About The Author
Dr. Wesley Meyer
Ascension Medical Group - Fox Valley
If you’re experiencing redness, irritation and watery eyes, it must be pink eye, right? Not so fast. These are also indicators you may have an eye allergy.
Eye allergies tend to fall into one of two groups: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergies happen at certain times of the year – typically spring, summer and early fall. Common allergens include pollen and ragweed. Perennial allergies occur year round. Main causes include dust mites, pet dander, perfume and smoke.
Common symptoms include itching, redness, inflammation, burning, and a clear, watery discharge. Factors that may trigger an allergic reaction include exposure to known allergens, wearing contact lenses, a family history of eye allergies, and warmer climates.
If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Although primary care physicians are able to diagnose and treat many conditions, when it comes to your eyes, seeing a specialist is best.
One reason is because eye doctors are able to diagnose conditions using a specialized microscope. This magnification of the eye allows them to determine if a condition is viral, bacterial or an allergic reaction. Your doctor will also ask about your health history and current symptoms.
The good news is that eye allergies respond well to treatment. Over-the-counter antihistamines are usually enough to relieve symptoms. This medication often comes in the form of eye drops but you can also try oral antihistamines. Nasal sprays may also help. If over-the-counter medication is not enough, there are prescription-strength eye drops available.
There are also steps you can take to help prevent an allergic reaction:
- Close your windows and stay indoors when pollen is at its peak
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors to help protect your eyes
- Wash your bedding frequently in hot water
- Wash your hands after petting any animals
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
- Change your furnace filter on a regular basis
- Use a nasal rinse to clear your sinuses
Eye doctors can help you achieve complete health of your eyes and vision. To find an optometrist or ophthalmologist near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.