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If a squeeze of your eyes helps your visual clarity, you might have Dry Eye

Woman with problems of visual clarity at risk of dry eye

If you have just invested in new glasses or contact lenses but not addressed your dry eye you could be missing a trick

Dry eye impacts your quality of life in many ways – including your vision quality. A loss of visual performance can reduce your ability to perform everyday tasks such as reading and driving. You may have noticed your vision is ‘unstable’, especially towards the end of the day, and it improves if you squeeze your eyelids closed and open your eyes again. This is a common symptom of dry eye and may indicate you need help. So if you think your new glasses or contact lenses need changing, hold fire! It might be that you just need to give your tears a boost.

Why dry eye causes you to lose visual clarity?

This is because one of the roles of your tears is to help your eyes focus. Your tears spread over the surface of the eye forming a smooth even layer which accounts for around 70% of your eyes focusing power. If your tears become disrupted and no longer present an even surface your vision will become compromised. Imagine looking at a reflection in a pool and then drop in a small pebble – the picture will immediate be distorted by the ripples.

It is not just the smooth surface that makes the difference, the thickness of your layer of tears also contributes to your eyes power to focus.

Keep blinking! Every time you blink your eyelid is behaving like a tiny windscreen wiper clearing dirt and debris away and leaving your eye ready to receive light from the images around you. When you squeeze your eyes shut you are helping express extra fresh tears to compensate for the effect of a dry eye. Certain activities, like reading, slow your blink rate causing your tear quality to become compromised – so keep blinking!

Dry eye drops at the ready!

Studies have been carried out which show that the use of eye drops can help to correct this loss of visual acuity in those with dry eye. Comparisons have also been made between those with and without dry eye and the level of visual disturbances or aberrations. The research showed that higher levels of visual disturbances are experienced by people with dry eye.

A good eye drop will help ensure your tears are thickened with moisture, it is easy to envisage how this will also help with the quality of your vision too. However, if you are using an eye drop on a regular basis (more than once a day) you need to make sure you select one which is free from preservatives and with ingredients which are specifically developed to help rebalance the ocular environment of a dry eye. You can learn more about what sort of eye drop is best suited for the management of dry eye here.

What else should you do?

As well as using a dry eye drop regularly throughout the day you can also help improve your tear quality by stimulation your natural tear production, here is some general advice but there are different types of dry eye so Dry Eye Zone would always recommend a visit to see your eye care professional first.

1. Maintain a high level of eye lid hygiene using a specialist cleaner to make sure those special glands stay unblocked and any dirt and debris is removed

2. Gently massage your eye lids to promote the flow of your natural tears

3. Treat your eyes to a hot compress to get the oils flowing

4. Always thoroughly remove make-up at night using a dry eye friendly cleanser

Other symptoms may be experienced

When your tears are not being produced as they should you can experience a wide range of ocular sensations – not just blurry vision. The list of symptoms can be varied (dry, tired, sore, gritty, red, burning, stinging, watery and heavy feeling eyes) are all reported by sufferers. This is one of the reasons that it is not always diagnosed straight away.

Make that appointment and take control

There are other eye conditions which could be the cause of blurred vision but if the blurring is transitory and improved with a good blink then this would suggest it might be a symptom of dry eye. Make an appointment with your optician today to confirm the cause and receive expert advice to manage your dry eye symptoms and help prevent this condition from progressing.

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms then you should ask the advice of your eye care professional. Why not book your next eye examination with an independent optician today.


Uchino M, Schaumberg DA. Dry Eye Disease: Impact on Quality of Life and Vision. Curr Ophthalmol Rep. 2013 Jun;1(2):51-57. doi: 10.1007/s40135-013-0009-1. PMID: 23710423; PMCID: PMC3660735.

Herbaut A, Liang H, Rabut G, Trinh L, Kessal K, Baudouin C and Labbé A. Impact of Dry Eye Disease on Vision Quality: An Optical Quality Analysis System Study. Translational Vision Science & Technology. July 2018, Vol.7, 5. doi:

Montés-Micó R. Role of the tear film in the optical quality of the human eye. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2007; 33: 1631–1635.

Montes-Mico R et al. IMPROVING OPTICAL QUALITY WITH ARTIFICIAL TEARS. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today Europe. September 2010

D'Souza S, Annavajjhala S, Thakur P, Mullick R, Tejal SJ, Shetty N. Study of tear film optics and its impact on quality of vision. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020 Dec;68(12):2899-2902. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_2629_20. PMID: 33229666; PMCID: PMC7857002.

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