A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW ALLERGIES MANIFEST IN THE EYES
If you suffer from nasal allergy symptoms, it’s likely that your eyes will be affected, too. This is because the substances that trigger nasal allergy symptoms may also trigger eye allergies. Like the nose, the eyes are exposed and sensitive to allergens.
The medical term for eye allergy is allergic conjunctivitis [con-JUNK-tuh-VIGH-tiss]. The conjunctiva is a membrane that lines the white of the eye and the eyelid. It houses many immune system cells that release irritating substances that cause symptoms during an allergic reaction.
WHAT ARE THE EYE ALLERGY SYMPTOMS?
Eye allergy symptoms can include itchy, red, watery eyes. The itching can be intense, and there may also be a burning or gritty sensation. The eyes look red because the conjunctiva is irritated. The watery discharge can sometimes appear stringy. Although the symptoms of eye allergies are uncomfortable, people’s vision is usually fine.
WHAT CAUSES EYE ALLERGIES?
There are actually different types of allergies with eye symptoms, each with their own triggers. “Seasonal” allergies usually happen in the spring/summer/autumn months and are caused by pollen and mold spores. “Year round” or “perennial” allergies are usually triggered by pet dander and/or dust mites.
Possible triggers of seasonal eye allergies:
- Tree, grass, or ragweed pollen
- Mold spores
Possible triggers of year-round eye allergies:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
HOW ARE EYE ALLERGIES TREATED?
The first thing to do in dealing with eye allergies is to avoid whatever triggered it in the first place—sometimes easier said than done. There are also a few treatments that can ease symptoms:
If these don’t help, your doctor may suggest other over-the-counter allergy medications or prescribe other types of medications or eye drops.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING EYE ALLERGIES
- Try to keep your windows closed during allergy season
- Try not to rub or touch your eyes
- Wash your hands often
- Wash your bed sheets in hot water to kill off allergens
- Keep pets out of your bedroom
- Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes
- Use a vacuum with an allergy/asthma filter