The eyes are the windows to the soul because they reflect our state of mind. This certainly can’t be true if our eyes are red, swollen, watery, and itchy from an allergic reaction. Severe allergic eye symptoms can be very distressing and are a common reason for visits to the allergist, ophthalmologist, and even the emergency room. Occasionally, severe eye allergies cause serious damage that can threaten eyesight.
Eye allergies usually are associated with other allergic conditions, particularly hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and atopic eczema (dermatitis). The causes of eye allergies are similar to those of allergic asthma and hay fever. Medications and cosmetics can play a significant role in causing eye allergies. Reactions to eye irritants and other eye conditions (for example, infections such as pinkeye) are often confused with eye allergy.
When someone with allergies comes into contact with one of his or her allergens, it provokes an overreaction of the immune system. The body may release histamines or other agents to fight the allergen, resulting in symptoms that can include sneezing, runny or itchy nose, coughing and wheezing, and itchy, red, watery eyes.
Eye allergies usually occur when your eye comes in contact with a sensitive substance. These sensitive substances are termed as allergens or ‘foreign substances which float in the air. Sometimes allergies also can occur from cosmetics, food, or medications, etc. Fortunately, eye allergies (specifically allergic conjunctivitis) don’t harm your eyes very much however, they are greatly annoying and uncomfortable because of which you might end up muddling with your day to day work.
What Causes of Eye Allergies?
Eye allergies can occur alone or along with nasal allergy symptoms like a runny, itchy nose, nasal congestion or headache. They start when the body’s immune system overreacts to something that is ordinarily harmless. When the allergen comes in contact with the eye, there’s a reaction. The allergen causes cells in the eye to release histamine and other substances that cause blood vessels in the eyes to swell and to become itchy, red and watery.
If you have seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, the most common type of eye allergy, then grass, tree and weed pollens may trigger your eye allergies. Pet hair, dust mites and molds can also trigger symptoms for some people during the year.
Types of Eye Allergies:
Eye allergies are generally categorized into two types: seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) and perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC).
The most common type of eye allergy; people affected by SAC experience symptoms during certain seasons of the year.
These types of eye allergies are usually caused by dust, pet dander or other allergens that are often present year-round.
Eye Allergy Signs And Symptoms:
Your eyes appear red because of the enlarged vessels in the surface of the white portion of the eye. This may be due to the extreme exposure of your eyes to sun or dry air & dust or other conditions. Redness in your eyes is one of the signs of eye allergy.
Itching is the most common symptom of eye allergies. It can occur due to environmental pollutants, use of cosmetics, passive cigarette smoking, or pollution caused by an industrial plant in the area.
There are several reasons for a burning sensation in the eye. It can happen due to lack of sleep, or excessive exposure to the rays emitted from a television/computer etc. This is also one of the symptoms of eye allergy.
When an allergen is inhaled, as a part of the immune response to the foreign substance, the body releases histamine and other chemicals. This results in swelling, itching, and tearing, of the eye.
Blurred vision is a result of excessive watering of the eye. The allergies cause the changes in the physiologic makeup of your tear film resulting in blurred vision. Excess mucus can also cause blurred vision.
Natural Remedies For Eye Allergies:
- Avoid exposure to the allergen. Unfortunately this is not always possible as dust and animal dander are present all year round. If pollen is the culprit, however, wearing wrap-around sunglasses can help.
- he Hay-Band applies Chinese acupuncture principles to relieve allergies without the use of drugs.
- Apply cool compresses to the eye. A weak, cooled chamomile tea can be used for this. Use a fresh compress every day to avoid infection.
- Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C, a natural antihistamine.
- Drink green tea once or twice a day – it contains natural antihistamines.
- If the cause of the allergy is pollen, try starting to eat local honey before spring starts.
- Flavonoids have antihistamine properties. They are found in fruit and vegetables such as berries, plums, citrus and broccoli.
Medical Treatment for Eye Allergies
Most people who suffer eye allergies also experience other allergic symptoms, so oral antihistamines can be useful. They are not suitable for pregnant women, and some brands can cause drowsiness.
Some eye drops lubricate the eyes to prevent irritation. Others affect the allergic process within the eye, e.g. Optrex, containing sodium cromoglycate, which stabilises the immune system mast cells to prevent an allergic reaction. In more severe cases, steroid drops can be used with a doctor’s prescription.