There are many symptoms associated with allergies. These can include allergies affecting the eyes, nose, sinuses, and skin. How do allergies affect the eyes in particular? Are there any specific eye allergies?
Sometimes allergies affect only the eyes, which causes itching, burning, and redness. There may also be clear, watery discharge. We know this condition as an eye allergy.
Oftentimes, we associate itchy eyes with seasonal allergies. Other symptoms that go along with these are congestion and coughing. These are symptoms of a nasal allergy.
An allergist is the best person to diagnose which type of allergy you have. They can also prescribe specific treatments.
The following allergens trigger eye allergies:
The body experiences an allergic reaction because the immune system can overreact to these substances. This overreaction leads to the release of histamine from the mast cells in the eyes. Your eyes will become red and inflamed and feel itchy and water. In some cases, symptoms are mild but can be serious and cause visual impairments.
Seasonal vs. Perennial Eye Allergies
There are two types of allergies that affect your eyes. We refer to them as seasonal and perennial allergies.
If an allergen is seasonal, such as pollen, symptoms are only experienced during specific seasons. A common allergen is pollen during the springtime. Another name for this condition is seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. It’s the most common form of eye allergy.
Sometimes dark circles develop under the eyes. Eyelids may swell and the nose congested. Due to the eyes’ itchiness, people tend to rub them often. However, the more you rub your eyes, the higher the risk of infection.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis, our second eye allergy type, causes symptoms year-round. These symptoms are usually milder than seasonal allergies, though. Dust mites, mold, or pet dandruff are the most common allergen triggers.
Other Forms of Eye Allergies
There are even more allergies that affect the eyes. In this section, we’ll dive into them a little more and their triggers.
Contact Allergic Conjunctivitis
This type of eye allergy is mostly experienced by people who wear contact lenses. The eye reacts to the contact lens and the compounds found in the liquid used to apply the lenses. In addition to the typical symptoms of eye allergies, a person may also feel discomfort. They could also experience a mucus discharge.
Makeup, perfume, and other cosmetics may also cause contact allergic conjunctivitis.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
A more severe form of contact allergic conjunctivitis is giant papillary conjunctivitis. This causes fluid sacs called papules to form in the inner eyelid. This can cause puffiness and itchiness, tearing, blurry vision, and a feeling of something in the eye.
Most people find these symptoms too uncomfortable to tolerate while wearing contact lenses.
People experience vernal keratoconjunctivitis year-round, but symptoms worsen seasonally. It’s often associated with more severe symptoms compared to seasonal or perennial allergies. Symptoms include feeling like something is in the eye, light sensitivity, itchiness, tearing, and thick mucus.
This allergy that affects the eyes requires treatment. A serious complication could lead to visual impairments. Boys are young men are more likely to develop this allergy than girls.
There is a strong association between vernal keratoconjunctivitis, asthma, and eczema.
Our last eye allergy is atopic keratoconjunctivitis. This occurs more often in older men who also have eczema. The symptoms are very similar to vernal keratoconjunctivitis.
People experiencing this allergy should seek medical attention for treatment. This will help to avoid complications such as cornea scars.
Treatment for Eye Allergies
It is possible to treat eye allergy symptoms with over-the-counter medications for nasal allergies. Antihistamines commonly used are Zyrtec, Benadryl, and Allegra. They provide relief for watery and itchy eyes by blocking histamine in the body.
Prescription antihistamines include Optivar and Emadine. You may combine these prescription antihistamines with decongestants. But do not take decongestants for more than a few days. In cases of glaucoma, they should not be used at all. Other medications include Crolom, Alamast, and Acular.
Steroid eye drops are usually reserved for severe, chronic eye allergies. They are to be used in the short term to avoid serious adverse reactions.
Home Remedies for Eye Allergies
There are remedies to relieve symptoms of allergies that affect the eyes at home. You can also prevent symptoms altogether with some of these tips.
Make sure to wear sunglasses when outside because this will help protect your eyes from the sun and block allergens like pollen.
You can use preservative-free saline water or cold compresses to rinse your eyes if they feel dry. Artificial tears or eye drops can also help relieve this symptom.
If you experience vernal keratoconjunctivitis, limit your use of contact lenses. Better yet, replace them completely with prescription eyeglasses.
Avoid rubbing and touching your eyes if they’re inflamed. You may experience more irritation and risk getting an infection.
If your symptoms get worse, seek medical attention promptly. In the case of eye pain or loss of vision, call your doctor immediately.
You may be surprised at the many different types of allergies that affect your eyes. Oftentimes, they are seasonal or perennial and are pretty common. However, they can be more severe and circumstantial like when you wear contact lenses.