Allergies can often be confused for a chronic condition of dry eyes. Knowing the difference can be very useful when trying to deal with and treat the problem. The symptoms of both are similar, but they’re very different problems. And they require different approaches. Worst of all, it’s not uncommon for some people to actually suffer from both dry eye and allergies at the same time.
Tears are a saline based solution produced for the eyes. When the tears aren’t produced in sufficient quantity, or if the composition of tears produced by the body isn’t right, dry eye can occur. Tears normally include water, lipids, and mucin. Lipids help prevent tear evaporation, and hold the tears in the eye longer before spilling out. Many dry eye conditions relate to low lipid levels in a patient’s tears.
An allergic condition is when tearing and burning symptoms are experienced after exposure to an irritating substance. Eye allergies are normally annoying, but not medically harmful. Histamine production when coming into contact with the allergen produces the telltale symptoms of itching, swelling, and redness. Most allergens are environmental, and usually don’t require medical intervention.
Treating both often involves a bit of investigation, and trial and error. Doctors might prescribe oral antihistamines, lubricating drops, or look for anatomical solutions that might involve more direct measures.