Eye Allergies

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Adult-Male--New-.jpgIf you suffer from seasonal eye allergies, consult Dr. Mitchell. Many different types of treatments for eye allergies are available by prescription. Be sure to see an ophthalmologist for prescription information if you experience unusual eye pain, tearing, itching or swelling.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

The eyeball and inside of your eyelids is covered by a clear, thin membrane, known as the conjunctiva. If something irritates the conjunctiva, your eyes may itch, hurt, water and become swollen and red. This is called conjunctivitis or "pink eye." Pink eye occurs as a result of a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. If an allergic reaction causes irritation, it is called allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergy. Allergic conjunctivitis can occur alone or along with nasal allergy symptoms.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be either seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which is much more common, occurs after exposure to airborne allergens, like molds and pollen. Persons with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis often experience symptoms during early spring, summer and fall. Persons with perennial allergic conjunctivitis can have symptoms throughout the year that are typically triggered by air pollution, perfumes or cosmetics.

Common allergens include:

  • Smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Cosmetics
  • Perfumes
  • Pollen from grass, trees and ragweed
  • Animal skin and secretions, like saliva
  • Skin medications

Unlike conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial or viral infection, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis rarely affects eyesight.

You can avoid getting allergic conjunctivitis by identifying and avoiding your allergens. For example, if you are allergic to mold or pollen, remain indoors when mold and pollen levels are high. Keep your doors and windows closed, and use the air conditioner during the summer.

If you're experiencing symptoms, placing a cool washcloth over the affected eye can bring relief as well as taking antihistamine pills.

Eye drops can also help relieve symptoms. Drops may be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed. Always wash your hands before applying eye drops. Open the bottle, being careful that its tip does not touch anything. Pull your lower eyelid down with your finger, and look up or into a mirror. Squeeze one drop into the bottom lid, trying not to touch your eyelid with the tip of the bottle. Gently close your eye to allow the medication to absorb. Initially, most eye drops can cause stinging and burning, which typically subsides in a few moments. Speak with Dr. Mitchell before using any eye drops. He can decide what method of treatment is best for you.