Eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis happen when your eyes have a reaction to something that irritates them (an allergen). The eyes produce histamine to fight off the allergen,which results in red, swollen, and itchy eyelids.
Most common symptoms of eye allergies are red, itchy, and swollen eyes, sensitivity to light, and burning or tearing of the eyes. Allergens that cause eye allergies are dust, pet dander, mold, smoke, and pollen from grass, trees, and ragweed.
Here are 6 ways to treat eye allergies with eye drops or medicine:
1. Artificial tears: Artificial tears relieve eye allergies by washing off allergens from the eye. They also keep dry, irritated eyes moisturized. You don’t need a prescription for artificial tears and can use them up to 6 times a day. If they are preservative-free, you can use them as often as needed.
2. Decongestants (with or without antihistamines): Decongestants reduce eye redness from allergies. If the decongestant eye drops also include an antihistamine, they can help reduce itchiness. Decongestant eye drops with antihistamines should not be used longer than 2-3 days as long-term use can actually exacerbate irritating symptoms.
3. Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines may be helpful in treating itchy eyes but they can also make eyes drier and worsen allergy symptoms.
4. Antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizers: You can use eye drops with antihistamine to help relieve itchy eyes and a mast-cell stabilizer to help prevent eye allergies. When used once or twice a day, they can help relieve tearing, burning, itching, and redness
5. Corticosteroids: Steroid eye drops can be used to treat severe and chronic eye allergy symptoms such as redness, swelling, and itching. Medical supervision is advised while using these products as they may pose serious side effects.
6. Immunotherapy shots: Immunotherapy shots may be an option if eye allergy symptoms are not relieved by allergen avoidance, eye drops, or medicine. With immunotherapy, you get shots with small amounts of allergen. Over time, the dose is increased to help your body build immunity to the allergens.
To learn more on ocular allergy, click HERE.
*Adapted from AAO.org