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Treating Eye Allergies

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If you suffer from eye allergies you know there is nothing worse than not being able to find relief. Between the itchy eyes and swollen eyelids, you need help.
Not to worry. Below, you will find our complete list of treatment options for eye allergies.
If you suspect you have eye allergies, keep reading- this article is for you.

What Are Eye Allergies?

To start off, let’s talk about what eye allergies are. Eye allergies are caused by irritants that make your body release histamine in defense.
The medical term for eye allergies is allergic conjunctivitis, named after the conjunctiva – A mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is responsible for your allergic reactions as it is highly susceptible to allergens.
Eye allergies can come in many forms, such as:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink eye

How Are Eye Allergies Treated?

There are numerous different ways to find relief from eye allergies. However, the method of treatment is dependent on the symptoms being experienced, as well as the severity of the allergic reaction.

Prescription Medications

The strongest treatment approach, prescription medications must be prescribed by your doctor in order to receive them. They are meant to treat symptoms that are relatively severe and cannot be treated by over-the-counter eye drops.
Allergy eye drops come in many different forms. Popular methods include:

  • Decongestants reduce the size of blood vessels on the white of the eye.
  • Antihistamines block the attachment of histamine to cells in the body in order to prevent symptoms such as itchy eyes, and watery eyes.
  • Steroids are available in the form of corticosteroid eye drops that can provide relief from acute eye allergy symptoms.
  • Mast Cell Stabilizers block the release of histamine and other mediators of allergic reactions. Unfortunately, mast cell stabilizers require a few weeks before the full effects take place.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs come in the form of eyedrops that work to decrease allergic conjunctivitis symptoms.


Over-The-Counter Eye Drops

Although not as strong as prescribed eye drops, over-the-counter eye drops can provide you with relief from itchiness, redness, and watery eyes caused by allergies.
They work best for mild symptoms and are a common method of treatment as they are widely available at any pharmacy. Before purchasing a brand of over-the-counter eye drops, be sure to check the ingredients.
Chemicals and ingredients in eye drops may cause an allergic reaction that is worse compared to what you are already experiencing. As such, please make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients before use.

Removing Your Contacts

The surface of contact lenses is susceptible to a buildup of airborne allergens. With that knowledge, we recommend you try wearing only eye glasses during allergy season. If you do not notice a change in your allergy symptoms, seek another method of relief.

Avoid Your Allergens

The most obvious of all methods, try avoiding allergens that trigger your reactions. For example, during allergy season when the pollen count is high, stay indoors as much as possible.
We realize this is easier said than done. Therefore, we recommend purchasing a pair of wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from airborne allergens.

Written by Jennifer Sanchez

Dr. Jennifer Sanchez was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary and Doctor of Optometry Degree, with honours, at Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Sanchez worked alongside optometrists at American Veteran Affairs Hospitals and Indian Health Services and practiced co-management with ophthalmologists specializing in refractive and cataract surgery through a clinical externship.

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