Are you dealing with red, puffy, burning, or itchy eyes? Sounds like someone has eye allergies. If you struggle with these symptoms, learn what you can do about them.
Most eye allergy symptoms are uncomfortable. But some go beyond that to affect your vision, and eye allergies can even lead to eye infections like pink eye (conjuntivitis).
Here are some of those tell-tale symptoms you might experience with eye allergies:
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
- Blurry vision
- Swollen or puffy eyelids
- Sensitivity to light
What’s up with eye allergies, anyway?
When your eyes get exposed to an external allergen, they react by throwing up a defense to get rid of the intruder. Common culprits include pollens, molds or pet dander. Certain cells in your eyes known as mast cells release histamine into the bloodstream, causing the blood vessels to expand and building up protective mucus in the airways.
So while your immune system is doing its best to protect you, you’re feeling the effects of that counterattack as the common symptoms of allergy or hay fever, such as itching and redness.
What to do if you think you have eye allergies
First, it’s good to know that eye allergies are common and not a serious health concern. But there are things to do to help alleviate symptoms and make your eyes more comfortable.
Don’t rub your eyes
It may be tempting to rub or scratch your eyes, but doing so will only encourage the mast cells to release more histamine, amping up the allergic reaction.
Remove your contacts
During an allergy attack, wearing contacts can aggravate the situation, especially if allergy triggers get trapped in the eye by your contact lenses. If you can, opt to wear eyeglasses instead (and keep them clean!).
Try a different type of contact lens
If you suffer frequently from eye allergies, you may want to ask your eye doctor about switching your contact lens prescription. Contacts themselves don’t cause allergy issues, but some are more comfortable to wear than others. Silicone hydrogel lenses, for example, are more breathable. Daily disposable contact lense are also often more preferable because allergens can’t accumulate on the lens.
Try artificial tears or eye drops
Using eye drops can help your eyes flush out the pesky allergens. Some over-the-counter eye drops contain antihistamines or decongestants that help treat your allergy symptoms. Before you try any eye drops, be sure to talk to your eye doctor to find the best ones for you — some eye drops can have side effects for people with certain conditions.
Don’t wear eye makeup
If your eyes are already aggravated, adding makeup to the mix can exacerbate the effects of the allergic situation. You should also regularly wash your cosmetics brushes and applicators and get rid of expired makeup (especially mascara), so nothing harboring pollens or bacteria can get in and bother your eyes.
Sadly, seasonal allergies often hit during the nicest times of year to be outside. That’s because spring and summer are seasons not just of backyard barbecues and hikes; they’re also seasons known for high pollen counts. Minimize allergies by limiting time outdoors, keeping your windows closed and running the air conditioner.
When you do go outside during seasonal allergy time, don’t forget to sport your sunnies. Not only will they protect your eyes and your vision from UV rays, they’ll also protect against allergens.
Know your indoor triggers
Eye allergies can also be caused by pet dander, dust mites and molds. Actions like washing hands after you pet your dog, keeping the humidity levels in your home between 30% and 50%, and using a HEPA filter for your air conditioner can help.
Talk to your eye doctor
If you experience severe symptoms or vision problems associated with your eye allergies, you should definitely seek out an appointment with your eye doctor to rule out infections or other eye conditions. There are also several medication options for people who suffer from allergies, including antihistamines, decongestants, mast cell stabilizers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroids.
Do you have eye allergy symptoms or other vision and eye problems you’d like to talk to an eye doctor about? We’re here to help you keep your eyes healthy. Contact us for an appointment today.