6 Ways Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Eyes
When people think of seasonal allergies, they usually think of sneezing or perhaps coughing, but may not realize that allergies can also affect the eyes. Seasonal outdoor allergens such as pollen and ragweed, as well as indoor allergens such as pet dander and dust mites, can all cause the eyes to become irritated, itchy, or swollen. Here is a closer look at the ways seasonal allergies can affect the eyes.
- Red eyes
If your eyes are red or irritated, or the whites have a pink tint, you may wonder if it’s allergies or an infection. In fact, when it’s caused by an allergen and not a bacteria or virus, this sign is common in people with seasonal allergies. Dust or pollen can cause eyes to look red or irritated, due to an immune reaction to the specific substances that trigger it.
- Itchy eyes
Most people experience itchy eyes once in a while. Itchy eyes, known in medical jargon as “ocular pruritis,” have many causes, but one of the main causes is allergies. Irritating substances trigger the release of histamines in the tissues of the eyes, leading to itching and other symptoms.
- Watery, tearing eyes
Like other symptoms on this list, watery eyes have a variety of causes including blocked tear ducts, dry eyes, a foreign object in the eye, and infection. However, allergies a likely culprit as well. This symptom may clear up on its own, or it may require medical treatment.
- Swollen eyelids
Swollen eyelids are another clue that you may have seasonal allergies. Eyelids can swell in response to inflammation or excess fluid in the surrounding tissues. You may notice that both the upper and lower eyelids are swollen, and it may or may not be painful. Allergies are a common cause, but there are other, more serious possibilities, so this should be evaluated by your eye care practitioner.
- Sore, burning, or painful eyes
Eye pain or burning can be the simple result of other allergic conjunctivitis symptoms, but it can also signify something else, such as pink eye or other infections, abrasions, foreign bodies in the eye, inflammation, or sinusitis. However, when caused by allergies, pain can go hand-in-hand with irritation, and should subside when the other symptoms are treated.
- Light-sensitive eyes
Sensitivity to light is known as photophobia. You may notice that when you go outside, it’s difficult to keep your eyes open in the bright sunlight, or that even indoor lights cause discomfort. Light sensitivity is often caused by allergies but can also be the result of other eye conditions as well.
Treatment for eye symptoms caused by seasonal allergies
If you are experiencing eye itching, burning, redness, watering, or other symptoms of seasonal allergies, the first step is to see your local eye doctor to make sure that’s really what’s going on. If you determine that allergies are to blame, there are several treatments to try, including keeping windows closed during periods when pollen levels are high, wearing sunglasses when outdoors to protect your eyes from irritants, using allergy-relief eye drops, over-the-counter antihistamines, and even allergy shots.
You can discuss these and other options with your Weston Contact Lens Institute eye care professional. At WCLI, we offer a range of services including comprehensive eye exams for adults and children, contact lenses, our special dry eye treatments, myopia management, emergency eye care, and more. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.