Having allergies can mean more than the sniffling and sneezing that most people associate with it. It's Red, swollen, itchy eyes may also be a significant sign of allergies that can come whether you are sneezing uncontrollably or not.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the scientific name for this condition. It is caused, like any allergic reaction, by a mistaken triggering of your body's immune system. Allergens cause your immune system “panic” causing it to react negatively to things which actually pose no harm to the body at all. Allergens such as pet dander, pollen and dust can trigger this reaction. This allergic reaction releases a chemical called histamine, which makes your eyes dry out and produce more tears. This reaction is meant to flush out foreign objects. The blood vessels in your eyes also become inflamed, which is what gives your eyes their bloodshot look.
There are many different symptoms of eye allergies. In addition to the sneezing, runny nose and congestion often associated with allergies, many allergy sufferers have symptoms in their eyes as well. These allergy symptoms can range from teary eyes, to itchy, red, and more irritated eyes. In more extreme cases, you may experience soreness, pain or even burning sensations. Your eyelids may be swollen and you may be sensitive to light.
Many things may cause an allergic reaction. Grass, weed and tree pollen, as well as dust and pet dander, are among the best-known allergens. Less well known is that it is also possible for a person to be allergic to everyday items such as makeup or perfume, and even contact lenses. Also not well know is that, while it is very common for allergic symptoms to come out immediately upon contact with the allergen, it is also possible for an allergic reaction to present itself as much as four days after original contact with an allergen.
Although allergies usually stop once the allergen is removed, and the eyes return to normal, this is not always possible with allergens such as dust and pollen, since they are just about everywhere. For these and other allergies, eye doctors recommend eye drops either over the counter or prescription. These eye drops should help to minimize the effects of the allergens in your environment. Many of these eye drops are formulated as anti-histamines, meaning that they block histamine from the body. There are also a number of other ways that these eye drops will work to relieve or prevent allergic symptoms.
Artificial tears are also an excellent option to relieve dry eye symptoms caused by allergens. These eye drops are specially formulated to imitate the tears that the allergic reaction has dried up. Artificial tears are mostly by prescription and have proven to perform better in some cases than over the counter eye drops.
In addition to the eye drops and medications listed above, here are a few other tips for allergy sufferers:
- Make sure to wear sunglasses - specifically wrap-around sunglasses - when going out. Not only will it help to reduce the glare and pain associated with severe eye allergies, but it will also help to block out pollen, ragweed or other irritants.
- Remove your contact lenses, Many airborne allergens can be attracted to the surface of your lenses and will only serve to make your allergy symptoms worse. Wear your glasses instead - they may even help block out many of the irritants.
- Make sure the air conditioner or forced air heating system has a good filter that will help to prevent dust and other irritants from circulating throughout your home
- And above all, do not rub your eyes! This will only irritate your eyes further, and make things much worse for you!
For more information, and for help clearing up your eye allergies, contact your eye doctor today.