1. Seasonal and Chronic Eye Allergies
Millions of Americans face symptoms associated with eye allergies: itchy, red, watery eyes. Eye allergies can cause discomfort and disrupt your daily activities. An experienced optometrist can help you explore treatment options to alleviate the symptoms so that you can find relief during allergy season.
2. Causes of Eye Allergies
Why are you experiencing these symptoms? The body is responding to an allergen in the environment. These allergens are present both indoors and outdoors. Common substances that cause allergic responses include pollen, grass, pet dander, and dust.
If you have an allergic reaction, then the body responds by releasing histamines and other chemicals to protect your eyes. This chemical reaction causes the eyes to become itchy and watery to flush the allergens. Additionally, the blood vessels often swell, resulting in red eyes.
3. Types of Eye Allergies
There are two common types of eye allergies: seasonal and perennial.
- Seasonal Eye Allergies: The most common type of allergy, affecting people during certain seasons of the year. For example, allergy symptoms are often experienced during the spring and summer months when the trees and flowers are in full bloom.
- Perennial Eye Allergies: If you experience allergies regardless of the seasonal changes, then you likely have a perennial condition. Often, these eye allergies are caused by compounds that are present year-round, such as pet dander, dust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, and strong odors.
4. Symptoms of Eye Allergies
Even though there are two types of eye allergies, the symptoms are often similar. Common symptoms include itching, watery eyes, swelling, burning, redness, blurry vision, and increase eye mucous production.
These symptoms will continue until the allergen has been removed or treatment is used to manage the histamine response. The causes of allergy symptoms vary for each person. You can pay attention to the times when your allergies are triggered to identify the compounds that are causing the reaction. Medical tests, such as a pin pricking allergy test, can be done to determine the allergy levels for each compound.
5. Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Allergies
An optometrist can usually complete an allergy diagnosis based on the symptoms of the patient. Confirmation of this diagnosis might be done with a slit lamp to determine dilation of the blood vessels and swelling of the eye tissues.
The most effective treatment is minimizing exposure to an allergen. Your doctor might suggest that you stay inside during the times when the pollen count is high to minimize exposure to the eyes. Additionally, wearing sunglasses can reduce the risk of pollen entering the eyes. At home, allergens should be reduced by removing pets from the home and using thorough cleaning techniques to remove the dust and dander in the house.
If you wear contact lenses, then it is best to discontinue the use of these lenses while the symptoms are flaring. Also, it can be helpful to use either over-the-counter or prescription medications. Antihistamines, decongestants, and/or artificial tears can offer relief for the symptoms. Your optometrist will help you identify the best treatment for your situation.