Do I Have Eye Allergies or Dry Eyes? Understanding the Difference By GW Eye Associates on April 22, 2023

woman using artificial tears on her dry eyesWith offices in La Jolla and Del MarCA, GW Eye Associates has helped numerous patients throughout San Diego County who’ve had issues with dry, itchy, and sensitive eyes. One question seems to come up frequently: what is the difference between dry eye and eye allergies?

Our eye doctors go over some of the basics when it comes to these two conditions. We’ll then discuss treatments for chronic dry eye as well as remedies for eye allergies. Just know that whatever condition you have, help is available.

What Is Dry Eye?

In basic terms, dry eye occurs when your tears are unable to properly lubricate your eyes. This could be caused by poor tear composition, reduced tear production, or rapid tear evaporation.

Common symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Stinging sensation of the eyes
  • Red eye
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

What Are Eye Allergies?

By contrast, eye allergies occur when something (an allergen) irritates a person’s eyes. Pollen is one type of allergen that could trigger an allergic reaction, for instance. In response, the eyes tend to water in order to fight off the allergen. This condition is also known as allergic conjunctivitis.

Common symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity

Differences Between These Conditions

Dry eye happens when your tears are not sufficient to keep your eyes moist.

Eye allergies occur when the eyes are irritated by an allergen in the eye.

Both may involve watery eyes and irritation, but the root causes of each condition are different.

Alleviating Dry Eye and Eye Allergies

Once your condition is properly diagnosed, a skilled ocular health professional can help you find relief.

Treatments for Dry Eye

There are different ways of treating dry eye. Artificial tears are usually helpful in soothing sore eyes and keeping the eyes lubricated. Punctual plugs could be placed if needed to help prevent premature drainage of eye moisture.

If your contacts exacerbate your dry eye symptoms, you can try changing your contact lenses or switching to new prescription glasses.

Treatments for Eye Allergies

The best treatment for eye allergies typically starts with identifying the allergen that causes problems and then helping you avoid that allergen.

Outside of prevention, there are different ways to minimize the symptoms of an eye allergy should one occur. Artificial tears and medicated eye drops can offer relief from irritation. Using oral antihistamines can also keep symptoms under control.

How Our San Diego County Eye Doctors Can Help

When you visit our optometry office in La Jolla or our vision and optical shop in Del Mar, our doctors can review your symptoms and determine the nature of your condition. We can then develop a custom treatment plan just for you.

Are You Experiencing Eye Discomfort? Contact Us Today

Do you have dry eye or severe eye allergies? Relief is available. To set up an appointment, contact our San Diego County eye care offices. We look forward to seeing you in person and helping you experience comfort again.

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GW Eye Associates

Our team at GW Eye Associates in La Jolla and Del Mar can provide a wide range of high-quality eye care services. Dr. Gordon G. Wong and Dr. Wildon C. Wong have over 45 years of combined experience and belong to several prestigious organizations, including:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • American Optometric Association

For more information about our services, contact our office online or call us at (858) 454-4699 today.

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