Eye Allergies: Causes, Types and Treatments
Do you suffer from allergies? Learn the difference between various types of allergies that affect the eyes.
When people think about allergies, they usually think of sneezing and stuffy noses. Bur red, itchy eyes are also a big part of an allergy attack, and they can cause pain and interfere with your vision. In this article we’ll explain why allergens trigger this kind of reaction, different types of eye allergies and what you can do to treat allergies at home and at the doctor’s office.
Allergic reactions in the eye can be set off by both indoor and outdoor allergens. These include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or even feathers. Symptoms of allergies include (but aren’t limited to) red, irritated eyes, itchiness, runny eyes (tearing up), swollen eyelids and light sensitivity.
Your immune system is usually helpful in fighting sickness and keeping you well. Sometimes, it will misfire and attempt to fight off something that isn’t a disease, like dander or pollen. When this happens, it’s because you have an allergy. Your body releases histamine, which is a chemical that causes inflammation of the blood vessels in your eyes. In other words, they cause your eyes to become red and swollen. This is why some allergy medicines are called “antihistamines.”
Here are some of the most common eye allergies:
Seasonal and Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis: This is by far the most common kind of eye allergy. The seasonal variety occurs in the fall and spring, depending on the type of pollen in the air, and the perennial can occur all year round (a pet allergy, for instance). Symptoms include red, itchy eyes, burning and discharge, and is usually accompanied by sneezing and runny nose.
Vernal Keratoconjuctivitis: This type of allergy primarily affects boys and young men who also have eczema or asthma. It is similar to seasonal allergies but more severe, and includes itching, thick mucus, light sensitivity and the feeling of having something in your eye.
Atopic Keratoconjuctivitis: This type of allergy usually affects older patients who have a history of contact dermatitis. Symptoms include severe itching and burning, redness, and thick mucus that can cause the eyelids to stick together.
Contact Allergic Conjunctivitis: This type of allergy is the result of irritation from contact lenses. Symptoms include redness, itching, and mucus discharge.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis: This allergy is also related to contact lens wear, but is more severe, and causes the formation of fluid sacs in the eyelid. Symptoms include itchiness and puffiness, tearing, blurred vision, the feeling of having something in your eye, and the inability to wear contact lenses comfortably.
As we mentioned above, seasonal allergies are by far the most common type of eye allergy and can usually be treated with over the counter medications like antihistamines. If you aren’t responding to medication or aren’t sure what kind of allergic reaction you are having, set up an appointment to see a doctor. You can give us a call at 866-439-3588 to set up an appointment with Sterling Vision, or make an appointment online.
Other ways to reduce symptoms include over the counter or prescription eye drops, allergy shots, wearing sunglasses while outside, rinsing your eyes with sterile water, taking out your contact lenses, and controlling how much you rub or touch your eyes. Call your doctor right away if your eyes are painful or if you start to experience vision loss.