Our Eye Doctors Provide Dry Eye Relief
Do you suffer from itchy, stinging, swollen or bloodshot eyes? While a number of causes can be to blame, the two most common reasons for eye irritation are dry eye syndrome and eye allergies.
Although the symptoms of these two eye conditions can be similar, there are also clear differences. Only a thorough eye exam by an eye care specialist can diagnose the cause of your eye irritation, which allows effective treatment. If you experience these symptoms, contact your local optometrist conveniently located near you.
Tears are composed of three basic layers: water, mucin and lipids. Dry eye occurs when this composition is off-balance and there is too little of one of these components. Most of the time, dry eyes are due to not having enough lipids. The most common reaction to dry eyes is a burning sensation. In addition, your eyes may turn red and/or feel like there is sand or grit under your eyelids. Reflex tearing may also occur, which leads to watery eyes.
Treatment for Dry Eye
The usual dry eye treatment includes:
- Using lubricating eye drops or ointments. Many over-the-counter medications are available, and it is advised to check with your eye doctor about which one is right for you.
- Treating your Meibomian glands, which are responsible for lipid production. Your eye doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids.
- Treating underlying inflammation. Topical cyclosporine is approved by the FDA for this purpose. Sometimes, antibiotics with anti-inflammatory action may be used.
- Nutritional supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids
The primary symptom of eye allergies is itchiness. With allergies, your eyes react to a substance that is not generally harmful – yet your eyes perceive it as harmful. This substance, an allergen, reacts with your mast cells, releasing histamine. Histamine causes redness, itchiness and inflammation. The most typical allergens are environmental, such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites.
Treatment for Eye Allergies
One of the most important tips we tell our patients is not to rub your eyes! Vigorous eye rubbing can spread the allergen and exacerbate your itch.
Typically, our eye doctors treat eye allergies with:
- Avoidance of contact with the allergen, when possible
- Antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer eye drops – to prevent the release of histamine
- Cool compresses
- Artificial lubricants for your eyes. Be sure to check with your optometrist before using an over-the-counter medicine to determine the best treatment for your condition.
Eye Allergies & Dry Eye at the Same Time
Dry eye and eye allergies can (and often do!) occur simultaneously. Unfortunately, the lack of a quality tear film will make your allergy symptoms worse. Tears are meant to block allergens from direct contact with your eyes, as well as dilute and flush them out of your eyes. That’s why moisturizing eye drops are often helpful at alleviating the discomfort of eye allergies.
Contact Lenses, Dry Eye & Ocular Allergies
If you wear contacts, both of these ocular conditions can complicate your comfortable vision. Fortunately, there is a multitude of contact lens types available nowadays, and some materials of lenses are better for your eye condition. For dry eyes, your optometrist may prescribe a contact lens that is more resistant to drying out. For sufferers of eye allergies, we often recommend daily disposables, because you discard them before allergens have a chance to build up on the contact lens surface.