Posted on: 03/17/23


Are your eyes itching or burning, and do you see redness when you look in the mirror? You may be wondering if it’s dry eye syndrome or allergies.

Based on symptoms alone, it is difficult to determine whether your symptoms stem from allergies or dry eye. Visiting your eye doctor is the best way to determine the root cause of your symptoms and get treatment, to help. 

However, understanding the underlying causes of both can help you to know whether it’s dry eye or allergies. Keep reading to learn five signs that your dry eye symptoms aren’t allergies!

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye occurs when your eyes aren’t maintaining the necessary level of moisture. A healthy eye is kept moist by a steady flow of tears which lubricate and protect the eye. 

When your eyes aren’t able to produce enough tears or the right quality of tears, you’re at risk of developing dry eyes. Even if your eyes are watery, your eyes may be dry eye due to your tear quality. 

Tears keep your eyes healthy. Good quality tears have enough lipid, or oil, to lubricate the surface of the eye. 

With every blink, a tear film is spread across that surface to prevent moisture evaporation and wash away irritants. With less lipids in your tears, your eyes become drier.

What Causes Dry Eye?

Aging is a significant factor in dry eye. Most people over sixty-five years of age have some symptoms of dry eye. 

However, the condition is more common in women due to hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, and menopause in particular. Computer use is another cause of dry eye. 

Staring at screens for much of the day reduces how often you blink, and the effects are cumulative over time. Depending on what medications you take, your prescription drugs can also add to dry eye. 

These include antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, sleeping pills, and heartburn medications. All have been found to reduce tear production.

There are many causes of dry eye. Determining the root cause of your symptoms can help your eye doctor at Cutarelli Vision create an appropriate treatment plan.

What Are Eye Allergies?

When your body is exposed to an irritant, your immune system kicks in as a protective reaction. Immune system responses are particularly evident in the eye. 

When your eyes are exposed to allergens, tearing, itching, scratchiness, and redness result. Pollen, dust, and pet dander provoke strong reactions as these are common allergens. 

Over thirty-five million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies each year. In April and May, tree pollens create problems for many allergy sufferers. 

In June and July, it’s grass pollens; in July and August, it’s mold spores and weed pollens. Dust inside the home and pet dander are also problematic. 

Even if they’re not airborne, when you touch something and then rub your eyes, you introduce allergens. All these irritate the eyes and inflame the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. 

This is known as allergic conjunctivitis, a common form of eye allergy. 

Five Signs That Your Dry Eyes Aren’t Allergies

  1. Your symptoms occur year-round.
  2. Your irritated eyes do not improve with a low pollen count.
  3. You experience symptoms after prolonged screen time.
  4. The onset of symptoms isn’t rapid as it would be with exposure to allergens.
  5. Taking an antihistamine does not reduce your symptoms.

There are ways of reducing symptoms and discomfort, even if your symptoms are due to dry eye syndrome.

Are you experiencing symptoms of dry eye? Schedule an appointment at Cutarelli Vision in Denver, CO, today!