Most allergens are in the air which is where they come in contact with the eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander. Other causes of allergies, including allergies to certain foods or insect bites, do not typically affect the eyes the way airborne allergens do. Adverse reactions to cosmetics or drugs may also cause eye allergies.
The most common treatment available is to avoid whatever is causing the eye allergy. This includes keeping the home free of dust and pet dander and keeping the air conditioning on while a lot of pollen is in the air. Air conditioners help to filter out allergens, though the filters must be cleaned often. Sufferers of allergies may also benefit from immunotherapy, in which an allergy specialist injects the person with small amounts of the allergen to help them gradually build up immunity.
Our eyes are very sensitive normally, but eyes may overreact to a substance perceived as harmful even though it may not be. Dust which may be harmless to most people may cause excessive production of tears and mucus in eyes of overly sensitive and allergic individuals. Eye allergies are often heredity and affect many people in the United States.
Allergies may trigger other problems, such as pink eye and asthma. Most people who suffer from allergies also have allergic conjunctivitis. Common signs of allergies include red and swollen eyes, tearing or itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy nose, mouth, or throat, and headaches from sinus congestion.
Over the counter and prescription medications designed specifically to reduce eye allergies have their advantages and disadvantages. Eye drops are essentially eye washes and have one or more active ingredients such as antihistamines, decongestants, or mast cell stabilizers. Antihistamines relieve many symptoms caused by airborne allergens, such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
Decongestants help to clear up redness in the eyes by making the blood vessels in the eyes appear smaller, thus lessening the apparent redness. These treat the symptom, but not the actual cause of the redness. With extended use, the blood vessels can become dependent on the eye drops so when their use is discontinued, the vessels actually get bigger than they were to begin with. This process may result in red eyes which get worse over time.
For those allergy sufferers who wear contact lenses, allergy season can make wearing contacts very uncomfortable. Airborne allergens can get on the lenses, causing discomfort. Allergens can also stimulate the excessive production of natural substances in the eyes which bind to the contacts and make them very uncomfortable.
Asking your eye doctor about eye drops that can help relieve symptoms and keep contact lenses clean is the best choice as certain drops can discolor or damage certain contact lenses. Another alternative is to use daily disposable contact lenses, which are discarded nightly. Because they are replaced so frequently, disposable contact lenses are unlikely to develop irritating deposits that can build up over time and cause or heighten allergy related discomfort.