Eye Allergies: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Allergies and Your Eyes

When it comes to allergies, you often think of a runny nose, sore throat, and a sinus headache. The next things that suffer are the eyes; they can become itchy, watery, red and even a bit swollen. During allergy season, which for some is all year long, the eyes are sensitive and must be taken care of.

Eye Allergy Causes

Airborne allergens are the primary cause of irritated eyes, and now that spring is here, it’s time for cleaning, gardening, and shedding. That means dust, dander, and pollen will soon fill the air, and you’ll need to avoid these or treat their effects. Indoor allergens come from dust mites, mold and pet dander. Even cigarette smoke, colognes, perfumes, and other similar substances can be irritants.

Spotting Eye Allergy Symptoms

Don’t worry you’ll know when they hit. Not only will others start sneezing and wheezing around you, but you’ll start using more tissues yourself.

Your eyes may feel dry or watery if anything is at play. They may also burn, appear red and irritated, or be overwhelmingly itchy. Beware, the more you scratch, the worse it can get. If your eyes and eyelids become swollen, you can apply something cold, like a wet rag or wrapped ice pack.

The wind may suddenly feel sensitive against your eyes, and if you start blinking, squinting, closing or wiping your eyes more, it could be time to make a move to a less irritating climate.

Treating and Avoiding Eye Allergies

The best way to avoid these insufferable eye allergies is by prevention if possible. For example, when you know it’s a day when the pollen count is high, do your best to stay indoors. Even on those beautiful days, try to keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner to help filter the air. Take the extra step of keeping a dehumidifier turned on in humid places; this helps control possible mold.

When you do have to venture out, keep the car windows up and air conditioning on. Eye protection is key. Keep your glasses or sunglasses on at all times when outside; these will act as a barrier between you and floating pollen or other airborne allergens. If you wear contacts, consider switching to disposable contacts that you can throw away at the end of each day. Contact lenses can accumulate airborne allergens on the surface, trapping irritants in your eyes. At the end of the day, dispose of the day’s collected debris and start over tomorrow. Your eyes need to breathe too.

Pet dander can float in the air, get trapped in rugs until you walk by, and even wind up in your bedding. Take the steps to wash your hands after petting any animals, and keep your sheets, comforter and pillow cases clean at all times.

Other Options for Eye Allergy Treatment and Prevention:

  • Use artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to combat the dryness and flush out the irritants, but make sure you ask your eye doctor which brand is best for you.

  • Be careful and do your best not to rub your eyes; this just adds more unnecessary bacteria and can cause infection.

  • Clean your bathrooms and kitchen regularly.

  • Dusting or sweeping is probably a bad idea, as it just mixes up the allergens, rather than eliminates them. It’s best to use a damp tool, like a rag or a mop, to get surfaces clean.

Take your allergies seriously before they take you! If they do get you, take the steps I’ve given you and check with an eye doctor for other methods.