Allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) is a common problem for the 70-80 million Americans who suffer from allergies. When allergens come in contact with conjunctiva, the clear layer of skin that protects the eyes, the immune system releases histamines to fight the allergen. Conjunctiva also lines the inside of the nose, which is why most people experience the same allergy symptoms with their nose and eyes.
The two most common types of allergic conjunctivitis are seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and perennial allergic conjunctivitis. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis lasts for a short period of time when only certain pollens are being produced, such as spring (trees), summer (grass) or fall (weeds). Perennial allergic conjunctivitis lasts the entire year, due to indoor allergens such as dust mites and pet dander. Both types of allergic conjunctivitis show symptoms that include blurry vision, mucus, and watery, red, burning, itchy and dry eyes.
Eye allergies can be easily treated by an Allergist. Once an allergy test is performed, an Allergist will determine the right regimen specifically designed to treat your allergies. Immunotherapy and prescription eye drops and antihistamines may be discussed.
For temporary relief until you can get an appointment with a specialist, these few steps may help:
- Wear sunglasses outside to help keep allergens out of your eyes
- Wash pillow cases, sheets, blankets and throw rugs in hot water
- Keep windows and doors closed when the pollen count is high
- Over-the-counter eye drops
- Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
Whether you have seasonal allergies or indoor, year round allergies, it is best to consult with an Allergist. Over-the-counter eye drops and decongestants can temporarily relieve allergy symptoms, however, they can have a long term effects as well.