YOU ARE NOT ALONE
More than one-third of the population struggles with allergies. People who have allergies are often quick to seek help for symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling and nasal congestion. However, allergies can affect the eyes as well. If you are one of the millions of Americans with eye allergies, then you know how frustrating they can be.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN EYE ALLERGY OCCURS
When something you are allergic to irritates the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the eye and the inside of the eyelid, your immune system overreacts and produces antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals which cause an allergic reaction. In this case, allergic reactions include eyes that water, itch, hurt or become red or swollen.
• Watery eyes
• Sensitivity to light
• Eyelid swelling
Seasonal allergens, such as pollen and mold spores, are the most common causes. If you suffer with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), your symptoms worsen when you go outside on days with higher pollen counts.
If pollen and other seasonal allergens are causing you misery, here are a few tips:
- Sunglasses can also help reduce the amount of allergens that land in the eyes.
- Apply saline eye drops to the eyes after being outdoors to wash away allergens from the ocular lining.
- Daily contact lens modalities can reduce allergens by starting off with a clean lens every morning.
Allergens such as dust mites and pet dander can also cause eye allergies year-round. If you suffer from this type of allergy, your symptoms likely worsen during certain activities such as cleaning your house or grooming a pet.
If indoor allergens are causing pesky allergy symptoms, avoidance is the key:
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce dust in your home.
- Try keeping pets out of the bedroom to reduce exposure to their dander.
- Invest in a hypo-allergenic mattress cover and/or pillow case.
Over-the-counter antihistamine pills and eye drops are often used for short-term treatment of eye allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, not all antihistamine eye drops are made equal. Prolonged use of certain eye drops may actually make your symptoms worse so discuss your eye drops at your next appointment.
Lid scrubs can help remove allergens and debris from the lids and lash line before bedtime. A cool compress in the morning can also decrease swelling and help you start off the day refreshed.
Corticosteroid eye drops are effective if the inflammation doesn’t resolve; however, due to the risk of side effects, your optometrist should manage the use of this prescription medication.
If you are suffering with an eye allergy or have questions about the right treatment for you, contact Dr. Katie today to schedule an appointment. We will help determine the best course of action, reduce the risk of adverse side effects and alleviate those annoying allergy symptoms!