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How Do Allergies Affect Your Eyes?

If you’ve ever experienced uncomfortable eye allergy effects, you know how frustrating they can be. But many people don’t really know why they occur, or if there’s any way to prevent them. Since allergies are in full bloom and likely not going away anytime soon, here’s a look at the causes and how to treat eye allergies.

An Overview

In a nutshell, eye allergies arise when the immune system overreacts to something in the environment, typically called an “allergen.” According to The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, an allergic reaction in the eyes takes place when the allergen “comes in contact with antibodies attached to the mast cells in your eyes; the cells respond by releasing histamine and other substances or chemicals that cause tiny blood vessels to leak” and prompt a host of symptoms.

What are the Symptoms?

If you’re affected by eye allergies, you’ve probably noticed redness, itchiness and discharge in the eyes. What makes matters worse is, if you wear contacts and experience eye allergies, you may become even more symptomatic. The addition of the contact lens on already inflamed eyes often results in discomfort, puffiness or even blurred vision.

What Causes Eye Allergies?

The root cause(s) of eye allergies vary from person to person, but there are some general groups of allergens that are usually the most common culprits. Among them are pollen, grass, weeds and trees. For example, many people have a terrible time in the spring with eye allergies, because many of these typical environmental allergens are blooming or growing during this time.

There are also indoor allergens that are known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Some of the ones most frequently cited are pet dander (especially from cats), mold and dust mites. For instance, you might notice that your eye allergies flare up when you’re moving or cleaning, and this could be why.

Finally, there are other allergens known as “irritants” that can trigger an allergic response. Perfume and cigarette smoke are two examples of this. If you experience eye allergy symptoms regularly, you can help yourself out by avoiding these types of irritants since exposure to these allergens is almost entirely preventable.

How Do I Treat Eye Allergies?

While there are over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops and medications available at every drugstore, it’s best to check with an eye doctor before deciding which is best for you. Your eye doctor can direct you to the best OTC antihistamine drops for your particular situation or order you prescription eye drops if necessary. They can also let you know whether they think any sort of oral antihistamine would help you, as well.

In the meantime, keep windows closed as often as possible and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching pets or plants. Ladies can also help their eyes by avoiding eye makeup while suffering from eye allergy effects. If you usually wear contact lenses and are experiencing an allergy flare-up, consider giving your eyes a break and wearing glasses for a few days. Or, you can always consider LASIK laser eye surgery, if this is a recurring problem. Contact us if you’d like to learn more or schedule an eye exam.