Allergic conjunctivitis, also known as eye allergies, is a problem for millions of Americans. It can cause swollen, puffy, red eyes. This can make you feel and look miserable during allergy season.

A quick fix to calming down the eyes is to use a cold compress. However, this is not a long-term solution. The most important thing to do is find out what you are allergic too and how to control those triggers and symptoms.

Eye allergies can happen by themselves or with nasal allergies. It can have many symptoms including:

  • Redness on the whites of your eyes and eyelids
  • Tearing
  • Itching
  • Blurry vision
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Burning
  • Sensitivity when looking at light

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when your eyes are exposed to allergens such as pollen. When these come in contact with your eye, it mistakes it for a foreign object and releases histamine – causing these symptoms.

The best thing to do when suffering from eye allergies is to leave your eyes alone. Do not rub them and try to skip the makeup and contacts (wear glasses if possible). A cool compress will also help during this time. If you need to touch your eye for any reason, make sure to wash your hands first. If you must wear makeup, try to only use a concealer that is hypoallergenic. This will keep irritation down. If you wear additional face makeup, it may draw attention to your eyes.

There are indoor and outdoor triggers to eye allergies. Trees, weeds and grasses are very common outdoor allergens. Wearing sunglasses while outdoors will help keep pollen out of your eyes. Indoor triggers include dust, pet dander and mold. If you have pets, wash your hands after petting them. If you were at someone’s house with these allergens, take your shoes off, wash your clothes and take a shower once you get home. If dust mites that flare you up, always wash your sheets in hot water, once a week. Also make sure to buy bedding that keeps mites out. Keep your humidity between 30-50% and clean your floors with a wet mop instead of sweeping with a broom. Don’t forget to clean baseboards, showers, windows and anywhere that mold grows. Also, use HEPA filters in the vents and your vacuum cleaner. This will help minimize dust mites.

Treating eye allergens can be easy once you find out what is triggering the problem. Eye drops are a great relief until you can get into the doctor. They usually have the same active ingredients used to treat nasal allergies (WebMD). Antihistamines will help stop the itching, decongestants shrink blood vessels which clears up the redness, and tear drops will clean allergens from your eyes. You can also try over-the-counter antihistamines if nasal allergies might be the culprit causing eye allergies.

If you are suffering from eye allergies, schedule an appointment with an allergist. They will test you and find out what triggers are causing the problem and how to best treat them. They may prescribe eye drops and antihistamines. Another option may be immunotherapy (allergy shots). These help build your immune system against the allergens you tested positive for. Treatment from allergy shots does not happen right away, but the medications will help relieve symptoms during the process. Your doctor may also draw up an action plan for you to prevent future problems. It’s important to know your allergens and how best to avoid them. You do not have to suffer from allergies!