How Do Allergies Affect the Eyes?

ysm allergiesSpring is in full bloom and that means one thing to most of us- allergies! But you don’t have to suffer in silence. An eye doctor can help guide you through the suffering and even provide you with a medical solution if your level of allergies requires something more than a tissue!

The eyes are affected by allergies in much of the same way the rest of the body is affected by allergies. When an allergen comes in contact with the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines your eyes, the immune system kicks in. Instead of just letting the allergen go, your body produces antibodies to fight off what it perceives to be an invading substance. The antibodies trigger chemicals, including histamine, which cause allergic symptoms. These symptoms can affect your eyes in the form of itching, burning and tearing; your eyes can also turn red or become puffy.

The allergic eye symptoms mentioned above are called allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies. Thankfully, eye allergies cannot cause any long-term damage to the eyes however sufferers may notice short-term vision blurriness if the symptoms are bad. Often, allergic conjunctivitis affects allergy sufferers in conjunction with nasal allergies.

The most common culprits behind eye allergies are airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold. Depending on your specific allergy, you may suffer year-round or just during a certain season. Some people suffer from chronic eye allergies due to cosmetics or eye drops. Additionally, irritants like cigarette smoke, perfume and car exhaust can result in the same symptoms as eye allergies however they are not actual allergic reactions.

If you cannot prevent exposure to an allergen that affects your eyes, there are some medications available to relieve the discomfort. Decongestant eye drops can eliminate the redness but do not always provide lasting relief.  Saline rinses can help wash allergen from the eyes and oral antihistamines can also be used for additional relief. Some of the most effective allergy medications are available only by prescription.   Find a doctor now to help relieve your eye irritation from allergies.