Do I Have Dry Eye Syndrome or Eye Allergies? The Difference Explained By Walter Choate on October 10, 2018

Woman applying eye dropsTwo common eye problems are dry eye syndrome, which compromises the quantity or quality of tear production, and eye allergies. Interestingly, these two conditions share many of the same symptoms, so it can be difficult for patients to determine what exactly is bothering their eyes.

Although these eye conditions share some similarities, they have different causes and require different treatments. Determining whether a patient is suffering from dry eyes or eye allergies is key to providing relief of symptoms.

Dr. Walter Choate has successfully treated both conditions. Here, patients can learn about the key differences between dry eyes vs. eye allergies, and how these conditions may be treated at our Nashville, TN practice.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition in which the eyes either fail to produce enough tears or the tears that they produce are of poor quality. It often produces symptoms such as a dry, gritty feeling in the eyes.

Ideally, tears should be made up of three layers: mucin, water, and oil. If the tears do not have enough oil, they evaporate quickly and do not provide the eyes with the protection and moisture they need.

Dry eye syndrome is an eye condition that is becoming more common. In the past, this eye problem largely affected older patients. However, today we see an increased number of younger adults dealing with dry eyes.

This is likely due in large part to the significant amount of time that most people spend in front of a computer screen or smart phone. Aside from excessive exposure to artificial light, other common causes of dry eyes include hormonal changes, gland disfunctions, and certain diseases or illnesses.

Dry eye treatment will be customized based on what is causing the condition. Some common treatments for dry eye syndrome include:

  • Application of warm compresses
  • Increased intake of antioxidants and fish oil
  • Artificial tears
  • Steroids

Eye Allergies

Eye allergies occur when a person is sensitive to certain environmental elements, such as pollen, dust, mites, or cat dander. Although these elements are not harmful in nature, they can trigger an allergy attack of the eyes, which is likely to result in symptoms such as dry, red, itchy eyes and general eye irritation.

It is easy to confuse the symptoms of eye allergies with those of dry eye syndrome. The thing that really helps distinguish them is that eye allergies usually cause much more itching than dry eyes do.

Eye allergies usually occur seasonally, and should not require long-term treatment. The most common treatments for eye allergies include the following:

  • Cold compresses
  • Artificial tears
  • Antihistamines
  • Avoidance of the allergen (as much as possible)

Schedule an Appointment

If your eyes are dry, itchy, or red, a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to determine if you are experiencing eye allergies or dry eye syndrome. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Walter Choate at your earliest convenience by calling (615) 851-7575. With a proper diagnosis, we can provide you with the treatment you need to restore the health and comfort of your eyes.

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Dr. Choate

Choate Eye Associates

Choate Eye Associates has been delivering high-quality, compassionate eye care to the Nashville community since 1979. We are affiliated with various leading organizations in the field, including: 

  • American Academy of Optometry
  • American Optometric Association 
  • National Board of Examiners in Optometry 

To schedule a consultation at our practice, call us at (615) 851-7575 or request an appointment online

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"I am very pleased with the attention I received at Choate Eye Associates. Dr. Choate is very thorough and does a wonderful job of explaining what he is doing and what he is looking for in the exam." Dianal - Comprehensive Eye Care Patient

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