A change in season often brings with it a host of illnesses and allergies. Eye allergies, in particular, are very common in early summer and fall. Figures say that about 40 percent of the US population suffers from an eye allergy and every person has some or the other type of eye allergy at least once in their lifetime. [1]

While eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies, are a common problem in the American population, most affected people seek treatment for a runny nose or nasal congestion when they have one.

Two of the most common eye allergies that are seen in patients are allergic conjunctivitis, also known as AC, and dry eye syndrome, also known as DES. [2]

  1. Allergic Conjunctivitis: Your eyes are constantly exposed to outside substances, such as mold or pollen, and frequent contact with them can sometimes make your eyes, water, itchy, red and inflamed. Some very common allergens for allergic conjunctivitis are scents such as perfumes or detergents, pollen from grass and weeds, house dust, and animal dander. They are also known as seasonal allergies and happen usually in the early spring through summer or during autumn.
  2. Dry Eye Syndrome: Dry eye syndrome, as the name almost suggests, is a condition in which the film of tears in your eyes evaporates, because of which your eyes become extremely dry, causing an inflammation. Your tears are made up of a mix of proteins, fatty acids, water and electrolytes that keep bacteria away. Sometimes, if this mix is not right, it can also give you dry eyes.

Common Signs And Symptoms
Here are the common signs and symptoms that are triggered by an eye allergy:

  • Itching in the eyes or eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Redness and irritation in the eyes or eyelids
  • Pain, burning sensation, or soreness in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Runny nose

Taking Care
Here are a few treatment options that you can consider, but only after you’ve spoken with your doctor.

  1. Antihistamine Pills Or Drops: An antihistamine pill or eye drop will help counter the allergy and reduce the itching and symptoms. Some popular drugs that your doctor may suggest are Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec and even Benadryl, but speak to your doctor first to understand what will work best for you, as well as the dosage.
  2. Allergy Shots: If you have recurrent eye allergies, your doctor may prescribe taking an allergy shot. This is because when you take antihistamines over a long period of time, your body develops immunity to them and the medication does not work anymore.
  3. Say No To Contact Lenses: Remove your contact lenses immediately and switch to your glasses instead in case you have an allergy. Also, make sure you discard tho used lenses as chances are they might be contaminated. Take proper care of your lenses by cleaning them with a proper cleaning solution each day and don’t wear them for long stretches.
  4. Do Not Rub Your Eyes: Itching in the eyes is one of the most common and uncomfortable symptoms of an eye allergy, but do not rub your eyes a lot, as it will only make it worse.
  5. Rinse Your Eyes: It might sting when you apply water to your eyes but rinse your eyes with clean, cold water every now and then to keep them clean.
  6. Wear Sunglasses: If you have an allergy, wear sunglasses while going out so that you do not expose your eyes to bright sunlight and also to keep any allergens out of your eyes.

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1. The epidemiology of ocular and nasal allergy in the United States, 1988-1994. 1: Singh K, Axelrod S, Bielory L. The epidemiology of ocular and nasal allergy in the United States, 1988-1994. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Oct;126(4):778-783.e6.doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.06.050. PubMed PMID: 20920769. (Accessed 21 Oct 2015)

2. Allergic conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome. 1: Hom MM, Nguyen AL, Bielory L. Allergic conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012 Mar;108(3):163-6. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2012.01.006. PubMed PMID: 22374198. (Accessed 21 Oct 2015)