Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system is triggered by harmless substances. They result in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous. Mild allergies like hay fever, mold, pollen and pet dander are very common and generally cause symptoms such as red eyes, itchiness, runny nose, eczema, hives or asthma. Eye allergy or ocular allergy simply refers to a situation whereby an allergy affects the eye tissue. The eyes are usually affected by airborne allergens, like the ones mentioned above. A small portion of the population is also allergic to some contact lens solutions, which can cause discomfort, poor vision and decreased wearing time.
Mild eye allergies can be treated at home. A cool compress can alleviate itchy eyes, and cucumber slices are known to reduce swelling. Whatever you do, don’t rub your eyes. It releases more histamine and makes the irritation worse, plus your hands can introduce germs into the eye tissue, which is extra vulnerable when it is inflamed with eye allergies.
If home treatment is not enough to manage eye allergy symptoms, speak to your eye doctor. We can recommend effective eye drops. Although you may be able to get eye drops over the counter to reduce redness, it’s a good idea to check with your optometrist first, because they don’t necessarily address the underlying problem, and some of them contain irritating chemicals. Sometimes we discover that the real problem is not an eye allergy at all, but a different condition with similar symptoms, like dry eye syndrome.