Although dry eye is highly prevalent, many challenges exist in diagnosing the symptom and related diseases. For this reason, anionic hydrogel-coated gold nanoshells (AuNSs) were used in the development of a label-free biosensor for detection of high isoelectric point tear biomarkers associated with dry eye. A custom, aldehyde-functionalized oligo(ethylene glycol)acrylate (Al-OEGA) was included in the hydrogel coating to enhance protein recognition through the formation of dynamic covalent (DC) imine bonds with solvent-accessible lysine residues present on the surface of select tear proteins. Our results demonstrated that hydrogel-coated AuNSs, composed of monomers that form ionic and DC bonds with select tear proteins, greatly enhance protein recognition due to changes in the maximum localized surface plasmon resonance wavelength exhibited by AuNSs in noncompetitive and competitive environments. Validation of the developed biosensor in commercially available pooled human tears revealed the potential for clinical translation to establish a method for dry eye diagnosis.