Allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases experienced, reportedly affecting nearly 50 million Americans. Both the incidence and prevalence of eye specific allergies is on the rise, as up to 40% of the population when surveyed stated they had experienced at least 1 episode of eye allergies within the past year. At the simplest level, an allergic reaction in the eye follows the same pathway as an allergic reaction that takes place at any other location in the body. Airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold, or dust can come in contact with the surface of the eye. This results in common symptoms like:
- Red eyes
- Swollen or puffy appearing eyes
- Burning sensations
- Itchy eyes
- Watery discharge
- Frequent tearing
- Eye irritation and discomfort
Eye allergies may appear in isolation, or they may be accompanied by other typical allergy related symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffy nose (nasal congestion), sneezing, coughing, or a sore throat. Eye allergies are also very common in individuals suffering from allergic rhinitis, hay fever, eczema, or asthma. Eye allergies can also appear in combination with dry eye disease, and if both are present, they exacerbate one another into a debilitating state of discomfort and irritation.
Allergic eye symptoms are generally more pronounced during the late spring or fall, but often may last throughout the summer. This typically is because that is the time of year that the pollen count outdoors is highest. Try to find what “triggers” your allergic reactions, and then do your best to avoid it if possible.
The goal in treating eye allergies is to provide relief of your symptoms. There are specific anti-histamine eye drops that are fast acting, and work effectively to alleviate your discomfort. If you suffer from allergies, set up an appointment so we can discuss how you may benefit from a prescription eye drop to combat your allergies this season.