How To NOT Let Eye Allergies Ruin Your Day
Don’t let eye allergies ruin your day or fun. Spring to fall is the best time of the year for sure! The dark and cold days of winter are gone. It’s time to hang out with your friends and relish the eternal rays of sunshine. Whether you are just going for a walk or lunching with a buddy outdoors, all the good stuff starts to happen in spring.
For many Americans, this is also the beginning of allergy season. Which is why many people are not comfortable during this time. Just as you are ready to have some fun, your nose starts to run and you start sneezing. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, your eyes get puffy, red, and watery, just as you are about to enjoy your Hawaiian mimosa.
Allergic reactions can feel very uncomfortable and it can happen anywhere in the body, including your eyes. Like any allergic reaction, eye allergies vary in severity from person to person. For many, it manifests like there is a foreign substance in the eye. For most people, the common eye allergy symptoms are itching, redness, burning and clear watery discharge.
There are several types of eye allergies. Seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis is the most common. The others are, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, contact allergic conjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis. Sounds like a foreign language doesn’t it?
The triggers (Eye Allergies Ruin Day)
So, what triggers eye allergies?
As we know, pollens, grass, trees and weeds can cause a reaction. These are outdoor allergens.
There are also irritants that cause reactions. Examples are chlorinated pool water, perfume and tobacco smoke.
Then we have what’s called, indoor allergens. Some examples are as follows, dust mites, dog dander, house dust and mold spores.
Science behind eye allergy
Let’s look a little into the biological reasons for eye allergies. This is when your immune system has an exaggerated reaction to an allergen in the environment. This happens when the allergens come in contact with the antibodies in the mast cells of your eyes. This leads to the production of histamines which in turn causes tiny blood vessels to leak. That is when symptoms like itchy, red, watery eyes happen.
Read more on Are Your Itchy Eyes Caused by Allergies?
Seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis
The most common type of eye allergy is Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) occurring between spring to fall. In addition to the typical symptoms, this type of reaction can leave dark circles under the eyes. SAC is generally accompanied with seasonal allergies.
Household allergens cause perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC). This can happen all year long and tend to be milder than SAC.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is common in boys and young men. It is more serious and is often accompanied by eczema or asthma. This can happen year long. It causes symptoms such as the feeling of a foreign substance in the eye, aversion to light, a lot of tearing and production of mucus, as well as itching. It must be treated or will cause vision impairment.
This is more common in older patients generally men that have a history of allergic dermatitis. This can happen all year long, and the symptoms include severe burning, itching, redness, production of thick mucus that cause the eyes to stick together.
Contact allergic conjunctivitis
This is an allergic reaction due to contact lenses. The symptoms include redness, itching, mucous discharge, lens discomfort.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis
This is also caused by contact lenses but it’s a more serious form. This is when individual sacs form in the upper lining of the inner eyelid. The symptoms of this are itching, puffiness, tearing, mucous discharge, blurred vision, poor tolerance for wearing contact lenses and a foreign substance sensation.
All these might sound a little overwhelming but the great news is they can be treated and managed, so you can enjoy your life with comfort.
When you are trying to treat seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis, the first most important thing you need to do is avoid allergens. Try to avoid going outside when pollens are at their peak. Although it’s tempting, avoid touching your eyes, it makes things worse. Wear sunglasses or eye protection when you do have to go outside.
When indoors, keep the windows closed and make sure the Air condition is clean. Try to reduce dust mites with mite proof bed covering. Don’t forget to wash all your bed coverings well.
Regular cleaning is a must for everyone but more so if you have allergies. Use mop or something damp to clean with.Also, maintain the humidity in the house and buy a dehumidifier.
If pets cause you to have eye allergies, maybe they are best kept outdoors whenever possible. Wash your hands everytime you deal with your furry friends.
There are also over the counter treatments
Artificial tears are great to use as they can lubricate the eyes and temporarily wash away allergens.
Decongestant and antihistamine drops can be helpful especially in reducing the redness of the eyes. However they must be used with great caution. Decongestants drops are contraindicated in patients with glaucoma.
Oral antihistamines are not highly recommended. They are not that helpful for eye allergies. Infact, sometimes they can cause unwanted side effects.
Don’t Let Eye Allergies Ruin Day Use Prescription treatment
There are a variety of prescription drops and oral medications that could be used for eye allergies. Your eye care professional will prescribe the ones best suited for you. Here are a few categories.
Corticosteroid eye drops are used for more serious symptoms of itching, redness and swelling. Their preferred use is short term as long term use could cause more damage.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drops are useful to reduce itching. However, they can cause some uncomfortable side effects like burning and itching.
Antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer eye drops can be used separately or together. Mast cell stabilizers can stop the release of antihistamines. For the most effective use, put it in before exposure to an allergen. Antihistamines provide great relief but only for a short period of time. Together antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer make a great team and give good relief.
Allergy shots are given over a period of time, usually over a three to five years period. They are a form of treatment called immunotherapy. They actually contain a tiny amount of allergen, when injected stimulates your immune system. But it doesn’t cause a full blown reaction. This process is called desensitization. The goal is over a period of time your body builds up tolerance to the allergens.
Even though eye allergies are an inconvenience in life, the good news is they are manageable. You can enjoy your Hawaiian mimosa without having to worry about tearing up.