Do your eyes tear up, get red, swollen, or itchy? These are some common signs of having eye allergies. The optometrists at VisionCare Associates in East Lansing can help you deal with the symptoms and come up with a treatment plan for your eye allergies.
What Are Eye Allergies?
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you are more likely to also have eye allergies. Eye allergies, also called allergic conjunctivitis will occur when the eyes react to an allergen that irritates them.
This is often something like pollen, but it can be other things like pet dander, dust, smoke, perfumes, or foods. If you know what causes your eye allergies, you can avoid them.
If you cannot avoid the cause of your eye allergies, you may experience itching, burning, or sensitivity to light.
Eye allergies occur because the eye produces histamine to fight off whatever the allergen is. Because of the histamine, the eyelids and the conjunctiva become swollen, red, and even itchy.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
For many people, eye allergies are caused by allergens in the air, both outdoors and indoors.
Common allergens that cause eye allergies include:
- Pet dander
- Pollen from trees, grass, and ragweed
Some people may also have allergic reactions to medications or drugs that could affect the eyes. Others may find that they are allergic to the preservative chemicals found in lubricating eye drops. If this happens, they should look for preservative-free eye drops to avoid having an allergic reaction.
What Are the Symptoms of Eye Allergies?
If you have eye allergies, it is not uncommon to also have nasal allergies with a stuffy, itchy nose and sneezing. The most common symptoms of eye allergies include these:
- Itchy, swollen, or red eyes
- Tearing or burning eyes
- Experiencing light sensitivity
If you are experiencing seasonal allergies, you may also have an itchy or sore throat, coughing, or a headache due to sinus pressure.
Can You Treat Eye Allergies?
Once you know you have eye allergies, the next step is to treat them. The best thing you can do is avoid the allergens that cause you to have an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to something like pollen, this is not always possible.
When avoiding allergens does not work, you can treat eye allergies using medication. Artificial tears are helpful because they can flush allergens out of your eye. They can also relieve any symptoms of dry eye syndrome at the same time.
If your allergy symptoms are affecting you in ways beyond your eyes, a decongestant may be a good idea. Decongestants help reduce congestion and reduce redness in the eyes due to allergies.
Some decongestants also include an antihistamine, which can relieve itchiness as well. Be wary of using antihistamines if you have a history of dry eyes, as they can make your eyes drier and can even worsen your eye allergy symptoms.
To prevent eye allergies completely, you can get eye drops that have both an antihistamine and a mast-cell stabilizer. These eye drops relieve uncomfortable symptoms like tearing, burning, and itching.
If you have severe eye allergies, corticosteroid eye drops help both chronic and severe eye allergy symptoms like swelling, redness, and itching. Only use these with doctor supervision as they can cause serious side effects.
If other medications do not help lessen your eye allergies, you may need immunotherapy allergy shots. These shots contain a tiny amount of the allergen. The dose increases slowly over time and helps your body develop an immunity to the allergens.
Your doctor will help you determine which treatment option is best for treating your eye allergy symptoms. It may take several different combinations before you find the relief that you are looking for.
Struggling with the symptoms of eye allergies? Schedule an appointment at VisionCare Associates in East Lansing, MI to discuss a treatment plan that will work best for you.