ALLERGIES AND YOUR EYES
If your eyes itch, are red, tearing or burning, they are sending you a message. You may have eye allergies, or allergic conjunctivitis, a condition that affects millions of Americans. It is a condition that can occur alone, but often accompanies nasal allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, sniffling, and a stuffy nose. While most people seek treatment for nasal allergy symptoms, they often ignore their itchy, red, watery eyes.
Eye Allergy Triggers
Indoor and outdoor allergens can cause eye allergies. The most common outdoor airborne allergens are grass, tree, and weed pollens. People who are sensitive to these allergens suffer from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, the most common type of eye allergy.
Pet hair or dander, dust mites, and mold are the most common indoor allergens. They can trigger symptoms for some people throughout the year, resulting in perennial allergic conjunctivitis. Cigarette smoke, perfume, and diesel exhaust may act as irritants that cause non-allergic symptoms, or they can make an allergic response worse.
Eye Allergy Causes
Similar to hay fever and skin rashes, eye allergies develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something that is ordinarily harmless. An allergic reaction can occur whenever that “something” – an allergen – comes into contact with your eyes. The allergen causes certain cells in the eye (mast cells) to release histamine and other substances or chemicals that cause blood vessels in the eyes to swell, and the eyes to become itchy, red, and watery.
To properly treat your eyes, we offer skin allergy testing for over 60 allergens to determine the root cause of your eye allergies. By determining what you are allergic to, we can better help you reduce or eliminate your exposure to the offending allergen. Skin allergy testing is usually approved and covered by most insurance. We get the results quickly and the test is non-invasive. The wrong oral, nasal or topical medications can exacerbate other ocular conditions such as dry eyes and glaucoma. By establishing exactly what is causing your symptoms, we can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Can Eye Allergies Harm My Eyesight?
Eye allergies, specifically allergic conjunctivitis, can be extremely annoying and uncomfortable, but they usually do not harm your eyes. However, there are rare conditions that are associated with atopic dermatitis (eczema) and other diseases that can cause inflammation which may affect the eyesight. Chronic forms of eye allergies may also be caused by application of eye drops and creams, or even cosmetics.
If you are suffering from itchy, red, watery eyes call us. We can help treat your immediate symptoms and determine the cause, allowing you to reduce your exposure whenever possible.