What Are the Complications of Untreated Dry Eye Syndrome?

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Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2016 by Dr. Robert Mack

The eye needs a continuous supply of tears to keep it healthy and comfortable. Unfortunately, many people suffer from dry eyes. Having dry eyes may be caused by poor tear quality, inadequate tear production, or rapid evaporation of tears. While dry eyes are only a minor, occasional problem for some patients, others require treatment to prevent the possible complications of this eye care problem.

Decreased Quality of Life

Unless patients seek treatment for dry eyes, they are likely to experience a decline in quality of life, particularly if they have severe symptoms. Dry eye symptoms typically include an uncomfortable sensation of the eyes often described as stinging, burning, or scratching. Light sensitivity, eye redness, eye irritation, and blurry vision are also possible. Additionally, patients may have trouble driving at night, wearing contact lenses, reading, and carrying out other basic day-to-day activities.

Eye Infections

Tears help the eyes feel more comfortable, but they are also crucial for supporting good eye health. Without an adequate amount of moisture, eyes are more susceptible to contracting infections. Patients who develop a possible eye infection should consult an ophthalmologist promptly. The symptoms of a bacterial or other type of eye infection may include redness, swelling, and itchiness of the eye, along with increased tearing, eye discharge, and crust formation. An ophthalmologist may prescribe medications to treat an infection. Some eye infections can be quite serious and may affect a patient’s vision.

Surface Damage

The cornea is the dome-shaped surface located in front of the iris. It helps protect the eye, and it refracts the light entering the eye. The cornea does not have a blood supply of its own. It needs a constant supply of tears to protect and nourish it. Patients with dry eyes who do not receive treatment are at an increased risk of developing damage to the corneal surface. They may experience eye inflammation, corneal surface abrasions, corneal ulcers, and vision problems. A corneal abrasion, which is a scratch on the surface, can cause eye pain, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, loss of vision, and the sensation of having a foreign body in the eye.