For many people, spring and summer are their favorite seasons of the year. Still, for all the outdoor fun that comes during the middle months of the calendar, there’s also a threat that often lurks in the shadows – allergies. Since our air and environment have gotten dirtier over time, it’s no surprise that so many people suffer with this issue. One specific ailment that tends to afflict many people is allergic conjunctivitis, also known as eye allergy.
Allergic conjunctivitis is actually one form of conjunctivitis along with bacterial and viral. Conjunctivitis simply refers to inflammation of your eyes’ conjunctiva. The conjunctiva acts as a thin layered membrane that covers the white part of your eye (called the sclera) as well as the inside of your eyelid. So, whenever an allergen appears in the eye, the eye’s natural response is to produce histamine to get rid of that allergen. Unfortunately, this also creates an allergic reaction in the form of swelling and redness along the conjunctiva and eyelids. Eye allergies generally tend to coincide with nasal allergies. It’s important to know that allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious (unlike its bacterial or viral counterparts).
Some common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:
- Red, swollen, or itchy eyes
- Burning or constantly tearing eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Watery or mucus discharge
- Shared symptoms with nasal allergies
Check with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to see if your symptoms could be the result of an eye allergy. The professionals at Northside Eye Care are available to help diagnose and treat any symptoms you may be having.
What are some common culprits that cause eye allergies?
Many times, our eyes react negatively to dust, mold, grass pollen, and ragweed. Sometimes, perfumes and cosmetics can trigger an allergic reaction. Exposure to smoke and unusually bright lights have also been known to cause problems. Finally, heredity plays a role for some people in contracting allergic conjunctivitis.
So, if you’re diagnosed or suspect that you’re suffering from this condition, what are some available treatments?
Artificial tears can offer temporary relief for your eyes in many cases. Decongestant eye drops help to reduce redness and swelling (use these on a short term basis only). Corticosteroids are a stronger type of eye drops for more chronic and severe forms of allergic reaction. Finally, the simplest solution is recognizing and avoiding the specific allergen that’s harming your eyes in the first place.
Allergens surround us all the time. But itchy eyes from allergies don’t have to ruin the fun. We can take measures to protect our eyes from allergies and still enjoy our lives. With proper management and care, eye allergies should be completely out of mind – and out of sight.