What are Eye Allergies?
As the seasons change, so do the airborne allergens. Learn more about what triggers your eye allergies and how to best manage and treat them!
Causes of Eye Allergies
Eye allergies are the result of an allergen, which would normally be harmless, coming in contact with your eye. Eye allergies develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problem in most people. Eye allergies are dependent upon a variety of factors, including genetics and the environment you grow up around. Mast cells within your eye will release histamines to fight the allergen, which can cause your eye to turn red, watery, and itchy. They can be seasonal or the result of commonly found allergens in the air, like:
- Pet dander
Symptoms of Eye Allergies
The most common symptoms include red, swollen or itchy eyes, burning or tearing in the eyes, and light sensitivity. Eye allergies can commonly be accompanied by nasal allergies, which can cause an itchy, stuffy nose, and sneezing. Meet with your doctor to confirm that the symptoms you’re experiencing are symptoms of eye allergies.
Treatment and Management of Eye Allergies
Symptom management varies based on your triggers and severity of symptoms. Some common treatments for eye allergies include:
- Keep your hands away from your eyes. Putting your hands in your eyes can put more foreign substances in your eyes and cause even more irritation.
- Wash out your eyes. Use preservative-free artificial tear drops to flush the allergens out of your eyes.
- Keep your windows closed. When pollen counts are high, consider keeping your windows closed and run your air conditioner to keep allergens out of your home.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom. If pet dander triggers your eye allergies, make sure your pets cannot access your bedroom to help keep it free from allergens.
- Consider oral medication. Antihistamines and decongestants can help control your symptoms. However, keep in mind that they could dry your eyes or make you tired. Make sure to consult with your doctor before taking or switching antihistamines.
- Consider allergy shots. If you have severe allergies, immunotherapy shots could help your immune system adjust to your main triggers.