EYE ALLERGIES & RED EYE
Inside, outside, at home, at work: allergens are everywhere and they can be extremely frustrating. Most people are familiar with seasonal allergies, which can cause a variety of symptoms. But for some people, eye allergies can be a year-round issue.
Most eye allergies are caused when allergens in the air—including pollen, dust mites, mold, pet hair or dander, smoke and makeup or perfumes—come in contact with the eyes. To fight off these allergens, your eyes produce histamine. This reaction can irritate the thin membrane that covers the white part of your eyes and the inside of your eyelids. The unpleasant result is usually red, itchy eyes.
Eye Allergy Symptoms
Not everyone’s eyes react in the same way when they come in contact with allergens and other irritants. And not everyone shares the same eye allergies, but here are some common symptoms to look for if you think your symptoms are allergy related.
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Swollen or inflamed eyelids
- Burning or tearing of the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- If accompanied by nasal allergies, you may also experience a stuffy, itchy nose, sneezing, headache, an itchy or sore throat or coughing
Some eye allergy symptoms are similar to those of other eye conditions, such as dry eye. However, the cause of the symptoms is different. It's important to know what's causing your symptoms so you can choose the proper treatment. Learn more about dry eye here.
Treating Eye Allergy Symptoms
Eye allergies can be annoying, but fortunately, you have many effective choices for treating them. Most people choose one of the several different types of eye drops available. They’re safe, convenient and most don’t require a prescription.
Artificial tears relieve eyes by adding moisture and washing away allergens from the eye. Antihistamine drops relieve itchy eyes by reducing histamine, the substance that causes the irritation. Decongestant drops reduce eye redness by shrinking the tiny blood vessels in the eye and may also contain an antihistamine for itch relief.
If symptoms are severe enough, steroid eye drops or allergy shots may be called for. Some oral antihistamines can help relieve allergy symptoms, but they can actually worsen eye irritation. Your doctor or eye care professional can help you find the solution that works best for you.
Eye Allergies Prevention Tips
Sometimes the easiest way to minimize eye discomfort is to avoid eye allergens when you can, or limit your exposure to them.
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is high
- Wear glasses or sunglasses when outside
- Keep home and car windows closed
- Keep air conditioning units and filters clean
- Don’t use window fans
- Keep your home’s humidity level around 30 percent to 50 percent
- Frequently clean high-humidity areas like kitchens, basements and bathrooms
- Use a dehumidifier in overly humid or moist areas like basements
- Limit exposure to dust mites:
- Use allergen-reducing bedding (especially pillows)
- Wash bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees)
- Use a damp mop or rag (instead of a broom) to clean floors
Pet Hair & Dander
- Keep pets outside as much as possible
- Keep pets out of the bedroom
- Always wash your hands after touching a pet
- Wash clothing that has been exposed to pets
- Vacuum regularly
- Quit smoking
- Avoid secondhand smoke
Makeup or Perfumes
- Remove makeup from face and around eyes before going to bed
- Avoid using strong-smelling perfumes or colognes
Eye Allergy Relief
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