Is It Seasonal Allergies or Dry Eye Syndrome?

It’s officially summertime and the world seems a little brighter and in full bloom. Unfortunately for many of us, that beauty is accompanied by unpleasant symptoms like itchy, watery eyes. During this time of year, it can be easy to assume you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, however, it’s also possible you could be experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Here are some key differences between the two and what you should know about treating them.

Though the symptoms of allergies and dry eye syndrome may seem similar, they do have differences. Here are some things you should look for:

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • A gritty feeling like something is in your eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye stinging or burning
  • Stringy discharge from the eyes
  • Periods of excessive watering after periods of a dry sensation (reflex tearing)
  • Eye pain and redness
  • Heavy-feeling eyelids

Dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors including menopause or diseases that have been known to affect tear production like lupus or arthritis. Dry eye is also a common side effect of certain medications. Some medications that reduce tear secretion include antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medicine, anti-anxiety medicines, sleeping pills, and pain relievers.

Symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Itchy eyes (most common symptom)
  • Eye stinging or burning
  • Eye redness
  • Watery discharge from the eyes and possibly a runny nose
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swollen eyelids

Obviously, allergy symptoms will develop shortly after being exposed to an allergen. This time of year that typically means pollen or mold. You will likely notice these symptoms worsening in spring and fall, especially if you’re spending time outside. If you are allergic to pet dander you may also experience symptoms inside the house as well.

Your allergies may also be accompanied by non-eye related symptoms too such as sneezing, a scratchy throat, or a runny or stuffy nose.

It seems odd but allergies and dry eye syndrome involve watery eyes from time to time. When it comes to dry eye, it just means your eyes are not producing quality tears, usually due to decreased water content. Luckily there are treatment options available for allergies and dry eye syndrome. If you’re not quite sure what’s bothering your eyes, make an appointment with us. We’d love to discuss your options.

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