Relief from Eye Allergies with Your Levittown Eye Doctor
Along with congestion, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches and difficulty breathing, individuals with allergies often suffer from eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis resulting in red, watery, itchy and sometimes swollen eyes. Just as irritants cause an allergic response in your nasal and respiratory system, your eyes also react with an oversensitive immune response, triggered by an environmental substance that most people’s immune systems ignore. Most individuals with allergies also suffer from eye allergies which affect millions of North Americans, particularly with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) which is common during the spring, summer, and fall.
What Causes An Eye Allergy?
Eye allergies, or any allergies for that matter, occur when the immune system is hypersensitized to a stimulus in the environment that comes into contact with the eye. The allergen stimulates the antibodies in the cells of your eyes to respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause the eyes and surrounding tissue to become inflamed, red, watery, burning and itchy.
Eye allergens can include:
- Airborne substances found in nature such as pollen from flowers, grass or trees.
- Indoor allergens such as pet dander, dust or mold.
- Irritants such as cosmetics, chemicals, cigarette smoke, or perfume.
Tips for Coping With Eye Allergies
Allergies can go from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Knowing how to alleviate symptoms and reduce exposure can greatly improve your comfort and quality of life, particularly during allergy season which can last from April until October.
To reduce exposure to allergens:
- Stay indoors and keep windows closed when pollen counts are high, especially in the mid-morning and early evening.
- Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, not only from UV rays but also from airborne allergens.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, this can intensify symptoms and increase irritation. When the eyes get itchy, it is difficult not to rub and scratch them. However, rubbing the eyes can aggravate the allergic cascade response, making them more swollen, red, and uncomfortable.
- Check and regularly clean your air conditioning filters.
- Keep pets outdoors if you have pet allergies and wash your hands after petting an animal.
- Use dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows and wash linens frequently.
- Clean surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dusting or dry sweeping.
- Remove any mold in your home.
- Reducing contact lens wear during allergy season or switch to daily disposable contact lenses.
Treatment for the uncomfortable symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include over-the-counter and prescription drops and medications. It is best to know the source of the allergy reaction to avoid symptoms. Often people wait until the allergy response is more severe to take allergy medication, but most allergy medications work best when taken just prior to being exposed to the allergen. Consult your eye doctor about your symptoms and which treatment is best for you.
Non-prescription medications include:
- Artificial tears (to reduce dryness)
- Decongestant eyedrops
- Oral antihistamines
Prescription medications include eyedrops such as antihistamines, mast-cell stabilizers, or stronger decongestants as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids.
Immunotherapy which are allergy injections given by an allergist is sometimes also helpful to assist your body in building up immunity to the allergens that elicit the allergic response.
If no allergy medicine is on hand, even cool compresses and artificial tears can help alleviate symptoms.
Finding the right treatment for your allergies can make all the difference in your quality of life, particularly during the time of year when most of us like to enjoy the outdoors.
Q. What are common symptoms of allergies?
Red eyes, teary eyes, sneezing, all signs of seasonal allergies. Watery eyes with clear watery discharge combined with redness and itching. Without treatment, these symptoms can last all day & even through the entire pollen season. Some get bothered in Spring and others in Winter. Even cutting the lawn or at a baseball field can bother people.
Q: What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
Pink eye is a general term for an eye that is red and can be due to 3 causes: 1) Allergy. 2) Virus or cold. 3) Bacterial infection. Allergic Conjunctivitis is a more specific term of a type of pink eye. Describes appearance but not the issue. Pink eye isn't exactly contagious from allergies, but viral or bacterial could be. Allergy is a reaction to a foreign substance that the body rejects, and conjunctivitis can be broken down between "itis" that describes inflammation & "conjunctiva" is the covering over the white part of the eye.
Q. Eye allergy treatment?
Sneezing & headaches from allergies can be treated with standard antihistamine medication - usually in the form of a pill. As far as the eye, allergies require prescription eye drops and are very effective, where you only need a drop once or twice a day. Allergic conjunctivitis or seasonal allergies can make contact lenses uncomfortable to wear. But, with these drops, you can continue to wear contact lenses provided you follow proper instruction by your eye doctor. Contrary to regular eye drops / over the counter that is often less effective. It's advised to check with your optometrist on the best way to use prescription eye drops.
Want Releif from Itchy, Watery Eyes? Book and Appointment for Eye Allergies with Our Levittown Optometrist Today!