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What Are the Long-term Effects of Untreated Dry Eye?

What Are the Long-term Effects of Untreated Dry Eye?

What Are the Long-term Effects of Untreated Dry Eye?

What Are the Long-term Effects of Untreated Dry Eye?

Chronic dry eye is a condition where the eyes fail to produce enough tears or produce only poor-quality tears. The uncomfortable condition causes a burning sensation, grittiness, extreme eye dryness, and excessive tearing. It can also lead to blurry vision and light sensitivity.

The severity of the condition varies in individuals. Various treatments can help relieve the symptoms and soothe the eyes.


Corneal Ulcers


Tears are essential to keep the eye surface healthy and well-nourished. They help clear the eyes of debris. Chronic lack of tears can lead to various complications. Failing to treat dry eye can cause corneal ulcers. Debris and other particles can get into the eyes. A healthy tear film helps wash away the debris with no harm. 

But when the eyes are dry, the particles can scratch the eye’s surface. Bacteria can get into the scratch, leading to infection. Ulcers or open sores develop on the cornea, the clear outer eye layer. If untreated, the ulcers can cause scarring.



Another long-term complication of untreated dry eye is conjunctivitis. It is an inflammation of the inner eyelid surface and the clear cells covering the white of the eye (conjunctiva). 

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include eye redness, a gritty sensation, eye discharge, and light sensitivity. The condition is different from the more common bacterial conjunctivitis. If the inflammation fails to improve or worsens, it is crucial to get treatment. 




People with chronic dry eye or who have worn contact lenses for too long are susceptible to keratitis. It is an eye condition characterized by cornea inflammation. If not treated, it can affect the deep layers of the cornea. 

Symptoms include eye pain, redness, and blurry or reduced vision. Medications can help resolve the condition. If untreated, it can lead to corneal scarring, which can cause permanent vision loss. 


Difficulty Wearing Contacts


People with dry eyes find it difficult to wear regular contact lenses. The lenses lying directly on the cornea surface require moisture from healthy tears to ensure comfort. Eye dryness causes the lenses to dry out, leading to a gritty sensation, irritation, and redness. 

Dry lenses are hard to remove as they stick to the eyeball. Most people with chronic dry eye choose to wear eyeglasses instead. However, specialty contact lenses can help people with dry eye.


Photophobia or Light Sensitivity


Untreated dry eye can increase the risk of developing photophobia. Severe dry eye can make it hard to keep the eyes open. The condition causes extreme light sensitivity or photophobia. Patients experience the sensation of something in the eye. Artificial tears can help keep the eyes moisturized enough to stay open. However, most people still squint, especially when using digital devices or out in sunlight. 

Untreated dry eye can make it difficult to read or drive due to blurriness. Some may assume they need a stronger prescription when the issue is eye dryness. Blurriness can worsen to cause double vision. Many people find it difficult to work due to vision problems. If not treated, dry eye can lead to frequent headaches and depression.

For more on the long-term effects of untreated dry eye, visit Patel Vision Group at our Visalia, Salinas, Fresno, Monterey, Sacramento, Fair Oaks, or Roseville, California office. Call (916) 788-2960, (916) 966-4700, (916) 629-8033, (831) 375-7755, (831) 443-5250, (559) 229-7955, or (559) 739-8550 to schedule an appointment today.

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