Normally, when the eye is experiencing some irritation, resulting from a foreign substance, one of its first reactions is to produce tears to flush out the irritant before it causes damage to the eye. Some people are more sensitive to their environment and react to things like dust that does not irritate most people. Such people have what professionals call allergies. Allergies can be seasonal, or they can be present throughout a person’s life.
There are many types of allergies, one of them being eye allergies. One of the most common areas that allergens affect is the eyes. A high percentage of people with seasonal allergies experience eye irritation.
There are three categories of eye allergens: outdoor allergens, indoor allergens, and irritants. Outdoor and indoor allergens are visible to the human eye and include dust, pollen, and pet dander. Irritants such as smoke and exhaust fumes might be visible while perfume might not be, however, it is perceivable by smell.
The most common symptoms of allergies include:
· Itchy eyes.
· Watery eyes.
· Nasal congestion.
Another common condition that affects the eyes is dry eyes. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell whether a person has allergies or dry eyes because both conditions have similar symptoms, including watery eyes. Although its name suggests otherwise, people with dry eyes also produce tears. However, their tears evaporate more quickly than for people with allergies.
Tears consist of aqueous, lipids, and mucin. When a person has dry eyes, the eye is unable to produce a good amount of one of the components, in most cases, the lipids. The lipid is a fatty layer that holds tears in place. If the lipids are not enough the tear disintegrates and falls from the eye. People with dry eyes tend to have tears, but they occur in episodes, unlike allergies where they are continuous until the irritant disappears.
Dry eyes are not a symptom of eye allergies, but a person with eye allergies can also have dry eyes. A professional doctor can distinguish the conditions. There are scenarios when eye allergies can cause dry eyes. This only happens when a person’s allergies affect the meibomian glands, which produce lipids. Allergies can cause disorders such as atopic keratoconjunctivitis, which causes malfunctioning in the meibomian glands and therefore cause an individual to develop dry eyes.
There are also some over-the-counter medications for treating allergies that dry out the eyes. If this is the case, a doctor can give a prescription for eye drops that do not contain preservatives. Medications for eye allergies mostly come with a list of side effects. If one of the side effects is dry eyes, then the doctor can prescribe an alternative.
If you require further clarification on how allergies cause dry eyes or if you suspect that your allergies could be causing your eyes to dry out, please feel free to get in touch with us at Omaha Primary EyeCare. You can call us at 402-383-0780 to book an appointment or visit our offices in Omaha, Nebraska.