Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes?
Itchy, red eyes are the telltale signs of both allergies and dry eye syndrome. For many years, experts thought of these health conditions as separate. However, it turns out they actually have something in common: the seasons.
What Is the Link Between Allergies and Dry Eyes?
A 2015 study compared the monthly prevalence of dry eye cases over five years against an allergy index. What they discovered were some correlations between the two. They found that cases of dry eye and pollen counts reached their annual peak in April. They also learned that the overall seasonal spike of dry eye cases happens every spring. Another spike occurs in winter, which is most likely caused by low humidity due to indoor heating. Lastly, the team observed that the prevalence of dry eye was lowest in summer.
Uncovering this link helps shed light on the environmental factors that trigger dry eyes. Doctors can now better help patients treat dry eye symptoms based on the season. For example, using air filters indoors and wearing safety goggles when gardening can keep your dry eyes from worsening during spring allergy season. Using a humidifier during the colder months can also help lessen irritation common in dry eyes during winter.
How Do Seasonal Allergies Compound Dry Eye
Some of the common symptoms of dry eyes include itchiness, dryness, excessive watering, sensitivity to light, eye fatigue, fluctuating vision, and the feeling as if a foreign body is in the eye. Seasonal allergies could show the same signs, but the hallmark is itchiness. If your eyes are sensitive to allergens, such as pollen or pet dander, histamine is released. This immune response causes your eyes to itch, water, and redden.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies are similar to dry eye syndrome. That’s why it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two. Pollen allergies trigger discomfort during springtime. It just so happens that dry eye syndrome also spikes during this season.
Dry eye symptoms can get worse as you spend more time outside during the spring and summer seasons. Your use of sunscreen, exposure to sunlight, sweat, and dust can irritate your eyes more. Pollen and other particles during these periods can also cause dry eye syndrome or worsen your existing symptoms. In some cases, a person may suffer from both allergies and dry eyes.
What Can You Do to Alleviate the Symptoms at Home?
Whether you have seasonal allergies or dry eyes, you can avoid triggering factors that make your condition worse. Aside from pollen, some of the common culprits include dry air, wind, and smoke.
Protect your eyes by wearing protective goggles when dusting, working in a woodshop, or doing yard work. Practice an eye-friendly lifestyle. These include taking frequent breaks from working on a computer or doing detail work. Eat foods rich in fatty acids and avoid secondhand smoke. Most importantly, seek routine eye care. Prevent problems by staying current on your annual eye exams.
Treatment varies depending on the condition that affects your eyes. While allergies may cause dry eyes, a correct diagnosis is essential. Visit Maple Eye and Laser Center today to schedule your consultation. Call our Westchester or Manhattan Offices in New York at (914) 948-5157.