WHAT IS AN EYE ALLERGY?
Eye allergy is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the lining of the eyeball and inside of the eyelids. The medical term is “allergic conjunctivitis.” Although allergy is the major trigger, infections and irritation can also affect the eye. Eye allergy often occurs with allergic rhinitis, also called “hay fever.” Like all allergies it starts when the immune system recognizes a usually harmless substance as an allergen. Your immune system overreacts, producing allergic antibodies called IgE. This binds onto allergic cells which release chemicals like histamine.
Allergic conjunctivitis is divided into:
1. Perennial—caused by year-round allergens like pets, dust mites, and molds.
2. Seasonal—caused by trees grasses and weeds.
Although uncomfortable, neither of these conditions are contagious nor damage the eye.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- itchy watery red eyes
- light sensitivity
- gritty eyes
- eyelid swelling
- burning eyes
Symptons usually occur in both eyes
HOW DO YOU TREAT THIS?
1. Avoidance :
If pollens trigger your symptoms:
- avoid triggers which an allergist can identify with testing
- keep windows closed and air conditioning on in pollen season
- stay indoors when pollen counts are high
- use salt water eyedrops after outdoor exposure to flush pollen out of your eyes
If indoor allergens trigger your symptoms:
- use a HEPA vacuum to reduce dust mites in house
- try to keep pets out of bedroom
2. Medications such as oral antihistamines and eyedrops can reduce symptoms.
3. Allergy shots will usually control and often cure these allergies.