Spring is just around the corner, and while many people will be looking forward to more sunshine and warmer temperatures, plenty of others will also be dreading its arrival. This is because, for many people, spring also marks the onset of their seasonal allergies. However, it’s not just allergies that get worse during the spring months. Studies have also suggested that the number of dry eye cases also rises during the spring.
The thing is that seasonal allergies cause many of the same symptoms as dry eye, and this can make determining which one is affecting you all the more difficult. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss your symptoms and find an appropriate treatment to relieve them. However, in the meantime, here’s some information about both seasonal allergies and dry eye that you may find useful and helpful in alleviating your symptoms at home.
Seasonal allergies are just like regular allergies, except that they are more prevalent at certain times of the year. Allergies occur when our body views a normally harmless substance as a hostile invader and chooses to defend itself against it. This defense comes in the form of histamine release. Histamines are chemicals that fight off the allergen, but they also cause a range of effects when doing so. These effects are the symptoms that you would associate with having an allergy.
Eyes that burn or sting
A runny nose/nasal congestion
Watery discharge from the eyes
Sensitivity to light
There are many potential allergens, but the seasonal allergens that are most common in spring include tree pollen, grass pollen, mold, and dust mites.
Obviously, the best thing that you can do for seasonal allergies is to limit your exposure, but this isn’t always possible, especially when you need to go outdoors! When you are at home, try and close your doors and windows as much as you can to prevent outside pollen from making its way into your home. If you are allergic to dust mites, make sure you vacuum often too.
In terms of treatments, there is a variety that your eye doctor may recommend. These will likely include antihistamines, cold compresses, and a comprehensive cleaning routine to keep your eyes are free from allergens as possible.
Dry eye, or dry eye syndrome as it is sometimes called, is a condition that occurs when there isn’t enough tear film present on the surface of the eyes. There can be several reasons why this happens, but the most common is a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oil that forms an integral part of our tear film. However, when the glands don’t work properly or become blocked (by hardened oil deposits) our tear film quality is compromised meaning that the tear film produced isn’t as effective. Sometimes, dry eye also occurs when there is an issue with the drainage channels of the eyes that causes the tear film to drain away more quickly than it can be produced.
The feeling of there being something gritty in your eyes
Burning or stinging
Sensitivity to light
A stringy discharge from the eye
Alternating between the eyes feeling abnormally dry and watering excessively
Dry eye can occur at any age, but certain groups of people are more likely to experience it, including those over the age of 50, people who smoke, spend a lot of time on digital devices, suffer from certain health conditions, or take specific medications.
Fortunately, there are a variety of different treatments that can help to relieve the effects of dry eye. In addition to protecting your eyes when you are in dry, dusty environments and taking regular screen breaks, some of the solutions that your eye doctor may recommend could include artificial tears, medicated eyedrops, warm compresses, regular cleaning, and thermal pulsation treatment called Lipiflow which is designed to target meibomian gland dysfunction. Your eye doctor will be able to tell you which treatments would be best suited to you.
For more advice on either seasonal eye allergies or dry eye, please speak to our friendly and experienced eyecare team at Madeira Optical in Cincinnati, Ohio at (513) 561-7076 today.