Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes?

According to The Eye Institute of Utah, dry eyes and allergies are usually indistinguishable from one another. They usually have the same symptoms such as watery and red eyes. Many people have dry eyes and allergies at the same time. They usually wonder if their allergies are causing their dry eyes. If you are having the same confusing dilemma, here’s what you need to know.

The Similarities

Allergies and dry eyes are two different eye conditions. Yet, because of the similarities in their symptoms, some people and eye care providers cannot tell which is which.

Seasonal allergy symptoms:

  • Sensitivity to light.

  • Eye itchiness.

  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes.

  • Eyes have a watery discharge.

  • Swollen eyelids.

  • Nasal congestion and runny nose.

  • Eye redness.

Dry eyes symptoms:

  • Eye redness.

  • Eyes with stringy discharge.

  • Gritty feeling in the eye.

  • Eye dryness alternating with watery eyes.

  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes.

  • Blurred vision.

Symptoms of dry eyes and seasonal allergies tend to overlap. If you already have dry eyes, your discomfort may increase with the occurrence of your seasonal allergies.


The Correlation

When you spend more time outdoors during summer and spring, your dry eyes exacerbate. Sunscreen, sweat, sunlight, dust, or chlorine may irritate your eyes more. Studies show that 21 percent of dry eye syndrome occurs during April. A low number of dry eye cases happen after spring and summer. The gravity of your dry eyes depends on how badly your body reacts to seasonal allergens such as pollen. Airborne pollen that lingers during spring causes affected patients to show symptoms of allergies even throughout autumn.

Correct diagnoses for dye eye syndrome and seasonal ocular allergy are often challenging to eye doctors. This usually results in inappropriate therapy. Distinguishing dry eyes from ocular allergy is important to see if allergies truly worsen or trigger dry eyes.

The Link

Experts are looking into the morphology of meibomian glands in people who have long-term allergic conjunctivitis. The enduring allergies of these patients may subject their eyes to specific tissue transformations that lead to dry eye syndrome. In the past, eye doctors believed that dry eye symptoms make seasonal ocular allergies worse. Now, it seems that it’s the other way around.

Other scientists say that gland tortuosity (or twisting) develops in the meibomian glands of seven-year-old patients who have allergic conjunctivitis. The convolutions in these glands make your tear production inadequate. If you are suffering from long-standing ocular allergy, you may be at risk of developing atopic keratoconjunctivitis and vernal keratoconjunctivitis as well.

Certain behaviors or habits from our chronic allergies may contribute to the changes in your meibomian glands. Eye rubbing may distort and compress these glands, making you prone to having dry eyes. Studies also suggest that genetics can trigger certain changes in the structures of your meibomian glands.

Yes, seasonal ocular allergies can cause dry eyes. At the Eye Care Center, we are knowledgeable and equipped in diagnosing and treating seasonal allergies and dry eye syndrome. Please visit our clinics in Fridley, Maplewood, and Maple Grove, Minnesota, for a one-on-one consultation. You can also call us at 763-308-8440 (Fridley), 651-777-3555 (Maplewood), or 763-420-6981 (Maple Grove). That way, we can help schedule your appointment or answer your questions about seasonal ocular allergies and dry eyes.

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