About 20% of children and adults develop eye allergies, often suffering through itchy, red, watery eyes without seeking treatment. Even if your eye symptoms are tolerable, the doctors at Bronx Eye Associates encourage you to get an eye exam because the same symptoms may signal another eye disease. To schedule an appointment, call the office in the Bronx in New York City or book an appointment online.
Eye allergies begin when your immune system overreacts, identifying harmless substances as allergens out to damage your body.
Every time you encounter the allergen, your immune system automatically triggers an allergic response, releasing histamines and other chemicals that cause your allergy symptoms.
When you have eye allergies, the conjunctiva lining your eyes becomes inflamed and swollen. You’ll develop symptoms such as:
Many patients with eye allergies also have allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. If you have both types of allergies, you’ll also have nasal symptoms like a runny or congested nose and sneezing.
You can develop different types of eye allergies, but the most common, called allergic conjunctivitis, is caused by the same airborne allergens as allergic rhinitis.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by pollen from trees, grasses, and ragweed. Eye allergies that bother you all year are caused by dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores. Some mold spores may also trigger seasonal allergies.
Another type of eye allergy, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, affects adults with a history of atopic dermatitis, or eczema. In some cases, eye allergies develop due to cigarette smoke, cosmetics, preservatives in eye drops, and medications.
You may also develop eye allergies from your contact lenses. This happens when proteins in your tears attach to the surface of your contact lenses and trigger an allergic response.
Your doctor at Bronx Eye Associates recommends several treatment options, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
The first line of treatment is avoiding your allergens. This could include taking steps such as staying indoors when the pollen count is high, keeping your windows closed, and wearing wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
If you wear contacts, you may want to switch to disposable contacts or temporarily go back to eyeglasses. These steps can relieve your symptoms because contacts can trap airborne allergens against your eye.
Over-the-counter or prescription medications, whether oral or as eyedrops, can effectively relieve allergy symptoms.
When you can’t get adequate symptom relief or your eye allergies are severe, you may want to consider immunotherapy or allergy shots. This type of treatment builds up tolerance until your immune system stops reacting to allergens.
If you struggle with itchy, watery, red eyes, call Bronx Eye Associates or book an appointment online.