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Is There A Connection Between Dry Eyes and Floaters?

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Many people who have floaters also have dry eye syndrome, but are the two related?

Probably not. Floaters often emerge as a result of natural aging-related changes in the eyes, while dry eye syndrome is caused by poor tear quality or a lack of tear production. Medical conditions, allergies and dry air can all play a role.

What Are Floaters and It’s Symptoms?

Floaters are tiny specks that appear to float or swim in front of a person's eyes. Most floaters are  harmless, but the sudden onset of many floaters, often accompanied by flashes of light, is usually a sign of an eye emergency.

Symptoms of floaters include:

  • small shapes in the field of vision in one or both eyes that come and go
  • shapes that may appear as strands, spots or cobweb-like lines
  • small specks or shapes that move as the eyes are moving, or not moving
  • specks that become more evident when looking at something bright, such as the sky or white paper

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome and Its Symptoms?

Dry eye syndrome occurs if the eyes have poor quality tears or there aren’t enough tears to keep the eyes adequately lubricated. It frequently causes irritation, redness and, if left untreated, can damage the cornea.

Symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • blurry or fluctuating vision
  • excessive watering
  • irritation
  • redness of the whites of the eyes
  • scratchy or gritty feeling in the eye
  • sensitivity to light
  • stinging or burning sensation
  • strings of mucus in the eye

Are Floaters and Dry Eye Syndrome Connected?

There doesn’t seem to be a connection between dry eyes and floaters.

Floaters are usually part of the natural aging process. The vitreous, a gel-like substance, fills the center of the eye. Vitreous strands can clump together or get thicker as people age. The retina, which is the light-sensitive portion of the eye, is shadowed by these strands. Floaters emerge as shadows.

Dry eyes can occur as a result of poor tear quality or a lack of tear production. Dry eyes and floaters have some of the same risk factors, according to the American Optometric Association and the National Eye Institute, such as older age and diabetes. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing sight-threatening eye problems.

Both dry eye syndrome and floaters warrant a visit to your eye doctor. If you suffer from dry eyes or notice any floaters in your vision, contact Silicon Valley Eye Physicians in Sunnyvale.

At Silicon Valley Eye Physicians, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 408-739-6200 or book an appointment online to see one of our Sunnyvale eye doctors.

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Can floaters be treated?

People who develop floaters as they become older do not need treatment unless the floaters are interfering with their daily lives or causing visual problems. Vitrectomy surgery can minimize or eliminate floaters.

How is dry eye treated?

Dry eye treatment focuses on increasing tear production or maintaining tears in the eyes for extended periods of time. Depending on the cause and severity of your dry eye symptoms, your optometrist may recommend over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, special contact lenses, unblocking your eye’s oil glands or another treatment option.