Are your eyes red and itchy right now just in the last few weeks? It might be due to all the pollen in air. It might be allergies!
What are ocular allergies?
When our eyes are exposed to substances like pollen, animal dander or mold spores, they can become red, itchy and watery. These are symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, which is an eye inflammation caused by allergic reaction.
Some people experience acute allergic conjunctivitis, which is a short-term inflammation that is more common during allergy season. The eyelids suddenly swell, itch and burn.
Less commonly, some people experience chronic allergic conjuncitvitis, which is a long-term allergic reaction that can be present year-round. The response is typically milder, with symptoms that come and go, including burning, itching and light sensitivity.
Minimize your exposure to allergens
- Close the windows and limit outdoor time when the pollen count is high.
- Wear a hat and/or sunglasses outdoors to limit exposure to airborne pollen.
- Keep your home dust-free.
- Use an indoor air purifier.
- Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, dyes and perfumes.
- Take shower at night to rinse away pollen from hair and skin before sleep.
- Wash pillow cases frequently, as pollen from your hair and body can collect on this surface near your eyes.
Use a cold compress
A cool moist washcloth can be placed over the eyes several times a day to relieve swelling and symptoms.
Keep your eyes hydrated
Dry eyes magnify the symptoms of ocular allergies because the eyelids cause friction with the front surfaces of the eye.
Ocular Allergy Medications
Your primary care doctor may recommend an oral or over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce or block histamine release or anti-inflammatory eye drops.
Avoid Visine: It contains an ingredient (Naphazoline) that can cause a rebound effect and the eyes look more red in the long-term, so avoid these products.
Ocular Antihistamines: These medicines reduce symptoms by chemically blocking the allergic reaction. Alaway, Zaditor and Pataday are over-the-counter medications that can be used daily for ocular allergies. Prescription ocular antihistamines are also available.
Ocular Anti-inflammatories: When other treatments are inadequate, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to relieve symptoms. These medications must be used under supervision of your doctor because they can cause elevated pressure inside the eye, which can lead to vision damage.
Can I still wear my contact lenses?
Allergens collect on the surfaces of the contact lenses, which can lead to decreased comfort. If you experience redness, burning or watering, immediately remove your contact lenses and clean them. If symptoms continue, remove the contacts and call the office.
If your contact lenses are uncomfortable, you and your doctor may discuss other options such as:
- Wearing glasses during high pollen count or allergy season.
- Switching to a hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleaning system (ClearCare or AquaClear) to deeply clean the proteins and deposits off the contacts.
- Switching to a daily disposable contact lens, minimizing buildup of allergens on the lens and reducing symptoms.
If you have any questions or concerns, call our office at 813-792-0637.