Dry Eye, Blepharitis and Eye Allergies

Dry Eye Blepharitis Eye AllergiesDry eye syndrome, blepharitis and eye allergies are probably the 3 most common reasons to visit the eye doctor.  Often, it’s difficult to attribute your symptoms to just one ailment because the 3 can mimic each other.

This is the last article in a series to recognize Dry Eye Awareness month.


Blepharitis is a very common condition where the tiny oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become clogged, this clogging causes inflammation. This condition is distinct from meibomian gland dysfunction which affects the meibomian glands.

The oily secretions get blocked which sets off an inflammatory response of the lids, causing:

  • Tearing
  • Red eyes
  • Gritty sensation
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Flaking/accumulation of debris

Like dandruff, another condition related to inflammation, there is no actual cure, and treatment is aimed at reducing the symptoms.  Treatments can range from warm compresses, treating the lids with mild soap (e.g. dilute baby shampoo) and prescription medications.

Eye Allergies

Seasonal eye allergies are very common.  Many people have some degree of eye allergies to pollen, dust, mold and smoke, but vary in severity.  In addition, patients with dry eye and/or blepharitis can have more intense eye symptoms and the diagnosis of eye allergies can be confusing.

Common symptoms of seasonal eye allergies include:

  • Tearing
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Swollen lids
  • Sneezing/coughing
  • Runny nose

Treatments may include systemic antihistamines and/or anti-allergy eye drops, avoidance of the sensitizing allergens, etc.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Over the past few weeks, we have featured several other articles on the treatment, diagnosis and symptoms of dry eye.

Dry eye results from either under production of tears or from too rapid evaporation of the tear film.  Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Stinging and burning
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Tearing (reflex tearing)
  • Blurry vision
  • Intolerance to contact lenses

What Can You Do?

Dry eye, blepharitis and allergies can often occur together.  As you review the symptoms of each disease, you see there is tremendous overlap...sometimes making it very difficult to diagnose the exact condition and recommend treatments.

In addition, having one of these conditions can make you more sensitive or prone to suffering from another condition.  For instance, dry eye sufferers may be more sensitive to eye allergies or blepharitis may exacerbate (make worse) the symptoms of dry eye.  

If you are suffering from dry eye, or think you might have blepharitis or allergies, make an appointment with us soon.