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Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes?

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Woman rubbing her eyes.

If you experience dry eyes, you are not alone. All over Canada, Canadians are experiencing symptoms from dry eyes. One of the reasons that you could be experiencing dry eye, could be allergies. Certain allergies can cause dry eyes and can be one of the underlying causes of your dry eyes

Allergies could be one of the many reasons that you are experiencing dry eye, but there are many other factors that could be impacting your symptoms. In order to understand what is causing your dry eye, your optometrist can diagnose your condition so that it can be treated properly. 

When you have allergies which cause you to experience dry eyes, it is different than when you have eye allergies. There are symptoms that you can mistake for having dry eyes but there is a difference and you could be experiencing an eye allergy. 

Eye Allergy and Dry Eyes

Having eye allergies can give you symptoms that are similar to dry eye. One of the most common symptoms that you will encounter is itchiness. Having an eye allergy is known as allergic conjunctivitis. Itchiness is the symptom that sets this condition apart from others. When our eyes get itchy, our automatic response is to rub them. This can cause the eye to get puffy and red causing many people to think the issue is linked to another condition. Itchiness of the eye is what sets this condition apart from others. When you rub your eyes, it can also cause your eyes to water more than normal. Since this is a symptom of dry eye, it can be easily mistaken.

Dry Eyes and Allergies – What Are Some of the Connections?

Dry eyes from allergies can have certain triggers, but will still produce the same symptoms for your dry eyes, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell where the root cause is coming from. Some ways to understand if you have dry eyes due to allergies, is to take note of when you are experiencing this condition. 

 There are some common environmental factors and irritants that can cause you to have dry eyes. Potential triggers can include some of the following:

  • Perfume
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Tree pollen, weeds or grass

Depending on what you are allergic to, you may be able to make changes to your lifestyle to alleviate your symptoms. If you are able to eliminate some of the environmental factors and find that your condition changes and you are having relief from dry eyes, this will help you to treat your condition. While dry eye can be a chronic condition for some people, if it is connected to allergies, the allergies must be what is treated, which will result in alleviating the dry eye you are experiencing. 

Up close image of an irritated eye.

How Do I Know if I Have Dry Eyes? 

Every day our eyes produce moisture or tears on a regular basis to keep the eyes lubricated. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or tears that are of adequate quality, which can lead to discomfort and irritation. For many people, this is a chronic condition. Other potential reasons that you be having dry eyes are:

  • Aging – many people over the age of 50 will start to see a decrease in tear production
  • Certain medical conditions and diseases – lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency are some of the underlying causes that can cause you to have dry eyes
  • Medications – there are many medications and prescriptions that have a side effect of dry eyes. When you are taking a new medication, you may start having dry eyes. When you are finished taking or stop taking these medications, it could clear up your symptoms.

When you are experiencing dry eyes, there are many symptoms that you could be experiencing. You could be suffering from one or more symptoms of dry eyes at one time. Some common symptoms are:

  • Eye redness 
  • Sandy, scratchy or gritty feeling
  • Changes in your vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Stinging or burning feeling
  • Sensitivity to light and difficulty seeing in low, dim or at night
  • Irritation when blinking

Do I Treat Dry Eyes From Allergies Differently?

When you have dry eyes, it is important to know what the cause is so that you can treat the symptoms properly. If you are experiencing dry eyes that are caused by allergies, you must treat the allergy. By treating the allergy, you could also be treating your dry eye.

Learn More

When it comes to your eye health, the optometrists at Calgary Optometry Center are here to guide you. If you are unsure what is causing your dry eyes or want to learn more, the optometrists are here to help guide you to the right treatment option.

Speak to one of our doctors today so that they can help you on your way to better eye health.

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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