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

Are you dealing with itchy, red, and irritated eyes? Are you having trouble figuring out if it’s allergies or dry eye? It can be tough to differentiate between the two since they have similar symptoms. However, understanding the differences is crucial in determining the right treatment for your eyes.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can figure out whether it’s dry eye or allergies. We’ll also talk about the signs of each condition and how to effectively treat them. 

Understanding dry eye 

Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or the quality of your tears is poor. The main symptom is a persistent dry feeling in your eyes. You might also experience burning, stinging, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, or a gritty sensation in your eyes.  

Understanding allergies 

Allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to allergens like pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. The most common allergy symptom affecting the eyes is itching, which can be severe enough to cause discomfort and pain. Other symptoms include redness, swelling (especially around the eyelids), tearing or watering eyes, and sensitivity to light. 

Distinguishing between the two 

One way to tell if it’s dry eye or allergies is to look at when and how often the symptoms occur. Dry eye symptoms usually persist throughout the day, while allergies may get worse at specific times or in certain situations, like being around pets. 

While both conditions share similar symptoms, such as redness and irritation, itching tends to be more intense with allergies. Allergies may also cause puffy and swollen eyelids and a runny nose or congestion. 

When to seek professional help 

If you’re not sure whether it’s dry eye or allergies based on your symptoms alone, it’s best to see an eye doctor. They can run tests to determine the cause of your eye discomfort. 

For dry eye, common treatments include: 

  • Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops 
  • Prescription medications to increase tear production 
  • Punctal plugs to retain moisture in your eyes 

For allergies, common treatments include: 

  • Avoiding allergens if possible 
  • Antihistamine medications 
  • Decongestant eyedrops 
  • Allergy shots or immunotherapy 

In conclusion, it’s important to know if it’s dry eye or allergies so you can get the right treatment for your eyes. At Giles Eye Care, our experienced optometrist in Portland, Maine specializes in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions, including eye allergies and dry eye. Schedule an appointment with us today!