Allergies and the Eyes
Approximately 22 million people in the US suffer from seasonal itchy, swollen, red eyes. Airborne allergens, such as house dust, animal dander and mold constantly bombard the eyes and can cause ocular allergies at any time. But when spring rolls around and the plant pollen starts flying, it seems like everyone starts crying.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, or hay fever, is the most common allergic eye problem. Various antihistamine and decongestant drops and sprays can soothe irritated eyes and nose.
Make every effort to avoid allergens. An allergist can help determine what you are allergic to so you can stay away from it. Staying away from outdoor pollen may be impossible, but remaining indoors in the morning when the outdoor pollen levels are highest may help control symptoms. If you are allergic to house dust, open windows and keep household filters clean.
Cool compresses decrease swelling and itching. Artificial tears dilute the allergens and form a protective barrier over the surface of the eye. Avoid rubbing the eyes. It makes the symptoms worse.
If seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is a problem, see an ophthalmologist. There are several new safe and effective anti-allergy drops that can be prescribed. An ophthalmologist can also make sure symptoms are not being caused by a more serious problem.
Courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Reprinted from Patient Education CD Personal Eyes and Ophthalmic Images, with permission of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Users of this website may reproduce one (1) copy of this for their own personal, noncommercial use. All Internet, web or electronic posting or transmission is not permitted.