Do your eyes feel dry and gritty in spring? You’re not alone. Research suggests that more people experience dry eyes during springtime than at any other time of the year.

Today, we investigate the reasons for dry eye in spring to understand why some people experience sudden onset dry eyes around this time of the year.

We also look at how you can find relief. Read on to learn more.

Dry Eye in Spring – Why Does It Occur?

A study from the University of Miami investigated seasonal variation in dry eye disease. Findings suggest that dry eye breaks out most often in April and May when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds reaches peak levels.

Researchers reviewed 3.41 million visits to Veterans Affairs eye clinics in the US between 2006 and 2011. They compared dry eye diagnoses to an allergy index and found a seasonal spike in dry eye every spring.

The peak occurred in April, when 20.9% of patients were diagnosed with the condition. In the US, April is also the month with the highest count of pollen allergens.

dandelion scattering in the wind over springtime grass with pollen as an allergen

A total of 18.5% of patients were diagnosed with dry eye in spring. Winter ranked second in terms of dry eye diagnoses followed by autumn and summer. Researchers hypothesize that the use of heaters indoors leads to low levels of humidity. This, in turn, may drive the high dry eye rate in winter.

Springtime allergens can worsen existing dry eyes. But sudden onset dry eyes can also occur as a direct result of allergy.

Good to know: In addition to pollen, other common allergens that increase the risk of dry eyes are mold, pet dander, and dust.

Can Allergy Trigger Dry Eyes?

You can get dry eyes after an allergic reaction to springtime allergens such as pollen. This is known as allergic conjunctivitis.

Dry eye disease or dry eye syndrome on the other hand is a different condition that causes chronic dry eyes.

Causes of dry eye syndrome include autoimmune conditions, meibomian gland dysfunction, hormonal changes, and environmental factors like wind or dry air.

Certain medications can also contribute to dry eye disease or dry eye syndrome, and this includes antihistamines, which are commonly used to treat allergies.

Unlike allergic conjunctivitis, however, dry eye disease doesn’t cause swelling, circles under the eyes, or intense itchiness.

That said, dry eye syndrome comes with additional symptoms not found in allergic conjunctivitis like feeling you have something in your eye that you can’t blink away, blurry vision, or tired eyes.

How to Manage Dry Eye in Spring

Dry eye management in spring becomes easier if you pay attention to a few things. Avoiding allergens is important, followed by using a humidifier and staying hydrated. Let’s take a closer look at these tips for managing dry eyes.

Avoid Exposure to Allergens

Knowing what is causing your allergy is the first step to limiting exposure to allergens. If you’re not sure what’s triggering your symptoms, you may want to get checked for different types of pollen and other allergens.

Allergen skin prick tests are harmless and readily available, so you have nothing to worry about. Once you know your allergens, you can take a proactive approach to avoiding them.

sunlit branches with tree blossom pollen

When the pollen count is high (you can check that in weather apps and on, you can limit the time you spend outdoors. Wearing wraparound sunglasses may also help, and this has the added benefit of protecting your eyes from UV radiation.

Keep Your Windows Closed

Pollen is small enough to come through screened windows and into your home. If you’re sensitive to pollen, opening your windows even a little can trigger an eye allergy.

It’s a good idea to keep your windows closed during the peak pollen season. You may also want to use an air filtering system and to change the air filter at least once a month.

Use a Humidifier

One of the most common reasons for dry eyes at home or work is lack of indoor moisture. Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air and can relieve congestion caused by seasonal dry eyes. It also helps soothe chronic dry eyes.

Leaving the humidifier on at night in your bedroom could improve the quality of your sleep. You may find that it also helps with dry eyes in the morning.

Avoid Soft Contact Lenses

Contact lenses that sit on the cornea can make dry eyes worse because they prevent oxygen from reaching the surface of the eye. They can also accumulate airborne allergens if they are not disinfected daily.

contact lens cases marked L and R on pink table seen from above

During the peak of the allergy season, it’s best to avoid using contact lenses. Switch to eyeglasses instead.

If you must wear contacts, choose daily disposable contacts that you throw away every night, or scleral contacts that provide moisture to the cornea.

Tip: Check our post on how to choose contact lenses for dry eyes for more tips.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water to stay hydrated could help improve dry eyes according to a 2012 study. It may promote healthy tear production, and this in turn can make it easier for you to manage your symptoms.

In addition to drinking water, remember that certain foods can also help hydrate you. Fruits and vegetables are a good example as they have a high water content.

Take an Eye Health Supplement

An eye health supplement won’t protect you from pollen and other airborne allergens. But it can provide a boost of nutrients including powerful eye antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that support eye health.

If you already have dry eyes from other causes such as a poor diet, an eye health supplement like SightC could help your eyes return to health.

SightC is a superfood blend that nurtures and replenishes your eyes with antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Available in the form of vegan capsules, it’s easy to take at home or on the go.

Find out more about SightC and how it can help keep your eyes healthy in the digital age.

The Wrap Up

Springtime allergens like pollen from trees, grass, and weeds can make your eyes feel dry and uncomfortable. It can also worsen existing dry eye symptoms.

But by understanding what allergens trigger your dry eyes in spring, you can limit exposure to them and better manage your condition.

Unpleasant as it is, dry eyes in spring can become an opportunity for you to take better care of your eyes.

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