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'Tis the season of allergies and dry eye

Doctors have long held the belief that allergies and dry eye syndrome were separate conditions but a study that was published in the April 2015 issue of Ophthalmologydetails a connection between spring allergens and dry eye. Dry eye is a very common condition and affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men and leaves the affected person with burning, irritated eyes and blurred vision. Researchers evaluated 3.4 million visits over a period of five years to Veterans Affairs clinics across the United States to get a better understanding of the environmental factors that play a role in dry eye. Looking at the monthly prevalence of dry eye and comparing it against an allergy index, they made some interesting connections. When pollen counts reached a yearly peak in April, so did the number of dry eye cases peak. The seasonal spikes in diagnosed dry eye cases occurred every spring with 18.5 percent of patients being diagnosed with dry eye at that time. Another spike occurred during the winter months and was deemed a result of a combination of low humidity and indoor heating. Armed with this knowledge, doctors will be able to help their patients treat their symptoms accordingly. In addition, patients can help protect their eyes by wearing protective goggles when working outside in the yard and by using high quality air filters with their cooling system to catch allergens.*

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