Is it Dry Eye or Is it Fall Allergies?

iStock 487676966 Dry eye syndrome can be a frustrating condition to live with for any length of time. While it sounds like the main symptom of dry eye syndrome is having dry eyes, there are several others worth  mentioning. When someone has dry eye syndrome, they may experience blurred vision, a gritty or sandy sensation, excessive watering, and eye fatigue or pain. They may notice strings of mucus at the edges of the eyes or in the eyes, as well. 

Ocular allergies are symptoms that are triggered by an environmental irritant such as mold spores or pollen. The histamine reaction that occurs is called allergic conjunctivitis, and it may cause symptoms that include redness, watering, burning, and intense itching. It is the intense itching more than any other symptom that differentiates ocular allergies from dry eye syndrome. However, some people have both conditions at the same time, which is why symptoms of either should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. 

What Can Trigger Fall Eye Allergies?

Ocular allergies are related to whatever irritants are present at a given time of year. During the fall months, allergies may be triggered by one or more of the following:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Spores
  • Goldenrod
  • Pigweed
  • Ragweed
  • Sagebrush
  • Sorrel

Managing Fall Eye Allergies

If you experience the symptoms of ocular allergies this time of year, it can be beneficial to take steps to avoid flare-ups. Recommended strategies include:

  1. Keep windows closed.
  2. Clean indoors with a damp cloth to prevent debris from floating in the air.
  3. Go outside after noon, when pollen release is less severe. Most weeds release their pollen in the early morning hours. 
  4. Wear sunglasses or clear glasses when outdoors to reduce the chances of irritants getting near the eyes. 
  5. Get an app that tells the day’s pollen count. When possible, stay indoors on high-count days. 
  6. If mold is a prevalent problem, place one or more dehumidifiers in indoor spaces.
  7. Shower after coming inside from outdoors.
  8. Avoid touching or rubbing the eyes.
  9. Rake dead leaves out of the yard to prevent a buildup of mold.

Getting Care for Dry, Irritated Eyes

Eye irritation like dry eye and allergies may seem like no big deal. However, symptoms can become severe enough to disrupt daily activities. If you have symptoms like intense itching, redness, a gritty sensation, or eye fatigue, schedule a consultation at our Winchester, VA ophthalmology practice. Call 540-722-6200 for assistance. 


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