Eye allergies are adverse immune reactions caused by the eyes encountering irritating substances or allergens. Also known as allergic conjunctivitis, the condition may result from substances such as pollen, smoke, mold, or dust.
The immune system functions as a natural defense mechanism against harmful bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, the system mistakes harmless substances for harmful invaders and releases chemicals to fight the allergens resulting in an allergic reaction.
Some symptoms can indicate that an individual has eye allergies. They include:
Burning or itchy eyes
Pink or red eyes
Puffy or swollen eyelids
Scaling around the eyes
Allergy symptoms can affect one or both eyes. In many cases, people with allergies will also experience symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion. Eye allergies and conjunctivitis (pink eye) have similar symptoms, but they are different conditions. An eye doctor can help confirm whether you have eye allergies.
Eye allergies occur due to an adverse reaction to allergens. Most of the reactions are triggered by allergens present in the air. These include pet dander, pollen, mold, smoke, and dust mites. When the immune system senses an allergen, it releases histamine, a chemical that causes inflammation and swelling.
Eye allergies can occur anytime but are most common during spring and summer. It is when trees, plants, and grasses are in bloom. Other causes of eye allergies include certain foods, chemicals, perfume, makeup, and contact lenses.
You can know if you have an eye allergy by getting a proper diagnosis. Visiting an eye specialist can help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Getting a diagnosis is essential for treating allergies. The doctor will ask to assess your medical history and ask about your symptoms.
Knowing when they began and how long you have had the symptoms is helpful. A skin prick test can help determine the cause of the symptoms. The test will allow the specialist to know the substances you are allergic to.
Finding out the underlying cause of the symptoms is the best way to come up with an effective treatment. After knowing what you are sensitive to, the doctor can prescribe the best treatment. The easiest way to prevent eye allergies is by avoiding the allergen. However, this may not always be possible, especially if you get seasonal allergies. Some treatments can help relieve allergy symptoms. They include medications, eye drops, and allergy shots.
Simple ways to reduce allergy symptoms include wearing sunglasses outdoors, choosing eyeglasses over contacts, and using lubricating eye drops. Applying a wet compress over the eyelids or using preservative-free saline water to rinse the eyes can help relieve symptoms. Avoid rubbing the eyes as this can worsen eye allergies.
If you continue to experience symptoms after using drops or medications, contact your doctor. You should visit the doctor immediately if you develop vision loss or severe eye pain.
For more on eye allergies, visit Brandon Eyes at our Middleton or Madison, Wisconsin office. Call (608) 833-7256 or (608) 833-0301 today to schedule an appointment.