Dry Eye, Allergies, or Something More? How to Spot the Symptoms of Eye Disease

Eye health is more than just having 20/20 vision; it also involves understanding various eye conditions and diseases, including dry eye, allergies, and other eye diseases. By being aware of the causes and symptoms of these conditions, we can spot potential problems early on and seek appropriate treatment.


What is Dry Eye?


Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when your tear glands don't produce enough tears, or the quality of your tears is poor. This can lead to discomfort, blurred vision, and even damage to the surface of your eyes if left untreated.


Several factors can cause dry eye. Aging, for instance, is a significant factor; as we grow older, our tear production naturally declines. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to dry eye. Other causes include prolonged screen time, contact lens use, and exposure to dry or windy environments.


The symptoms of dry eye can range from mild to severe. These include a stinging or burning sensation in your eyes, sensitivity to light, red eyes, and a feeling of something being stuck in your eyes. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms persistently, it may be time to see an eye doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


Decoding Allergies


Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms. They occur when your immune system overreacts to certain substances, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.


The symptoms of eye allergies can be quite similar to those of dry eyes, which can sometimes lead to confusion. However, there are a few key differences. Eye allergies often cause itching, redness, and watery eyes. You may also experience sneezing, a runny nose, or other signs of a typical allergic reaction.


While many allergies are seasonal, others can occur year-round, depending on the allergen. The best way to manage eye allergies is by avoiding the allergen, although this isn't always possible. In such cases, medications can help to control the symptoms.


Identifying Other Eye Conditions


There are other eye diseases that can mimic the symptoms of dry eyes and allergies, such as blepharitis and chalazion.


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids, often caused by a bacterial infection or a skin condition like dandruff or rosacea. This condition can cause symptoms similar to dry eyes and allergies, including redness, itching, and a gritty feeling in the eyes.


Chalazion, on the other hand, is a small lump in the eyelid that occurs when the oil gland in the eyelid becomes blocked. Though chalazions are usually painless, they can cause the eyelid to swell and may occasionally be uncomfortable.


The Importance of Regular Eye Examinations


Regular eye examinations are crucial in maintaining eye health. They not only determine your need for corrective eyewear, but they also check for common eye diseases that could lead to vision loss.


If you're experiencing symptoms like dryness, itching, or redness, a comprehensive eye exam can help to pinpoint the cause and determine the best course of treatment.


When to Seek Medical Attention


While some eye symptoms can be managed at home with over-the-counter treatments, others require immediate medical attention. Severe pain, sudden vision loss, or signs of an infection, such as pus or extreme redness, are all indications that you should seek medical help right away.


Maintaining Your Optimal Eye Health


Maintaining eye health involves understanding the various conditions that can affect our eyes, including dry eye, allergies, and other eye diseases. By being aware of the causes and symptoms of these conditions, we can spot potential problems early on and seek appropriate treatment.


If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, allergies, blepharitis, or chalazion, consult with our professionals at Family Vision Clinic in our Wilmington, North Carolina office. Please call (910) 392-4414 to schedule an appointment today.