How Do You Know If You Have Dry Eye or Allergies?

Mar 1, 2024

Are your eyes constantly red, itchy, and irritated but you can’t tell if it’s dry eye or allergies? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Both dry eye and allergies have similar symptoms, making it difficult to differentiate between them. However, understanding the key differences between the two conditions can help you figure out what’s causing your symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about allergies, dry eye, and how to tell the difference. 

Understanding allergies 

First, let’s talk about what allergies are. Allergies happen when your eyes come into contact with allergens like pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Your immune system triggers an allergic reaction in response to these allergens, causing your eyes to become inflamed. Symptoms of allergies include red, itchy eyes, puffiness and swelling, tearing, runny nose, and congestion.  

Understanding dry eye 

On the other hand, dry eye happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears or produce poor-quality tears. This lack of lubrication can make your eyes feel uncomfortable and irritated. Signs of dry eye include a stinging or burning feeling in your eyes, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, a gritty sensation (like there’s sand in your eyes), or difficulty wearing contact lenses. 

Distinguishing between the two 

So, how do you differentiate between these two conditions? One key difference is how itchy your eyes feel with each condition. Both dry eye and allergies can make your eyes itch, but allergies usually cause more intense itchiness compared to dry eye. Also, if you notice that your symptoms get worse during specific times of the year (like hay fever season), it’s probably allergies rather than dry eye. 

Another difference between dry eye and allergies is the type of discharge produced by the eyes. People with allergies usually notice a thin watery discharge, while those dealing with dry eyes might experience a thicker, more stringy discharge. 

Seek professional help 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms frequently or for an extended period, it’s best to see an eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye exam, assess your symptoms, and determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. Based on their findings, they can recommend the best course of treatment. 

In conclusion, it’s important to recognize the differences between dry eye and allergies to receive proper treatment. At Newport Eye Care, our experienced eye doctors in Waterville and Newport, Maine specialize in diagnosing and treating a wide range of eye conditions, including dry eye. We customize dry eye treatment to meet the specific needs of every patient. Don’t let dry eyes or allergies interfere with your daily life; contact us today to schedule an appointment! 

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