People that suffer from seasonal allergies are often prone to suffer through bouts of red watery, burning itchy eyes. Eye allergies, also called ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, affect one in five Americans. Often the same things that cause the sneezing and runny nose also affect the mucus membranes of our eyes. Our lids can swell, our vision becomes blurry, we rub at our eyes and we reach for the antihistamines and the liquid tears for relief. Usually allergies are more of a nuisance than a vision threatening problem.
Like all allergies, eye allergies are caused by the body's immune system. The trouble starts when something comes into contact with the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes) that the body sees as a threat. In order to fight off the threat, the immune system makes antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine. It is the histamine which makes eyes red, itchy, and watery. Eye allergy symptoms can happen alone or along with nasal allergy symptoms.
There are two basic types of ocular allergies, seasonal and perennial, with seasonal being far more common. Seasonal allergies are caused by exposure to allergens in the air, be it pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, or spores from molds.
Perennial allergies are can be caused by exposure to feathers (pillows) and pet dander, and things like dust mites. Other offending substances include perfumes, smoke, air pollution, cosmetics, can also cause allergies. Medicines can also cause reactions.
What to do when you when allergies strike? Often OTC medicines can bring temporary relief, they can take the form of pills or drops. Take care not to overdo the drops, rebound hyperemia can occur with overuse. the overuse in a small population of patients can can a serious problem called angle closure glaucoma.
Wearing contacts during allergy season: You can wear contacts when you are suffering from seasonal allergies. However, you tear film is disrupted and your eyes are irritated so often contacts are uncomfortable at best. Often, your vision will be less that perfect. Never wear your contacts while you are taking any eye drops.
The eyes can only react with a limited number of symptoms. They can turn red, they can itch, they can burn and be sore, they can water and they can discharge mucus. As with any "red" and irritated eye, it is always best to consult your optometrist before beginning a treatment. What may seem like a simple allergy, may be hiding something much more serious!
Call Texas State Optical in Magnolia at (817) 645-7733 to arrange your allergy eye exam.