated dry eye disease is associated with corneal ulcers.  Corneal ulcers are open soars on the cornea and they cause tearing, pus, blurred vision and swelling of the eyes.


Reflex Tears


This is the biggest paradox of dry eye disease.  People say that if their eyes are dry, why do the tear up so often?  Tears are made of three layers: a mucous layer coating, an aqueous layer and an oily layer. When your tears are deficient in one of these three layers you develop dry eye disease.  When your eyes are dry you may suffer from chronic irritation on the surface of your eye. This causes reflex tears, which are produced to flush out irritants from the eye.  Reflex tears are watery and are not the same as normal healthy tears that are required to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable.


Vision Loss


Severe dry eye disease has been known to cause permanent vision loss.


Increased Susceptibility to Infection


Reduced tear production increases your risk of infection and inflammation because a normally functioning tear film works to fight infections in addition to keeping your eye hydrated.  That means that people with dry eye disease may be more at risk of eye infections and inflammation.


If you think you may be developing dry eye disease, see a dry eye doctor at a dry eye clinic like ours.  Dry eye disease can can be cured or managed to prevent the bad outcomes described in this article.

Eye Exam Videos and Info-graphics:

The connection between the eyes and chronic diseases like

Children's Vision

Saving a Mom's Vision

Life-Saving Eye Exam