At Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe, we encounter patients who face different eye conditions. Sometimes, they become confused with the difference between dry eyes and allergies—although it is possible to suffer both! This is why a visit to an eye doctor in Oshkosh is so critical in helping you address problems early. Knowing the difference prevents exacerbating conditions and helps you feel better. Here are general guidelines on distinguishing these conditions:
- Initial symptoms: When symptoms begin, the differences between allergies and dry eyes are very subtle. You will experience itching, burning and irritation with both. However, while allergies primarily present as itching, dry eye conditions also include blurry vision and feeling like you have something stuck in your eye. Allergies also make your eyelids swell, while with dry eyes you will just feel like they are heavy. A sore throat, sneezing and coughing accompany your eye symptoms if you have allergies.
- Discharge: Allergies cause excessive watering. You will also have a runny nose at the same time, since allergies are an overreaction of your immune system that produces multiple symptoms in a whole-body approach. Dry eyes also produce stringy discharge often affectionately referred to as “eye boogers,” as well as excessive watering.
- Vision effects: Dry eyes frequently produce blurred vision. You may find you must take out contacts and use eye drops to finish work or simply proceed with your day in comfort. The only vision effect caused by allergies is light sensitivity. If you find you suffer both light sensitivity and blurred vision, you likely suffer from both conditions.
- Antihistamine reaction: If you have allergies, antihistamine eye drops will make you feel better. As mentioned above, allergies are an overreaction of your immune system, and antihistamines reduce these effects. However, if using antihistamine drops makes your symptoms worse or your eyes itch more, you likely suffer from dry eyes. Rather than using allergy drops, you would benefit from using moisturizing drops. Also, if you have allergies and used antihistamine drops for a while, there is a good likelihood you will develop dry eyes from this treatment. That is why guidance from a good eye doctor becomes essential. You do not want to aggressively pursue one type of treatment only to create new eye issues.
- Triggers: Eye allergies are a reaction to pollens, molds, animal dander and other allergens. You will notice symptoms when in contact with these elements. Dry eyes arise from many circumstances, including menopause, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. They are also a side effect of medications, including anti-anxiety medicines, opioid painkillers and sleeping pills. Smoke, air conditioning and dry, windy climates also produce their share of dry eyes. Chances are, if you feel symptoms most of the time, you likely have dry eyes. But if symptoms come and go, you most likely suffer allergies.
If you require an eye doctor in Oshkosh for annual exams or management of eye conditions like allergies, dry eye or diabetes, make an appointment at Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe. You will not only receive a thorough exam, but we offer a wide selection of eyeglass frames as well. Contact us today to schedule a visit!