Allergies and the Eyes
Approximately 30 million people in the US suffer from seasonal itchy, swollen, red eyes. Airborne allergens such as pollen, house dust, animal dander and mold constantly bombard the eyes and can cause ocular allergies at any time…. but when spring rolls around and the plant pollens start to fly, it seems as if almost everyone starts to cry.
Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis, or hay fever is the most common allergic eye problem. Various antihistamine and decongestant eyedrops and sprays can sooth your irritated eyes and nose. If you suffer from dry eye discuss using over the counter antihistamine drops as they can cause further dry eye problems.
Make every effort to avoid allergens, speak with an allergist to help determine what you are allergic to so that you may stay away from it. If you have been outdoors, shower if possible, to remove pollens and allergens. Change your pillow and pillowcases often, keep windows closed when possible and keep household filters clean.
Applying cold compresses to the eyes helps decrease swelling and itching, using refrigerated non-preserved artificial tears dilutes the allergens and forms a protective barrier over the surface of the eye. AVOID rubbing your eyes as this activates the “allergic cascade” which makes symptoms worse.
Your doctor will recommend either an OTC anti-allergy drop (Pataday, Zaditor, Opcon-A) a prescription allergy or steroid eye drop. These drops are often more effective in relieving symptoms if stored cold in the refrigerator. In some cases, oral medications may be needed as well. It is possible another, more serious eye condition can mimic allergies, please see your eye doctor
And remember DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES