Red, itchy eyes that tear up make it almost impossible to carry on with your normal, day-to-day activities. Eye allergy, also called allergic conjunctivitis, is a common reaction to allergens, such as pet dander, dust, mold, and pollen. Many eye allergy remedies are readily available to keep your eyes clear and bright.
How Will I Know If I Have Eye Allergies?
You may have an allergy if your symptoms include eye tearing, burning, redness, swelling, and irritation after exposure to common allergens. Eye symptoms can occur alone or with other allergy symptoms such as:
Blue-colored circles under your eyes
Itchy nose, mouth, throat or skin
Hives, which are raised areas or welts on your skin
Stuffy or runny nose
Your doctor is the best person to determine if your symptoms are due to an eye allergy or other conditions, such as an eye infection. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history.
Your doctor may also order certain tests. A skin prick test entails pricking the skin with a tiny amount of allergy causing substances and watching for a reaction. A blood test can determine if a certain type of antibody is present. Specific IgG antibodies are the substances in your blood that cause an allergic reaction.
Who Gets Eye Allergies?
Eye allergies occur often in children and young adults. If allergies run in your family, you have a higher risk of eye allergies. Contact with a high level of dust mites, especially as a child, can increase your risk of eye allergies.
What Can I Do to Prevent Eye Allergies?
The easiest way to prevent red, itchy eyes is to avoid your allergens, which are the substances that cause your symptoms. Follow these guidelines to lessen your contact with common allergens, such as dust, mold, pollen and animal dander:
Keep your house clean and dry with a humidity level below 55%. This reduces common allergens, such as dust, mold, and dust mites. You may need to invest in a programmable thermostat with humidity control.
Wear a dust mask when you sweep, dust, vacuum, rake leaves, and mow the lawn. If possible have someone else do these activities.
Close windows, use air conditioning, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high, often in the morning and on warm, dry, windy days.
Wash your hands, change your clothes and take a shower after being outdoors or in contact with pets.
Vacuum mattresses and wash linens frequently in hot water to reduce dust mites. Use “mite-proof” covers on mattresses and pillows. Install blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting.
Use a furnace filter and air purifier designed for allergies.
What Are the Best Remedies for Eye Allergy Relief?
If avoiding allergens isn’t enough to help your symptoms, you may need eye drops that contain the following medications:
Antihistamines to relieve itchy eyes
Decongestants to reduce eye redness. You can also buy eye drops that combine a decongestant with an antihistamine.
Corticosteroids to relieve severe or long-term eye allergy symptoms
You can also use saline eye drops or artificial tears to rinse out allergens from the eye after you have been in contact with pets or after being outside.
In some cases, allergy shots can help relieve symptoms that are not controlled with other medications.
You should not use some medications, such as decongestants, in your eyes for more than a few days. Medications can also have side effects so check with your doctor before trying any medications.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Let your doctor know if you have chronic eye irritation that is interfering with your daily life. Following your doctor’s treatment advice will help control your symptoms.
You should also notify your doctor if:
Your symptoms do not improve
You notice side effects from your eye drops or other medications
New symptoms occur such as a thick eye discharge, which is a symptom of an eye infection