We’ve all experienced watery, itchy eyes and for many of us, it’s a minor and infrequent annoyance. However, if you find yourself regularly experiencing red, swollen, itchy eyes every time you walk your dog around the neighborhood or have a family picnic at Piedmont Park you might have eye allergies.
How Common Are Eye Allergies?
Quite common. Eye allergies (or allergic conjunctivitis) are thought to affect between six and 30 percent of the general population. Additionally, 30-71 percent of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) present with symptoms of eye allergies. They often develop in late childhood and early adulthood and can be seasonal or year-round depending on your triggers, however, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is the most common form.
Symptoms of Eye Allergies
- Itchy eyes
- Eyes that are red, swollen, or stinging
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
- Watery eyes
In some cases, a severe form of eye allergy called vernal keratoconjunctivitis can develop. This is most likely to occur in late childhood or early adulthood. Symptoms include light sensitivity, blurred vision, and thick discharge from the eye. The skin around the eye may also become itchy, bumpy and red. Contact a medical professional immediately if you experience any of those symptoms.
Prevention of Eye Allergies
Depending on your triggers there are several steps you can take to try and prevent eye allergies. This includes cleaning your home regularly to reduce allergens lurking inside, removing shoes and jackets before coming indoors, keeping the windows of your home and car closed, and avoiding going outside when pollen levels are high. You can check local pollen levels easily through many weather apps.
Treatment of Eye Allergies
Depending on the severity of their eye allergies, some people find relief from symptoms with over-the-counter eye drops or antihistamines. If symptoms persist an allergist might recommend prescription eye drops, allergy testing, or allergy shots.
While in most cases eye allergies are a mild inconvenience, persistent symptoms can negatively affect your quality of life. Talking with your allergist about your symptoms is the best way to help find successful treatments for your eye allergies.
For more information about eye allergies or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, call ENT of Georgia today.