How to treat eye allergies

POSTED: 12:15 PM Nov 19 2012   UPDATED: 10:50 AM Dec 04 2012
Senior's eye

By Barbara Floria, Pure Matters

Eye allergies affect more than seven in 10 people with allergies. Although not contagious, this type of eye problem can cause discomfort and aggravation to sufferers.

An eye allergy can be seasonal when caused by pollens at a certain time of year, or year-round when caused by pets, feathers, perfumes, or eye makeup.

Eye allergies are usually, but not always, associated with other allergic conditions, particularly hay fever and eczema, says Joseph A. Eviatar, M.D., FACS, an eye surgeon in New York City. "But you don't need to suffer with them. Medical and self-care treatments can provide relief."

Symptoms

Eye allergies usually affect both eyes. The main symptoms of an eye allergy (also called allergic conjunctivitis) include itchy eyes, increased tearing, red or pink eyes, and mild swelling of the eyelids.

"If the eye is sticky in the morning, it's probably a bacterial infection," says Dr. Eviatar. "If the eye burns, it's likely dry eye. If the eye itches, the problem is probably allergies, especially if the lower lid is more affected than the upper lid. Constant rubbing of the eyes often accompanies untreated allergies and can lead to more serious skin irritations."

Sometimes an eye infection can develop in addition to the eye allergy. This occurs when bacteria on your fingers or hands enter your eyes after scratching or rubbing them.

Self-care

Home treatment often can provide relief from allergy-related discomfort. Try the following:

Get help

If the problem persists after two days of self-care, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible. The doctor may prescribe one of the following: