Eye Exams and Vision Care at Eye Mechanix
Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, are caused by environmental allergens and irritants. While their symptoms range in severity from uncomfortable to incapacitating, it’s often possible to attain relief.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Allergies occur when the immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain allergens, such as dust mites or pollen. Histamines are released into the bloodstream when allergens are introduced to the body, causing swelling and inflammation.
Some airborne allergens that can cause eye allergies to include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Non-airborne allergens include:
- Cleaning chemicals
- Preservatives in multi-use eye drops
- Contact lens solutions
- Skin-care products
What Are Common Symptoms of Eye Allergies?
When your eyes come in contact with an allergen you may start to have symptoms almost immediately, or hours or days later. Eye allergy symptoms include:
- Burning or painful eyes
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Irritated or itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
How To Treat Eye Allergies
Once your eye doctor has thoroughly examined your eyes and ruled out other causes of your symptoms, they can advise you on how best to treat your symptoms.
Decongestants or Antihistamines
Decongestants can help you breathe easier by shrinking swollen nasal pathways that might become inflamed due to allergies. Decongestants can also shrink the blood vessels in the whites of the eyes, relieving red eyes.
Antihistamines work by blocking the attachment of the histamine to the body’s cells that produce an allergic reaction, reducing or eliminating symptoms.
Limit Allergen Exposure
A good way to reduce allergy flare-ups is to avoid allergens or at least reduce exposure to them. If pollen causes your eyes to become itchy and red, try limiting your time outdoors and driving with the windows closed. In addition, wearing wrap-around glasses can protect your eyes from allergens and irritants.
Temporarily Remove Your Contact Lenses
Allergens can accumulate on the surface of contact lenses, which makes it difficult to get rid of symptoms while wearing them. If you suffer from eye allergies, try temporarily switching to glasses and see if your symptoms continue. For many people, the best contact lenses for those with eye allergies are daily disposables, which are discarded at the end of each day.
Try Eye Drops
Over-the-counter antihistamine and lubricating eye drops can help soothe itchy, irritated, and red eyes. There are many brands and types of drops that will offer the best relief. Your eye doctor may even prescribe a more powerful eye drop than the ones available at your local drugstore.
Aside from soothing irritated eyes, artificial tears and lubricating eye drops can help remove any foreign substances and flush the eye of allergens.
Scheduling an eye exam at Eye Mechanix in Lincoln Park is the best way to rule out other possible eye conditions and determine the cause of your symptoms. If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact us today.
Q: Are eye allergies dangerous?
- A: Most eye allergies are more irritating than dangerous. They can, however, cause scarring of the cornea due to all the eye rubbing.
Q: How can I tell whether it's an eye allergy or eye infection?
- A: If you experience eye pain and ocular discharge (excluding tears), there’s a strong chance you might have an infection. Viral eye infections usually clear up on their own, but bacterial eye infections can only be treated with medication. If you suspect you have an eye infection, make sure to visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.
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