The Difference Between Dry Eye and Allergies

The two most commonly experienced eye related problems (not including needing glasses or contact lenses) are dry eyes and ocular allergies. Although some symptoms are similar, there are distinct differences between the two eye conditions. In fact, dry eye and ocular allergy can occur simultaneously. If you are a contact lens wearer, both dry eye and allergies can make wearing contact lenses more difficult.

Dry Eye

Tears are not made of just water. There are numerous components to tears, but think of them simply as having three layers – mucin, water and lipids. A dry eye situation occurs when either too little water/mucin is produced, or if too little lipid is produced. The lipid layer is the outer layer of the tears and its primary role is to prevent the tears from evaporating or spilling over the lid margins. The lipid layer is produced by glands on the edge of the lids called meibomian glands. The majority of dry eye is caused by a decrease in this lipid layer. Certain medical conditions can also cause dry eye. The most common symptoms include burning, a sandy, gritty feeling, redness and sometimes reflex tearing.

Allergies

While eye allergies can also cause redness and tearing, the main symptom is itching. An ocular allergy is caused by sensitivity to a substance that is not usually harmful. When the allergen interacts with cells called mast cells, a substance called histamine is released which causes itching, redness, and swelling. Most allergies are due to environmental factors like pollen, cat dander, dust mites, etc. There are also more serious ocular allergies that require medical intervention.

Treatment

Treatment is different for dry eye and ocular allergies. Dry eye treatment includes treating the meibomian glands, the underlying inflammation, and using tear lubricants. The treatment for ocular allergy includes using antihistamine/mast cell stabilizers (to prevent the release of histamine from the mast cells), artificial lubricants, cool compresses and avoidance of the allergen (if possible).

For contact lens wearers, your doctor may choose a contact lens with a material that is more resistant to drying out like CooperVision’s Proclear lenses. For allergy sufferers, wearing a 1 day disposable lens will give the best chance for successful lens wear. CooperVision’s Proclear 1 Day and Proclear 1 Day Multifocal lenses provide the best option as they are resistant to drying out and get replaced each day.

Many people use over- the- counter products to self- treat dry eye and ocular allergy problems. It is estimated that the cost of doing that exceeds the cost of prescription products which are more effective. If you feel that you have dry eye or ocular allergies, see your eye doctor for a complete evaluation and recommendations for the best treatment options.

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Comments

Eyes are the most important part of our body and give them proper care is our responsibility.You differentiate beautifully between Dry eye and Allergies here.Thanks for share their treatment therapy also!!

I ordered proclear lenses because my eyes are prone to drying out but the lenses fit my eyes weird and makes things a little bit blurry. On top of that I feel like they dry out more almost as soon as I put them in. I drank a beer yesterday and my contacts dried out so bad that I had to keep re-wetting them every 10 minutes. I can hardly drink alcohol with contacts in because the alcohol dries my eyes out so bad so I thought that pro clear would help with the symptoms but again I was lied to by a nicely descriptive paragraph praising the proclear lens obviously written by someone who is a phony and just doing it to market the product. They were highly uncomfortable at work yesterday and today and felt that one of them is scratching my eye even though the lens looks fine and non defective . I contacted lens.com so I'm hoping I can exchange them or get a refund even though my prescription is now expired. The whole Eyecare industry is just as greedy as everyone else making and selling A product that doesn't actually work like it claims, and requiring users to go to the doctor every year just to be told the same crap and have to hand over a hundred dollars for nothing in addition to crazy high contact lens prices.

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