Certain people’s eyes can react strongly to particles in the air or the environment called allergens, especially in the springtime. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the lining under the eyelids and over the eye become irritated and swollen.
- Watery eyes
- Eyelid swelling
- Dark circles under eyelids
- Transient blurred vision
- Sticking of the eyelid especially in the morning
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Common types of eye allergies:
- Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC): Most often occurs for only a few months during the year. Common triggers are pollen or hay fever
- Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC): occurs year round usually from dust mites, mold, perfumes, smoke or pet hair.
- Atopic keratoconjunctivitis: More severe symptoms than SAC or PAC affecting those with a history or eczema and asthma. If left untreated, it can lead to scarring on the clear surface of the eye.
- Contact dermatitis: Triggered by detergents or makeup or products on the skin around the eye.
- Contact lens related keratitis: Develops due to prolonged contact lens use, cleaning solutions, or due to mechanical irritation of the contact lens.
What Can You Do
- Close doors and windows or stay inside when pollen counts are high
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to limit exposure
- Use ‘mite-proof’ pillow covers to limit dust mites
- Wash hands after touching pets
Comfort the eyes
- Use cold water to rinse your eyes
- A cool towel over the eyes can be soothing
Over the counter medication
- Artificial tears can soothe the eye and clear the allergens. Try preservative free artificial tears if you have very sensitive eyes
- Antihistamine drops can help with itching symptoms
- Non-drowsy oral antihistamines may help but, can cause dry eyes.
- Avoid overuse of decongestant “get the red” out eye drops, as prolonged you will cause rebound redness and irritation.
Avoid contact lenses
- Stay out of your contact lenses. Wear your glasses until your eyes are no longer irritated.
When To Talk To Your Doctor
- For severe cases, Your eye doctor may recommend prescription eye drops such as corticosteroid eye drops, mast cell stabilizer, and stronger antihistamine medications.
- If you are not able to tolerate contact lens use, talk to your doctor about alternatives such as glasses, different types of contact lenses or LASIK.
- An Allergy specialist can help you determine what allergies are affecting you. Allergy testing and shots may be recommended.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations
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