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Eye Allergies vs. Dry Eye

man sneezing due to allergies - Colorado Springs, CODiagnosis & Treatment by Our Eye Doctor in Colorado Springs, CO

Do you suffer from itchy, stinging, swollen or red eyes? A number of causes could lead to these irritating symptoms. However, the most common reasons are typically eye allergies and dry eye syndrome.

While the symptoms of these two eye conditions can be similar, there are also clear differences between the problems – and only comprehensive eye exams can determine the precise cause of your painful eyes. So if you experience any of these symptoms, contact your leading eye doctor in Colorado Springs, CO. Our office is located between the US Olympic Training Center and The Citadel on 710 N Circle Drive.

All About Dry Eye

Tears are composed of three basic layers: water, mucin, and lipids. When this composition is off-balance and there are not enough lipids, dry eye results. The most usual reaction to dry eyes is a stinging or burning sensation. In addition, you may experience red eyes and/or feel like there is sand under your eyelids. Another possible symptom is reflex tearing, which leads to watery eyes.

Dry Eye Treatment in Colorado Springs

Typically, therapy to relieve dry eye includes:

  • Using artificial tears eye drops or lubricating ointments. Many over-the-counter medications are available, and it is recommended to check with our eye doctor about which one is right for you.
  • Treating your Meibomian glands, which are responsible for lipid production. Our eye doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids.
  • Treating inflammation. A variety of ointments with cyclosporine are FDA-approved for treating dry eyes. Sometimes, antibiotics with anti-inflammatory action may be used.
  • Nutritional supplements. Eating foods or supplements with omega-3 fatty acids may help.

Eye Allergies Explained

Itchiness, swelling, and red eyes are the most common symptoms of eye allergies. If you have allergies, your eyes react to a substance that is not usually harmful – yet your eyes perceive it as a threat. This substance, an allergen, reacts with your mast cells and histamine is released, which causes all those irritating symptoms. The most common allergens are environmental, such as seasonal pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

Treatment for Eye Allergies in Colorado Springs

The first instruction that our eye doctor in Colorado Springs, CO, tells patients with eye allergies is to never rub your eyes! Eye rubbing can spread the allergen and exacerbate your symptoms. As far as the most effective therapies for eye allergies, we recommend:

  • Avoidance of contact with the allergen, when possible; keep windows shut and use an air filter when seasonal allergies hit
  • Antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer eye drops – to prevent the release of histamine
  • Cool compresses
  • Artificial lubricants for your eyes. Be sure to check with our eye doctor before using an over-the-counter medicine to make sure it is approved for your condition.

Eye Allergies & Dry Eye All at Once

Dry eye and eye allergies often occur simultaneously. Unfortunately, the lack of a quality tear film will make your allergy symptoms worse.  That’s because tears work to block allergens from direct contact with your eyes, as well as flush them out of your eyes. In this situation, moisturizing eye drops may help to alleviate the discomfort of eye allergies.

Contact Lenses & Red Eyes, Dry Eye and Eye Allergies

If you wear contacts, any type of eye irritation can complicate your normally comfortable vision. Fortunately, there many types of contact lenses, and some materials are better for certain eye conditions. Our Colorado Springs eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to confirm your particular condition. For dry eyes, we may prescribe a contact lens that is more resistant to drying out. For people with eye allergies, we often recommend daily disposables, because you throw them out before allergens have a chance to accumulate on the contact lens surface.

Painful Eyes? Book a Comprehensive Eye Exam

If you have itching, burning, redness, swelling or any other painful eye symptoms, contact our Colorado Springs eye care center to schedule your eye exam. We will diagnose your problem and offer treatment to restore your comfortable vision!