Eye Allergies

If you are one of the millions of people who are affected by allergies, this list of symptoms should be familiar:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Itchy, burning and watery eyes
  • Red, weepy, burning eyes that are often a result of exposure to an allergen.

Eye allergies are very irritating and happen to majority of people. Here’s some helpful information on these inconvenient seasonal ailments:

Know Your Enemy

Eye allergy (more formally called ocular allergy) affects the thin tissue (known as the conjunctiva) that covers the white part of the eye as well as the insides of the eye lids. This tissue acts as a barrier to protect your eyes from invading particles, microbes and other debris. Another player in ocular allergies is the tear gland. Tears aren’t simply made up of water – they actually contain important immune defense substances, like immunoglobulin (antibodies), lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells) and enzymes. When airborne allergens collide with your eyes, an allergic reaction is kicked off in the conjunctiva which causes itching and burning, red color and swelling.

Once the eye is irritated by contact with pollen, pet dander, or some other allergy trigger. Your tear glands flush the offensive allergen from the eyes, but this attempt to flush irritants out of the eye is what causes your eyes to flood with tears. The effort your immune system makes to combat allergies is the primary cause of your discomfort.

Eye allergies are actually the same as any other type of allergies. The tissues that make up the allergy-sensitive areas of your eyes are very similar to the tissues in your nose and throat. Eye allergies often co-exist with other allergic conditions like hay fever (nasal allergies) and even eczema (skin allergies). The biggest difference between eye allergies and any other type of allergy is the way that the allergen comes in contact with you.

Airborne allergens can enter the eyes by simply walking into an area where the source of the allergen is located.

Another common way for allergens to enter your eyes is by simply rubbing or touching the area around your eyes with your hands. Sometimes rubbing your eyes after they start burning just helps to spread more allergens to the area.

Nasal allergies are almost always triggered by inhaling airborne allergens like pollen or animal dander. People with allergic eyes often have a strong family or personal history of allergies– and most likely are going to experience eye allergy symptoms before the age of 30.

Two common types of eye allergies:

  • Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC)
  • Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC)

The main difference between these two common forms of ocular allergy is their timing.

You have Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC) if you:

  • Usually have symptoms for a short period of time.
  • Are bothered by the spring tree pollen, or in the summer by grass pollen, or in the fall by weed pollen.
  • Have period during the year where your symptoms completely disappear – usually this occurs in the winter.

You have Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC) if you:

  • Have symptoms that last throughout the year.
  • Are bothered by indoor allergens like dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander
  • Find that seasonal outdoor allergies worsen your eye allergies if you are sensitive to them as well.

Here Are Some Common Allergen Triggers for Eyes:

  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Weeds
  • Dust
  • Pet hair or dander
  • Certain medicine or cosmetics

Some elements that irritate eyes but are not considered allergens:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume
  • Diesel Exhaust

Symptoms of Eye Allergies:

  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Mattering and/or mucous production
  • Swelling of the eye

When Should You Seek Medical Care?

Some people find that it is easy to pinpoint the exact cause of their allergies and avoid the triggers completely (i.e. if allergic to pets, refraining from petting them or keeping no pets yourself). But, if you are unable to indentify the source of your reactions – or simply cannot avoid contact, you should see an eye doctor in winter park (a doctor who specializes in conditions and care of the eyes).

If you have SAC, you may want to make an appointment with your eye doctor in winter park before the season when your eye allergies flare up. This way, you can start some sort of treatment or prevention program before you begin feeling symptoms.

If you have PAC, you may want to routinely have appointments with your eye doctor in winter park to make sure that your eye allergies are being monitored. Occasional flare-ups will make it necessary to keep your eye doctor up to date with your condition. You may also want to consult an allergist (a doctor who specializes in allergic diseases, like nasal allergies and allergic asthma).

When Should You Seek Medical Care?

Some people find that it is easy to pinpoint the exact cause of their allergies and avoid the triggers completely (i.e. if allergic to pets, refraining from petting them or keeping no pets yourself). But, if you are unable to identify the source of your reactions – or simply cannot avoid contact, you should see an eye doctor.

If you have SAC, you may want to make an appointment with your eye doctor in winter park before the season when your eye allergies flare up. This way, you can start some sort of treatment or prevention program before you begin feeling symptoms.

If you have PAC, you may want to routinely have appointments with your eye doctor in winter park to make sure that your eye allergies are being monitored. Occasional flare-ups will make it necessary to keep your eye doctor up to date with your condition. You may also want to consult an allergist (a doctor who specializes in allergic diseases, like nasal allergies and allergic asthma).

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