WHAT IS AN EYE ALLERGY?
An Eye Allergy is when exposure to an allergen causes your eyes to react and mount an immune response. This reaction usually results in itchy, watery eyes. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is the most common type of Eye Allergy. SAC symptoms appear in spring, summer or fall, depending on the type of pollens that are in the air.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Eye Allergy symptoms include itching, redness, burning and watery discharge from the eyes. Symptoms can range from mild irritation and blurring to vision impairment.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Since red, watery eyes can be a symptom of other illnesses, it is important to discuss the condition with your doctor. Tests can be performed to determine if you have an Eye Allergy. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold. Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, perfume and diesel exhaust, can also trigger a response. Your doctor will examine your eyes and may take a cell scraping from your inner eyelid to look for specific cell types.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
The best thing to do is to minimize your exposure to the allergen. If that is not an option, then decongestant eye drops or oral antihistamines may provide some short term relief. Extended use of over-the-counter eye drops, however, must be avoided as prolonged use may make your symptoms worse. There are also prescription eye drops and oral medications available for symptom relief. An additional treatment option is Immunotherapy (in the form of allergy shots or tablets), which involves gradually introducing your body to increasing amounts of the allergen. The goal is to increase your tolerance and therefore decrease your allergic response. See your Gateway Asthma & Allergy Relief doctor to determine what treatment option is best for you.