Eye Allergies: Management and Treatment
If red, itchy, or watery eyes are a source of chronic discomfort, you may be suffering from mild to severe eye allergies. The consequences of eye allergies can wreak havoc on your daily quality of life, with the resulting vision impairment ranging anywhere from inconvenient at best to life-threatening at worst. Think of the impeded workflow and loss of productivity in the office, to the dangers of driving home during rush hour with itchy, watery eyes.
Eye allergies share symptoms with several serious medical conditions, making a definitive diagnosis imperative to rule out other eye diseases. With eye allergy testing and diagnosis from an experienced specialist like Dr. Mayank Shukla, you can develop a specialized treatment plan to immensely improve your quality of life today.
What are Eye Allergies?
Allergies occur when your body develops a sensitivity to a specific substance – the allergen – triggering an overreaction in the immune system. An allergic reaction is triggered when the allergen encounters the antibodies surrounding the mast cells in the eyes, which then release histamine. The result is intense irritation: the red, swollen, itchy and watery eyes associated with allergies.
It is common for people who suffer from eye allergy symptoms to experience nasal allergies, as well.
Eye Allergy Symptoms
Eye allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe discomfort and vision impairment, depending on the specific type of allergy you are suffering from. Symptoms can include:
- Clear, watery discharge
- Impaired vision
- Eyelid swelling
- The sensation of something being lodged in the eye
- Thick mucus in the eyes, which may cause the eyelids to stick together after sleeping
- Scarring of the cornea
- Aversion to light
- Dark circles
More severe symptoms leading to significant vision impairment will require immediate medical attention from a trusted specialist in order to avoid harm or permanent eye damage.
Eye Allergy Triggers
- Outdoor allergens: Pollen, certain mold spores, and other airborne allergens are significant sources of irritation for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
- Indoor allergens: Indoor allergens such as dust, mites, pet dander, and mold tend to plague eye allergy sufferers all year-round.
- Airborne pollutants: This can include chemical fumes, smoke, and perfume.
- Cosmetics: Eyewear such as eyeliner, eye shadow, or mascara.
- Eye drops
- Contact lenses and solution
Types of Eye Allergies
The type of eye allergy you suffer from will determine the recurrence and severity of your allergy symptoms:
- Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis: The most common type of eye allergy, patients with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis experience the worst symptoms during specific seasons (Spring, Summer, or Fall) depending on the kinds of pollen present in the air at the time.
- Perennial allergic conjunctivitis: This type of eye allergy plagues its sufferers all year-round. Instead of pollen, patients with this type of allergy tend to react to household allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold.
- Vernal keratoconjunctivitis: A more serious eye allergy, patients with vernal keratoconjunctivitis experience tearing and thick mucus in the eyes, as well as the sensation of an object being lodged in the eye. Without treatment, this type of allergy can lead to vision impairment.
- Atopic keratoconjunctivitis: This eye allergy disproportionately affects older men with allergic dermatitis, and can result in the production of mucus so thick that it causes the eyelids to stick together after sleeping.
- Contact allergic conjunctivitis: Like its name suggests, this allergy is the result of irritation caused by wearing contact lenses.
- Giant papillary conjunctivitis: A more serious case of contact allergic conjunctivitis, this allergy causes fluid sacs (papules) to develop in the inner eyelid.
Determining the exact cause of your eye allergies will allow you to pursue a more specialized treatment plan to manage your allergy symptoms within your daily life.
Eye Allergy Diagnosis
The only way to definitively diagnose your eye allergy is to consult an experienced professional like Dr. Shukla. From there, your doctor may perform a series of exams for proper diagnosis:
- A microscope examination to detect swollen or burst blood vessels in the eye.
- Testing for white blood cells in affected areas of the eye.
- Allergy testing, which involves controlled exposure to suspected allergens and assessing your body’s reaction.
Once the source of your allergies is accurately diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe a variety of medications to help control your allergy symptoms. Your allergy relief regimen may include the use of:
- Eye drops
- Mast cell stabilizers
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
Managing Allergy Symptoms
In addition to prescription medication, consider these at-home tips for managing your allergy symptoms in your daily life:
- Avoid the allergen: Once you know the source of your allergy symptoms (pollen, mold, smoke, contact lenses, etc.), it will be easier for you to avoid the allergen to prevent a reaction. This means closing windows and staying indoors during times of high pollen, or staying clear of areas that are likely to contain mold.
- Wear glasses to protect the eyes from exposure to airborne allergens.
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter to rid the house of allergen particles.
- Use an air purifier in the home.
- Use over-the-counter eye drops to flush out allergens regularly – however, proceed with caution as eye drops can occasionally worsen or be the cause of an allergic reaction.
- Avoid touching the eyes.
- Keep windows closed, and clean vents and AC systems routinely.
- Wash bedding regularly to avoid dust-mite buildup.
- Clean the bathroom thoroughly and use a dehumidifier to avoid the growth of mold in the home.
- Mop the floors, rather than sweeping them, in order to more effectively pickup allergens and debris.
Find Allergy Relief with Dr. Shukla
If you suffer from chronic eye allergy symptoms, schedule a consultation with reputed pulmonologist Dr. Mayank Shukla today. With over 15 years of experience treating adults and children with allergies and asthma, with an outstanding record of patient satisfaction to prove it, Dr. Mayank Shukla and his caring staff at the Asthma Allergy Sleep Center of New York will keep your allergy symptoms under control.