Allergies, Dry Eye

So, it’s springtime (yay!) and dry eye syndrome is once again rearing its ugly head (BOO….). If you have long suspected a connection between these two things, you’re right.

Spring is when most people with allergies experience the worst of their symptoms. Pollen counts typically peak in April and May, which is also when we see a spike in patients seeking treatment for dry eye syndrome.

Studies suggest that springtime allergies can worsen dry eye symptoms. But dry eye syndrome requires a different treatment approach than allergy symptoms, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with.

Here’s what you need to know about springtime and dry eye to keep your eyes comfortable for the season.

What causes springtime dry eye?

Eyes already lacking moisture and lubrication can get especially uncomfortable when seasonal allergies are thrown into the mix. Flowering trees and plants are in bloom, producing the pollen that causes allergic reactions such as sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes. This compounds the discomfort for people with existing dry eye syndrome.

In spring, the most common allergens include:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • pet dander
  • mold

For people with both springtime allergies and dry eye syndrome, treating just one condition or the other will not usually solve the issue of seasonal dry eye. The best results will come from treating both.

How to tell if it’s seasonal allergies or dry eye disease

Dry eye syndrome and seasonal allergies can both cause eye irritation, and it’s not always easy to tell them apart. While dry eye sufferers experience some degree of eye discomfort all year long, individuals with seasonal allergies may only experience their symptoms from early spring to early summer. 

Allergic reactions are caused by the body’s overreaction to certain substances, such as pollen. Dry eye syndrome, on the other hand, is most often associated with meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, when the glands in the eyelid fail to produce an adequate layer of protective lipids in the tear film. 

The most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • redness
  • soreness
  • alternating between excessive dryness and watery eyes
  • burning or stinging
  • mild itching
  • blurred vision
  • light sensitivity 

Dry eyes can feel a lot like allergy eyes, but these additional symptoms could indicate that allergies are playing a role in seasonal eye issues:

  • more intense itching than usual
  • swollen eyelids
  • undereye circles
  • runny or congested nose
  • foreign body sensation

People who suffer both seasonal allergies and dry eye may notice these extra symptoms ramping up in spring and easing somewhat later in the year. 

How to relieve dry eye symptoms

Lubricating eye drops can offer dry eyes some degree of immediate comfort. Other at-home dry eye relief techniques include using a humidifier to fix dry air, applying a warm compress to encourage circulation and tear production, and taking frequent breaks from computer screens and other electronic devices.

Individuals with chronic dry eye should consider long-lasting dry eye treatment to address the underlying cause. For example, the LipiFlow® treatment offered at Eye Specialty Group is designed to relieve dry eye from meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) for up to one year.

Talk to Eye Specialty Group about treatment for dry eye syndrome. Our team can perform testing to determine the severity of your condition and treat it accordingly. Call (901) 685-2200 or tap here to request an appointment on our website.

ABOUT EYE SPECIALTY GROUP Eye Specialty Group offers patients a wide range of vision services, from specialized glaucoma treatment, laser cataract surgery and retina surgery to LASIK and eye reconstructive surgery. Vision correction procedures include Blade-Free iLASIK, PRK, Implantable Contact Lenses, Clear Lens Exchange and Blade-Free Laser Cataract surgery with Lifestyle IOLs. Our dedicated and caring professionals are here to provide the best possible care to you and your family. Contact us at (901) 685-2200 or visit us online at