What’s Causing Your Dry Eyes?
We’re in the heat of summer and you’re spending so much time outside. Nature is in full bloom with lovely trees, flowers and other greenery, but all that beauty comes with a cost for seasonal allergy sufferers.
Many people struggle with itchy, red and watery eyes for weeks-on-end. You might be constantly reaching for those over-the-counter allergy medications or artificial tears to find some relief...but are you even treating the right issue?
Yes, dry eyes are often caused by seasonal allergies, but you might also be suffering from something much more serious and difficult to treat. Dry Eye Syndrome, or DES, affects millions of people around the world and you need the help of an eye care professional to treat it effectively.
Dry Eye symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic include:
- A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
- Watery eyes, which is the body's response to the irritation of dry eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
Season Allergies VS Dry Eye Syndrome
Diagnosing the true cause of dry eyes isn’t easy. Seasonal allergies and DES trigger similar symptoms. Both ailments cause watery, itchy eyes and extreme discomfort. However, through extensive study, medical experts have identified tiny differences in symptoms that could help you and your eye doctor make the right diagnosis. While seasonal allergy sufferers complain about an itchy feeling, DES sufferers used the word “gritty” to describe their discomfort, almost like having sand in one’s eyes.
When making a diagnosis, it’s important to know what causes your seasonal allergy symptoms. When dust and pollen fly through the air, coming into contact with your body, you start producing a special compound called HIstamine, leading to inflammation in your eyes and throat. This is why your eyes get so watery and your nose starts to run. This is your body trying to get rid of excess tears.
This is also why allergy sufferers will take antihistamines, which can provide temporary relief from symptoms. However, if you suffer from DES, these antihistamines can actually make your symptoms worse!
So Do You Have Dry Eye?
The only true way to determine if you suffer from DES is to get a full exam from an eye care professional. They will help you find the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and work with you to create a customized treatment plan so you can start living your life again.
Treatments can range from prescription eye drops to more advanced procedures such as intense regulated light therapy.
Don’t waste your summer being scared of going outside! Embrace the beauty of nature. Whether it’s allergies or something more serious, talk to your eye care professional about treatment options for your dry eye symptoms.