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Eye Allergies

Eye allergies affect millions of Americans and are among the most common form of allergies.

Also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” eye allergies are commonly identified with other allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis or hay fever and atopic eczema. They are not only a cause of discomfort and distress but are also considered an actual threat to eyesight.

A person has allergic conjunctivitis if his/her eyes experience the following:

  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Mucous production

What causes eye allergies?

Eye allergies often affect the transparent layer of skin overlying the eyes, called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is made up of the same type of skin that lines the inside surface of the nose. This also means that allergens that could trigger allergic response on the eyes could most likely invoke a similar response on the skin lining the nasal passages.

Allergic conjunctivitis has two major divisions; one is seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, or SAC, and the other is called perennial allergic conjunctivitis, or PAC. Both SAC and PAC share the same allergic triggers, but the main difference is the timing of the symptoms. This means that if a person has SAC, which is seasonal, he/she generally has problems for a short period of time.

Among the common seasonal allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Weeds

On the other hand, if a person has PAC, his/her problems would likely last throughout the year.

Among the causes of PAC are indoor allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander, instead of outdoor allergens such as pollen, etc.

How are eye allergies prevented?

As in any other allergies, avoidance is necessary in the treatment of eye allergies. The best approach would be to identify the particular allergic agent and try to avoid it whenever possible.

The typical home care treatments for eye allergies include:

  • Applying cold compresses to the eyes to alleviate the allergic reaction
  • Applying lubricating eyedrops to help flush out allergens
  • Use over-the-counter medications, such as allergy eyedrops and oral antihistamines

Long-term measures to prevent eye allergies include:

  • Reducing clutter at home and at work where allergens can collect
  • Limiting pillows, bedding, draperies, mediums where dust mites can collect
  • Eliminate or minimize carpeting
  • Clean regularly and thoroughly to remove dust and mold
  • Eliminate standing water that encourage mold growth
  • Use filters and be sure to change them regularly
  • Keep outdoor allergens outdoors by keeping windows and doors closed
  • Avoid pet dander and other irritants

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