Spring is a beautiful time of year, but for some people, it can be a season of misery. Itchy, watery, and painful eyes are common symptoms of seasonal allergies that can make the prettiest time of year the most dreadful. The good news is that relief is possible, and in this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for ocular allergies.
Symptoms of Ocular Allergies
If your eyes overreact when pollen starts falling, you probably suffer from a condition called allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergy. The symptoms of ocular allergies include redness, itchiness, watery eyes, and pain. These symptoms occur when the immune system identifies a substance in the air, such as pollen or mold spores, as a threat and produces Immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies to combat it. These antibodies cause an allergic reaction, leading to inflammation in the conjunctiva, which covers the eyes and eyelids.
Causes of Ocular Allergies
Seasonal allergens are the most common cause of conjunctivitis. Pollen and mold spores can quickly trigger the immune system to set off the production of Immunoglobulin. This is especially true when the pollen count is high on certain days.
Treatment Options for Ocular Allergies
Ocular allergies pose no threat to your eyesight and they are not contagious. However, they can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life. Blurry vision and constant rubbing of the eyes can interfere with work and outdoor activities. To alleviate these symptoms, an optometrist may recommend artificial tears, decongestants, antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots.
- Artificial Tears – Artificial tear drops can help wash the allergens out of the eye, which can reduce irritation. Eye drops can be used several times a day as needed for relief.
- Decongestants – Some eye drops contain decongestants and antihistamines, which can provide more relief than artificial tears do. These eye drops are a form of medication, so they should only be used for two to three days, and they should not be used for a long time. It’s best to speak to an optometrist about the length of time you should use them.
- Oral Antihistamines – Allergy medications that contain antihistamines can help relieve eye allergies, as well as sinus congestion.
- Corticosteroids – These prescription eye drops can help people who have severe ocular allergic reactions. They are effective in reducing redness, swelling, and itching.
- Allergy Shots – For people who struggle with allergic reactions regularly throughout the year, allergy shots may be a consideration. These shots, also called immunotherapy, have a small amount of the allergen in them. As your body is exposed to the allergen with the shots, your body becomes immune to it. Over time, you will notice your eyes won’t react to seasonal allergens anymore.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are experiencing symptoms of ocular allergies, it’s important to make an appointment with an optometrist for a thorough eye exam. The optometrist will ask about your symptoms and may request an allergy test to confirm the cause of the irritation. Treatment options will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause. If you’re suffering from eye allergies, contact Curtis R. Anderson, O.D. for an appointment. Our staff can help relieve the discomfort you’re feeling, so you can fully enjoy the beautiful spring season!