What Is the Difference Between Dry Eye and Allergies?

After sight problems, the two most common complaints patients have with their eyes are dry eyes and allergies. Symptoms of each can often be similar, so what is the difference between dry eye and allergies? Can you have both?

What Is Dry Eye?

Tears are not just “salt water.” Tears are actually comprised of three distinct parts: mucin, water, and lipids. Dry eye can occur when either too much mucin or water is produced or too little lipid is produced, leaving the tears imbalanced. Dry eyes can feel like they are burning, or you can feel like you have something in your eye – a grainy, rough feeling. Your eyes will also be red and may tear up.

Dry Eye Treatment

Treatment for dry eye is different than the treatment for allergies. Dry eye treatment starts with lifestyle changes and drops, but if the Meibomian glands are obstructed, they do not properly function. In this case, non-medical remedies will provide limited relief. We recommend LipiFlow dry eye treatment to remove the obstruction in the glands in order for the tears to get to the eye surface.

What Are Eye Allergies?

Allergies may also cause your eyes to be red and watery, but the main difference between dry and eye allergies is itching. The allergic response releases histamine into the body, which causes itchiness, redness, and swelling. It can also cause hives (large puffy welts) on the skin. Most allergic reactions are to substances like pollen, pet dander, or dust.

Eye Allergy Treatment

Antihistamines are often used to treat ocular allergies. Cold compresses, eye drops, and avoiding the cause of the allergy are also commonly used treatments.

The best thing that you can do for dry eyes or ocular allergies is to see your eye doctor. The Wilkinson Eye Center Dry Eye Clinic has many tools to evaluate the status of the function and structure of the glands to determine the nature and best treatment plan for you. Give us a call at (248) 334-4931 to schedule your consultation today! Wilkinson Eye Center has locations in Pontiac & Clarkston and serves all nearby areas in Michigan.

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