NAPLES, Fla., April 30, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Allergic eye discomfort is different from the condition known as dry eye. Here’s the rub: Without itchiness, eye inflammation most likely isn’t an allergic reaction caused by seasonal irritants, such as pollens and molds, or by other year-round irritants including animal dander. The difference between the two is in the tears they produce. To understand how the swelling and rawness of allergic eye response varies from that of dry eye, it’s necessary to understand what tears are made of and how they work.
“Tears contain three layers: oil, water, and mucin,” says ophthalmologist Paul M. Rougraff, M.D., of Naples Eye Physicians. “The oil covers the water and protects it from evaporating. Underneath the water, mucin distributes this combination of water and oil evenly across the eye. Insufficient or poor-quality tears cause dry eye’s symptoms of burning, gritty scratchiness that results in wateriness and blurred vision.”
Although aging diminishes the ability to produce tears, dry eye is mostly caused by a chronic and progressive condition called meibomian gland dysfunction. In MGD, the glands become blocked and don’t produce the oil needed for healthy tears. If untreated, MGD may impair vision by harming the surface of eyes.
“It’s possible to have both allergic conjunctivitis and dry eye,” Dr. Rougraff notes. Both can make the sufferer feel like they have a grain of dirt or some other foreign substance in the eye. Although treatment by an allergist may be necessary, he says, an exam by an eye doctor aids in determining which condition a patient has or whether they have both.
Springtime in Naples brings high levels of bayberry, juniper, and oak tree pollen. “The itchiness, redness, and swelling of allergic conjunctivitis can happen year-round,” Lynn Kepple Byerly, M.D. explains, “but peaks in spring and summer.” An allergic response may affect far more than the eyes, so an allergist prescribes overall treatment for it.
Treatment of dry eye, which is generally provided by an eye doctor, begins with a measurement of tear production and analysis of their content. Dr. Byerly notes that solutions to this problem may vary by patient. “For some,” she says, “medical eye drops that increase tear production may be enough. Others may need to have their tear ducts plugged to prevent drainage and then use artificial tear eye drops.”
The Naples ophthalmologists add that another MGD treatment improves gland function by applying heat and massage to inner eyelids.
Contact lens use can be difficult for people who suffer from dry eye. However, some contacts, such as gas-permeable scleral lenses make contact wear more comfortable.
For more information about the treatment of dry eye and allergic conjunctivitis, contact Naples Eye Physicians by calling (239) 262-6288 or visit them online at http://www.napleseyephysicians.com/.
Naples Eye Physicians
661 Goodlette Road N #105
Naples, FL 34102