Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common ocular problems affecting 11 to 12 percent of the population. Individuals most at risk are adults older than 50 years, particularly women and contact lens wearers. The causes can be generalized to insufficient tears, mucins, and lipids to lubricate the eyes.
When allergens interact with mast cells, histamine is released, causing redness, swelling, itching, and tearing. Excessive tearing may leave your eyes with no tears in reserve, causing dry eyes. However, there are myriad factors that are responsible for dry eye conditions other than ocular allergies.
Here are the most common symptoms that will help you ascertain that your dry eye problem is due to an allergy:
· Swollen lids: A swollen lid is a common symptom in dry eyes. However, swollen eyelids due to allergic reactions have a flushed glossy appearance with pseudoptosis or mild papillae that is observable when the lids are turned inside out. This symptom is common in severe allergies.
· Itching: Itching is the only diagnosis unique to the dry eye problem caused by allergies. If itching is not part of your dry eye symptoms, you may rule out allergy as the cause of the condition.
· Tearing: Experiencing excessive tearing when attending to activities that expose you to allergens, followed by an episode of dry eyes, is an indication that allergy is the root cause of the condition.
· Inflammation of the conjunctiva: The inflammation of the conjunctiva due to allergic reaction makes the eyelid lining appear puffy. Besides, you may feel itching at the caruncle and media canthus that makes you constantly rub the corners of your eyes.
There are several steps you may take to ease your allergic symptoms:
● Oral antihistamines are known to exacerbate dry eye conditions and should be avoided.
● Always close the windows of your house or cars when the pollen count is high.
● Wear glasses when you are outside the house to keep pollen from your eyes.
● Cut down on dust mites by vacuuming your house, using a special mattress cover, spot cleaning the upholstery and ceilings regularly.
● Use a dehumidifier to cut down on mold buildup when necessary.
● Use an air conditioner in the room you spend most of your time.
● Practice regular hand-washing after every activity that exposes you to allergens, such as petting your cat or dog.
It is prudent to visit an eye doctor before you rush into judging the root cause of your dry eye problem. Knowing the root cause will help you address the symptoms effectively.
Systane PF (Alcon) is said to have a component that covers the cornea temporarily as epithelial glycocalyx is restored to normal and is very useful in this condition. Besides, your optician may recommend preservative-free over-the-counter eye drops to aid in tears production. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may also help.
You may preserve the natural tears by having the tear duct through which the tears drain blocked. The duct may be blocked with a silicone or gel-like plug that is removable.
If you are concerned you have this condition, get in touch with City Eyes Optometry Center. Feel free to contact our center at Sherman Oaks, California, for further questions.