Burning, scratchiness, and irritation of the eye are common symptoms of ocular allergies. They are also common warning signs of dry eye syndrome. These two common eye conditions present similar symptoms, but there are important differences between them.
It is important to understand these differences so you can receive the correct treatment. Dr. Masihdas offers both allergy and dry eye treatment at Utah Eye Associates in Salt Lake City, UT. Here, our team will explore dry eye vs. allergies so our patients can be well-informed about their eye health and treatment options.
About Dry Eye Syndrome
Tears lubricate the eyes and protect them from irritation. They are composed of water, lipid, and mucin. For tears to work properly, these components must be in balance. Most cases of dry eyes are due to insufficient lipid production. However, the condition can also be caused by certain medical conditions.
Symptoms of dry eye include redness and reflex tearing. Patients also commonly experience a burning sensation or a gritty feeling, as though there is something in their eyes.
About Eye Allergies
Ocular allergies are caused by sensitivities to substances that are not generally harmful. For example, many individuals find that their eyes become irritated from pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold spores.
Eye allergy symptoms include redness, tearing, and irritation. However, the primary symptom of ocular allergies is itchiness. When the eyes are irritated by a certain substance, histamine is released, leading to itchy eyes. Ocular allergies may be present alone or in conjunction with other allergy symptoms, such as a scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing, or dark circles under the eyes.
If you are unsure whether your symptoms are more indicative of ocular allergies or dry eyes, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation at our Salt Lake City practice. Dr. Masihdas can perform a comprehensive exam and determine which treatment option will be most beneficial for you.
Distinguishing the Difference: Why it Is Important
Knowing the difference between ocular allergies and dry eye syndrome is essential, as the treatments required for each are different. For example, antihistamine drops are beneficial for eye allergies, but they can actually make dry eye symptoms worse.
Common treatments for eye allergies include artificial lubricants, antihistamine drops, and cool compresses. If at all possible, patients should avoid contact with the allergen.
To soothe dry eye syndrome, the meibomian glands must be treated as well as the underlying inflammation. Tear lubricants can also help moisten the eyes and alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms.
A Note about Contact Lenses
Ocular allergies and dry eye syndrome can be especially challenging for individuals who wear contact lenses. There are several different types of contacts available, and some are specially designed to trap moisture and protect the surface of the eyes. Ask a team member for more information.
Contact Our Practice to Learn More
Whether you have dry eyes or ocular allergies, the symptoms can be frustrating and ultimately interfere with your quality of life. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation at our Salt Lake City practice, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 363-2851.