Am I Suffering From Allergies or Dry Eyes?

Dry eye syndrome and allergic conjunctivitis are two different conditions that are difficult to differentiate. Some of their symptoms are similar and can easily confuse you without medical intervention. However, there is a chance that you may suffer the two conditions simultaneously. Both conditions make wearing contact lenses unbearable.


Symptoms of Ocular Allergies

Ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis are not contagious like conjunctivitis that is viral or bacterial. One symptom that separates ocular allergies from other eye problems is itchiness. This issue can easily exacerbate when you rub your eyes. It may seem to give some relief from the tears that your rubbing creates. If you do not experience itchiness, you might be suffering from a different ocular condition.

With allergies, the skin surrounding your eyes seems puffy. You can also have allergic shiners that are dark circles under your eyes. You can also experience constant welling up of tears in your eyes. Because of the discomfort of the condition, you may want to rub the wateriness out of your eyes. This can cause a burning sensation and make the redness in your eyes worse.


Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome can sometimes be a sign of menopause. You may also be suffering from a disease that interrupts your body’s ability to naturally produce tears. Such diseases may be rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Dry eye syndrome can also occur as a side effect of some forms of medication. Some of these medications include sleeping pills, pain killers, decongestants, anxiety medication, antihistamines, and many more.

Some symptoms of dry eye syndrome are:

  • A burning or stinging sensation in the eyes.
  • Pain and redness in the eyes.
  • Droopy eyelids.
  • A feeling of foreign objects in your eyes.
  • Weird discharge from your eyes.
  • Reflex tearing after an extensive period of dry eyes.


Dry Eye Syndrome and Watery Eyes

An interesting fact that you may not know is that both dry eye syndrome and ocular allergies can sometimes result in watery eyes. In dry eye syndrome, low-quality tears have low contents of water. The few tears that are there wipe off when you blink. This means that your little tears are insufficient to keep your eyes moist and comfortable. The resulting uncomfortable feeling may sometimes lead to a temporary flood of tears.

With dry eye syndrome, the temporary flood of tears comes after you feel your eyes are scratchy or dry. With ocular allergies, on the other hand, a temporary flood of tears is a sign of exposure to an allergen.


Modes of Treatment

Treatment is different for both of these conditions. Treatment of eye allergies involves the use of eye drops, antihistamine, cool compresses, or mast cell stabilizers. The main thing to do with ocular allergies is to keep away from the allergens that cause the reaction. In dry eye syndrome, the treatment involves the use of tear lubricants. Your doctor can also opt to treat the underlying inflammation and Meibomian glands.

If you wear contact lenses, you may have to switch to materials resilient to drying out. You can also opt to wear disposable contact lenses.



There are several other forms of treatments available for both conditions. However, some of them are still at the stage of clinical trials.

If you need more on eye problems, visit Eye Care Center at any of our offices in Fridley, Maplewood, or Maple Grove, Minnesota. You can also call (763) 308-8440, (651) 777-3555, or (763) 420-6981 to book an appointment today.

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