Blog Hero

Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes?

Book Appointment
A woman blowing her nose due to seasonal allergies

With spring around the corner, seasonal allergies will be as well. Allergies can cause dry eyes, intense itchiness, and red, watery eyes. 

Allergies aren’t the only cause of dry eye syndrome

Digital eye strain, aging, hormonal changes, and certain medications can also play a role. But for those who suffer from allergies, the symptoms can be particularly uncomfortable and disrupt daily life. So, a complete eye exam is needed to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide you with effective relief. 

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye syndrome refers to a disruption in the eye’s tear film

There are 3 layers of the tear film: 

  • The mucin layer (inner)
  • The aqueous layer (middle)
  • The lipid layer (outer)

These layers work together with blinking to hydrate, nourish, and protect the eye’s surface. 

When one of these layers isn’t functioning well, you can develop dry eye syndrome. 

How Do Allergies Cause Dry Eye?

It isn’t uncommon for allergy sufferers to have other conditions that can lead to dry eye symptoms. However, intense itching is not generally common with other causes of dry eyes. So, if your eyes are very itchy, allergies are likely to blame.

When your eyes are itchy, there is often an intense urge to rub your eyes. Rubbing creates friction between the surface of the eye and the eyelid and can disrupt the tear film. It can also introduce bacteria or force debris deeper into your eyes, which can lead to irritation and infections

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome? 

Dry eye has many causes, each needing a unique solution.


Allergies occur when you’re exposed to an irritant, and your body’s immune response releases histamines. Histamines seek out the offending irritant to remove it from your body, often causing sneezing, hives, and dry, itchy, watery eyes. 

Allergy symptoms generally come on quickly and can lead to allergic conjunctivitis. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, smoke, and mold. Food and insect allergies are not commonly associated with eye-related symptoms and are more likely to cause severe anaphylaxis, a medical emergency. 

Allergies can lead to prolonged dry eye syndrome as they can cause tears to evaporate more quickly. If you have an allergy to pet dander and are regularly exposed to that allergen, you could develop chronic dry eyes. Allergy symptoms can be managed with antihistamines and artificial tears for quick relief, but avoiding or limiting exposure to allergens is recommended to avoid discomfort. 

Digital Eye Strain

Exposure to digital screens is a daily occurrence, especially now. These digital devices can cause eye strain and common symptoms like: 

  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Discomfort from digital eye strain can last from a couple of hours to a couple of days, but it generally resolves on its own after stopping the activity that caused it. Following the 20-20-20 rule can help prevent eye strain symptoms. 


Blepharitis is a common eye condition that causes inflammation, redness, and scaly, dandruff-like dry patches on the eyelids. 

These dry patches can cause itchiness and the urge to rub the eye, leading to dry eyes, irritation, and infection.  

Blepharitis treatment typically involves preventive measures to reduce irritation, like avoiding eye makeup and discontinuing contact lens use while healing. A lid cleanser may also be recommended. Blepharitis typically heals quickly but can recur. A thorough eye exam is needed to diagnose and treat blepharitis. 

A close-up view of a woman's right eye. She's pulling down her eyelid slightly to show her red and dry eyes

Medical Conditions 

Specific medical conditions can affect the eyes and cause dry eye syndrome, including: 

If your dry eyes stem from another medical condition, addressing that condition is key. Your optometrist can relieve dry eye symptoms while you work with your primary care doctor to treat the underlying cause. This 2-pronged approach can help reduce the severity of your dry eye discomfort.


Certain medications can cause ocular side effects, like dry eyes. 

Acne medications, beta-blockers, GI medicines, and even antihistamines are all common perpetrators of causing dry eyes. If your medication is causing dry eye symptoms, they will likely be short-lived and can be soothed with eye drops. 

It can be frustrating when a necessary medication causes eye discomfort, especially if the medication you take is to treat allergy-related dry eyes. Your optometrist can help treat dry eyes from medication-related side effects. If the side effects are hard to manage, it’s important to talk to your doctor.

Find Relief for Dry Eye in Loveland

Dry eyes can be managed with medicated eye drops, heat masks, punctal plugs, or serum tears. Allergy-related dry eyes can also be soothed with antihistamine eye drops or even contact lenses. We can help you find effective relief at 2020 Eyecare Ohio.

Sometimes, dry eye syndrome requires some more specialized treatment for lasting relief. Our team can assess the underlying cause of your discomfort and provide you with a treatment plan. Please schedule a visit with us today for more information.  

Written by Dr. David Williams O.D.

Dr. David J. Williams is originally from Columbus, OH, but made his initial voyage to Southwest Ohio for his undergraduate studies. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University, then attended The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He graduated as the recipient of the esteemed Patient Care Excellence Award in recognition for Exceptional Clinical Skills. After graduating, he moved to Cincinnati to begin practicing in private, commercial, and refractive surgical settings. While honing his clinical skills, Dr. Williams discovered a strong passion for business operations and team building that ultimately drove him back to school. He earned his MBA with a concentration in Finance. He utilized these skills to earn awards in practice excellence and service leadership before deciding to venture out and create 2020 Eyecare with Dr. Gibberman. Dr. Williams has a keen interest in specialty contact lens fitting, diagnosing and treating dry eye disease and glaucoma, and co-managing LASIK and PRK. He also enjoys providing comprehensive eye care for a host of diseases and ocular conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, anterior uveitis, and other anterior segment conditions. In his free time, Dr. Williams enjoys spending time with his wife Grace, dog Barrett, golfing, reading non-fiction, watching The Ohio State Buckeyes beat up on other Big Ten Teams, and traveling the world.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax