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Is it dry eyes or just allergies?

Is It Dry Eye or Just Allergies?

(I-MED Pharma)

Red, itchy, inflamed eyes that burn… How’s one to tell if that’s the gift that comes with the onset of spring, or dry eye? Although both conditions share similar symptoms, there are some stark differences that set them apart.

Allergies and Dry Eyes

Allergies and dry eyes

Allergies and dry eye have overlapping symptoms, which, to the untrained eye, may seem hard to tell apart. Seasonal allergy eye symptoms can be traced to a specific time, like the onset of spring or fall most commonly known as dry eye season. The biggest difference is that allergy eyes are usually very itchy, which sets them apart from dry eye. The itchiness may be so intense that the eyes become red and inflamed due to rubbing and trying to alleviate the itch. [1] This redness and inflammation can also occur in cases of dry eye, however, with dry eye, the main sensation is a dry, gritty feeling, that makes it feel like there’s a foreign object in the eye. This can lead to a burning sensation, as opposed to the itchy one that would happen with allergy eyes. Consider the following chart:

Allergy Eyes vs Dry Eyes

Allergy Eyes vs Dry Eyes – Comparison Table Handy Reference

Can seasonal allergies cause dry eyes?Seasonal allergies and dry eye

In a way, allergies can also cause dry eyes. Dry eyes can be indirectly caused by allergies because some antihistamines can cause dry eyes. Antihistamines are usually taken to combat allergy symptoms, and oral antihistamines can often reduce the ability of the eyes to produce tears and can make dry eye worse. [2] Certain antihistamines designed to dry a runny nose, for example, can also affect the natural moisture of the eye. Less moisture means less tear production, leading to less tear flow and inadequate flushing of environmental allergens from the ocular surface. Decreased tear volume results in an increased concentration of inflammatory mediators on the ocular surface. [3] Furthermore, the line between allergies and dry eye can also get a bit blurred, seeing as certain allergens and environmental factors can also cause dry eye.

Can food allergies cause dry eyes?Food allergies and dry eyes

Can food allergies cause dry eyes? Surprisingly, also yes. Allergies that cause dry eyes can include certain food intolerances that cause gut inflammation. This can cause inflammation at the cellular level, which can affect how the Meibomian glands function, causing them to become inflamed, resulting in evaporative dry eye and MGD. [4]

Eye drops for allergy and Dry Eyes – I-DROP® by I-MED Pharma

How to treat dry allergy eyes

Eye drops for allergy and dry eyes are usually a good way to go for relieving symptoms. In cases of dry eye, or allergies causing dry eye, I-DROP® viscoadaptive preservative-free artificial tears can help.

Ocular hygiene routine to treat your dry allergy eyes with care

However, another important piece of the puzzle would be to implement an ocular hygiene routine. Seeing as the eyes are itchy or burn (whether it’s allergies or dry eye), there can be an impulse to rub or touch the eyes more often. This can allow foreign bacteria to enter the eye, which can worsen already uncomfortable ocular symptoms. Implementing an eyelid hygiene routine will ensure that the eyes stay clean, as well as reduce bioburden around the eyes and ease symptoms.

For regular cleansing of the eyes, I-LID ’N LASH® wipes or pump are a great way to ensure the eyes remain clean. Made with hydrating ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and glycerin, I-LID ’N LASH® helps soothe the delicate skin around the eyes and does not sting or burn. It helps reduce bioburden and removes ocular debris, which also helps the effectiveness of artificial tears. It is hypoallergenic, and ophthalmologist and dermatologist tested.

For a deeper cleanse, I-LID ’N LASH® PLUS is a great option. Containing 5% tea tree oil, I-LID ’N LASH® PLUS contains the same great properties as I-LID ’N LASH®, with an added benefit of tea tree oil which is known for its superior cleansing properties and is used in many topical formulations to offer a deeper cleanse.

Since allergy and dry eye symptoms can arise throughout the day and can cause more eye rubbing, I-LID ’N LASH® HOCL is a great product to have in your pocket. Containing .2% pure HOCl, it’s a great product to ensure the eyes stay clean and hydrated throughout the day – even when you’re on the go!

For additional relief to help manage uncomfortable ocular symptoms, consider I-RELIEF™ HOT & COLD THERAPY EYE MASK WITH THERMABEADS™! With the ability to be used for hot and cold therapy, I-RELIEF™ is a great eye mask for dry eyes to have on hand, and can also help relieve sinus pressure, headaches, tension, and more. Consider the following chart:

Moist heat and cold therapy for dry eyes


Are you a professional and wish to learn more about our I-LID ’N LASH® ocular hygiene line? Book a lunch and learn.

Are you a patient and wish to purchase I-MED Pharma products? Find a clinic near you.

[1] Cherney, Kristeen. “Dry Eye or Allergies: Differences, Causes, Treatment.” Healthline, 30 Sept. 2020,

[2] Lindsey, Haven. “Which Antihistamine Does Not Cause Dry Eye?” Healthline, 20 Dec. 2022,

[3] O.D, Richard B. Mangan. “When Allergy and Dry Eye Collide.”, 7 Sept. 2009,

[4] “Treating Food Sensitivities.” NOT a DRY EYE Foundation,