Eye Allergies vs. Dry Eye

By Gordon Wong, OD on November 20, 2018

Woman with outdoor seasonal allergies rubbing eyesMany individuals suffer from red, stinging, itchy eyes. These uncomfortable warning signs could be a sign of dry eye syndrome, eye allergies, or both.

At Gordon Wong Eye Designs and Optometry in La Jolla, CA, our team explores eye allergies vs. dry eye. We also explain the relationship between the two, as well as common causes, symptoms, and treatments for these conditions.

About Eye Allergies

Clinically referred to as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies, this condition is triggered by certain irritants. For example, outdoor allergens (such as pollen and mold spores) and indoor allergens (such as pet dander and dust mites) can activate your body’s natural immune response.

Symptoms of Eye Allergies

Those suffering from eye allergies may experience any number of symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • A stinging or burning sensation
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity

About Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tears fail to produce sufficient lubrication.

 Tears are made up of lipids, mucin, and water. When one or more of these components is off-balance, it can result in uncomfortable symptoms.

In some cases, this can be due to certain medications. However, the majority of all dry eye cases are caused by Meibomian gland dysfunction. This condition causes a blockage of the Meibomian glands, which secrete lubricating oils onto the eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome

Patients suffering from dry eyes may experience a wide range of symptoms. Some of these may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Redness
  • A gritty sensation, or feeling as though something is in the eye
  • Excessive watering
  • Discharge from the eye

Allergies or Dry Eyes?

The warning signs of eye allergies and dry eye syndrome are quite similar. Therefore, it can be difficult to know which one is affecting you.

As a general rule, eye allergies are more common during the spring and summer months. Typically, their side effects begin to diminish once warmer weather is over. However, those with dry eyes usually experience symptoms year-round.

The surefire way to know which condition is causing discomfort is to schedule an assessment with an experienced eye doctor. Dr. Wong can determine the root cause of your condition and recommend a treatment option that will address your needs.

How Allergies Affect Dry Eyes

Though dry eyes and allergies are separate conditions, they can be related in certain cases. If you already suffer from dry eyes, then ocular allergies can exacerbate your symptoms.

Exposure to dust, sunlight, sunscreen, chlorine, sweat, or sand can further irritate the eyes.

Your Treatment Options

Whether you are suffering from dry eyes, ocular allergies, or both, our team at Gordon Wong Eye Designs and Optometry can help.

Generally, dry eye syndrome is treated with artificial tears or lubricating eye drops. In some cases, your doctor may recommend punctal plugs or other procedures.

If your symptoms are caused by eye allergies, an anti-inflammatory medication is typically recommended. Your doctor can help find a solution that is right for you.

Contact Gordon Wong Eye Designs and Optometry Today

If you frequently experience dry, burning, itchy, or watery eyes, schedule a visit at our practice today. Call us or contact us online anytime.

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