3 Things to Know About Allergies and the Eyes

April 14, 2023 |read icon 3 min read

A man and his dog hiking on a trail.

More than 50 million Americans struggle with allergies to a variety of things. Common symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing and coughing. But sometimes, people experience swollen, gritty eyes. Consider three things to know about allergies and the eyes.

1. Causes

Many people suffer from seasonal allergies to trees, weeds, bushes, flowers, mold and grass. While these allergens cause runny noses and sneezing, people also can have red, itchy eyes. Medical experts say the body considers allergies harmful threats and produces histamines to fight them. The problem is these histamines can cause the eyes to become inflamed, red, itchy and watery as well. Some people experience different allergy reactions, such as:
• Blurred vision
• Discharge or gunk in the corners of the eye
• Sensitivity to light

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2. Treatment

If you suffer from eye allergies, here are a few tips to help relieve the symptoms:
• Make a cold compress – Use cold water and wet a clean cloth. Lightly wring it out and apply it to your closed eyelids.
• Avoid scratching – When your eyes sting and burn, it’s tempting to rub them to get relief. But doing so only releases more histamines that can cause itchier eyes.
• Use eye drops – Over-the-counter eye drops may help soothe eyes affected by allergies. Follow the directions on the package.
• Contact your eye doctor – If allergy symptoms persist, call your doctor. Prescription eye drops or allergy medication may be recommended to provide relief.

3. Prevention

Allergens are everywhere, so it’s difficult to avoid them. However, there are steps you can take to manage the impact on your eyes:
• Use an air cleaner in your home and, if possible, at work.
• Remove pollens that may collect on your eyelashes and eyelids. Moisten a clean cloth with clean water and gently wipe your eyes. The cool compress also may help reduce pain and itching.
• If your eyes are irritated and you wear prescription contact lenses, avoid wearing them until symptoms improve. Instead, wear your back-up pair of eyeglasses.

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