Normally harmless substances that
cause problems for individuals who are predisposed to allergic reactions are
called allergens. The most common airborne allergens that cause eye allergies
are pollen, mold, dust and pet dander.
Eye allergies also can be caused by
reactions to certain cosmetics or eye drops,
including artificial tears used
for treating dry eyes that
Food allergies and allergic
reactions to bee stings or other insect bites typically do not affect the eyes
as severely as airborne allergens do.
Eye Allergy Relief
get relief from your eye allergies and itchy, watery eyes, you can take a few
approaches: Avoiding allergens. As the old
saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." (By
the way, Benjamin Franklin said that — the same guy who invented bifocals!) The best
approach to controlling your eye allergy symptoms is to do everything you can
to limit your exposure to common allergens you are sensitive to.
example, on days when the pollen count is high, stay indoors as much as
possible, with the air conditioner running to filter the air. Use high quality
furnace filters that can trap common allergens and replace the filters
you do go outdoors during allergy season, wear wraparoundsunglasses to help
shield your eyes from pollen, ragweed, etc., and drive with your windows
closed. Removing your contacts. Because
the surface of contact lenses can attract
and accumulate airborne allergens, consider wearing only eyeglasses during
allergy season. Or consider switching to daily disposable
you discard after a single use to avoid the buildup of allergens and other
debris on your lenses.
the best choice if allergies are bothering your eyes is to discontinue wearing
contacts altogether — at least until all your allergy symptoms are gone. Also,
wearing eyeglasses with photochromic
reduce allergy-related sensitivity to light and can help shield your eyes from
airborne allergens. Over-the counter eye drops. Because eye
allergies are so common, there are a number of brands of non-prescription eye
drops available that are formulated to relieve itchiness, redness and watery
eyes caused by allergies.
your eye allergy symptoms are relatively mild, over-the-counter eye drops for
allergy relief may work very well for you and may be less expensive than
prescription eye drops or other medication. Ask your eye doctor to recommend a
brand to try. Prescription medications. If your
allergy symptoms are relatively severe or over-the-counter eye drops are
ineffective at providing relief, you may need your eye doctor to prescribe a
eye drops and oral medications used to relieve eye allergies include:
Antihistamines. Part of the body's
natural allergic response is the release of histamine, a substance that dilates
blood vessels and making the walls of blood vessels abnormally permeable.
Symptoms caused by histamine include a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Antihistamines reduce allergic reactions by blocking the attachment of
histamine to cells in the body that produce an allergic response.
Decongestants. Decongestants help
shrink swollen nasal passages for easier breathing. They also reduce the
size of blood vessels on the white (sclera) of the eye to relieve red eyes. Common decongestants
include phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Combination drugs are available
that contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant.
Mast cell stabilizers. These medications cause
changes in mast cells that prevent them from
releasing of histamine and related mediators of allergic reactions. Because
it may take several weeks for the full effects of mast cell stabilizers to
take effect, these medications are best used before allergy season starts
as a method to prevent or reduce the severity of future allergic reactions
(rather than to treat acute allergic symptoms that already exist).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAID eye drops may be
prescribed to decrease swelling, inflammation and other symptoms
associated with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, also called hay fever.
Steroids. Corticosteroid eye
drops are sometimes prescribed to provide relief from acute eye allergy
symptoms. But potential side effects of long-term use of these medications
include high eye pressure, glaucoma and cataracts, so they typically are
prescribed for short-term use only.
Immunotherapy. This is a treatment where an
allergy specialist injects you with small amounts of allergens to help you
gradually build up immunity. Eye Allergies And Contact Lenses
Contact lens discomfort is a common
complaint during allergy season, leading some wearers to question whether they
are becoming allergic to contact lenses.
The issue of being allergic to contacts
also comes up from time to time when a person starts wearing silicone hydrogel
contact lenses after successfully wearing standard soft (hydrogel) contact
lenses and experiences allergy-like symptoms.
Studies have shown that the culprit
behind eye allergies associated with contact lens wear is not an allergic
reaction to the contact lens itself, but to substances that accumulate on the
surface of the lenses.
In the case of switching from regular
soft contacts to silicone hydrogel lenses, the surface and chemical
characteristics of the lens material may attract lens deposits more readily than
the previous lens material, causing discomfort.
Many eye care practitioners believe the
best type of soft contact lenses for people prone to eye allergies are daily
disposable lenses that are discarded after a single use, which decreases the
buildup of allergens and other debris on the lens surface.
Silicone hydrogel often is the
preferred lens material for these lenses, because it allows significantly more
oxygen to pass through the lens, compared with conventional soft contact lens
allergies — red, itchy, watery eyes that are bothered by the
same irritants that cause sneezing and a runny nose among seasonal allergy
sufferers — are very common.
some cases, eye allergies can play a role in conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other eye infections.
8 Tips for Eye Allergy Sufferers
Get an early start. See your eye
doctor before allergy season begins to learn how to reduce your
sensitivity to allergens.
Try to avoid or limit your
exposure to the primary causes of your eye allergies. In the spring and
summer, pollen from trees and grasses are the usual suspects. Ragweed
pollen is the biggest culprit in late summer and fall. Mold, dust mites
and pet dander are common indoor allergens during winter.
Protect your eyes from airborne
allergens outdoors by wearing wraparound-style sunglasses.
Don't rub your eyes if they itch!
Eye rubbing releases more histamine and makes your allergy symptoms worse.
Use plenty of artificial tears to
wash airborne allergens from your eyes. Ask your eye doctor which brands
are best for you.
Cut down your contact lens wear or
switch to daily disposable lenses to reduce the buildup of allergens on
Shower before bedtime and gently
clean your eyelids to remove any pollen that could cause irritation while
Consider purchasing an air
purifier for your home, and purchase an allergen-trapping filter for your
heating or cooling system.
Our eye care specialists give you the thorough
eye care to a diverse clientele with professional support for various eye health
matters such as dry eye, glaucoma, and many others.