Dry Eyes vs. Allergies

Allergy season has passed, but itchy eyes are always just around the corner. Spring is usually a miserable time for those with pollen allergies, but there’s a chance that their suffering isn’t due to allergies alone.

In a new study, researchers compared the presence and severity of dry eye disease in over nine thousand ophthalmology patients and 68 allergy patients. Patients were asked about symptoms of dry eye disease, including watery eyes, tired eyes, redness, burning, and itching.

As it turns out, dry eye disease was more prevalent in ophthalmology patients than in allergy patients, 51% and 37%, respectively. Researchers found that while a greater number of ophthalmology patients suffered from dry eye disease, allergy patients had more severe symptoms, which is defined as the presence of four or more symptoms.

Comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional disorders co-occurring with a primary disease or disorder. The combination of dry eye disease and allergies makes it hard to notice the presence of both. Usually, doctors notice the presence of allergies. Researchers are just now discovering the importance of distinguishing between the two conditions. So what happens if someone has both? How does it affect treatment? Patients that have both should discontinue the use of many oral antihistamines because they can exacerbate dryness.

If symptoms are so similar, how can someone tell if they have both conditions? First, there is tear osmolarity test. The second method has to do with the symptoms. If you have gritty or sandy sensation in your eyes or have watery tired eyes, you may have dry eyes disease in addition to allergies.

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