Miseries of allergies are faced by millions of people all over the world, with allergic reactions involving the eyes being a common complaint. A reaction that affects the conjunctiva, a clear layer of skin overlying the eyes, is commonly referred to as allergic conjunctivitis. It is a common condition that occurs when the eyes react to allergen which creates irritation. Symptoms and Causes Many eye allergies are caused by the body’s response to allergens in the air — both indoors and outdoors. People who suffer from eye allergies usually have nasal allergies as well, with an itchy, stuffy nose and sneezing. It is usually a temporary condition associated with seasonal allergies. What has been observed is that eye allergies can develop from exposure to other environmental triggers. Most common airborne allergens are pet dander, dust, smoke, perfumes, or even foods. If the exposure is ongoing, the allergies can be more severe, with significant burning and itching and even sensitivity to light. Prevention and treatment
- Removing your contacts: Because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens, consider wearing only eyeglasses during allergy season.
- Over-the-counter medicines: Many anti-allergic medications may contain steroids, long term use of which has adverse effects leading to glaucoma and cataract. It is best to avoid self-medication and consult an eye specialist especially for chronic cases.
- Prescription medications: If your allergy symptoms are persistent or relatively severe, you may need your eye doctor to prescribe a stronger medication.
- Immunotherapy: This is a treatment where an allergy specialist injects you with small amounts of allergens to help you gradually build up immunity.
Prevention- See your eye doctor before allergy symptoms start to intensify, to learn how to reduce your sensitivity to allergens.
- Try to avoid contact with the possible triggers which cause your eye allergies.
- Don’t rub your eyes if they itch. This will release more histamine and make your eye allergy symptoms worse.
- Use plenty of eye drops to wash airborne allergens from your eyes. Ask your eye doctor about proper medication and hygiene practices.
- Cut down your contact lens wear or switch to daily disposable lenses to reduce the build-up of allergens on your lenses.
*The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Centre for Sight.