About 1 in 5 people will have some type of problem with allergies that affect their eyes.
Allergies that affect the eyes are known as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies. For most people they are annoying and uncomfortable but there are severe cases which can cause vision impairment. While the eye allergies themselves are not problematic to your vision, untreated allergies that cause you to scratch or rub the eyes can create secondary injury and possible infections.
Common Symptoms of Eye Allergies
Common symptoms of eye allergies include:
- Itching or burning sensation in and around the eye
- Watery eyes and tearing
- Red Eyes
- Swollen Eyelids
It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms of an eye allergy can also be found with more significant infections or conditions of the eyes. Therefore, seeking a diagnosis is important to get the correct treatment.
In the case of a true allergic reaction, the area of the eye known as the conjunctiva (a membrane found on the exterior of the eye) has an immune response. When an irritant touches the conjunctiva, the body responds in an atypical way and causes antibodies to flood the area. These antibodies in turn cause the body to produce chemicals known as histamines that trigger the annoying symptoms.
Seasonal allergies occur at specific periods of time throughout the year. The most common source of seasonal allergies is pollen from plants and trees as well as microscopic mold spores that are present in the air. Dust and mites can also be allergens that are more common in the dry summer months and in climates with cold, dry winters.
Home Remedies for Treating Eye Allergy Symptoms
To help reduce the allergic reaction and prevent those horrible itchy, watery eyes try the following:
- Know Your Triggers – keep track of when the reaction begins and what is in your environment. Remember that spores, dust and pollen are the biggest causes of seasonal eye allergies and stay indoors when pollen or mold counts are high.
- Limit Exposure – while you may not be able to stay indoors you can still limit the amount of exposure. Wear glasses to prevent wind from carrying allergens to your eyes, keep house and vehicle windows closed and stay in sheltered areas away from the pollen or mold sources.
- Carry saline rinses and eye drops – over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops for allergy relief can be very helpful in eliminating symptoms. Saline rinses area great way to remove the allergen from the surface of the eye. OTC oral allergy medications can also be helpful but may cause drowsiness depending on the brand you select.
- Keep humidity low – in damp climates keeping the humidity below 50% in the home will reduce the production of mold spores.
For those with significant allergic reactions it is important to talk to your doctor. You may need to have seasonal prescription medication on hand or consider the option of seasonal allergy shots to help your body curb the reaction to the allergen.