Eye allergies are one of the most common disorders affecting up to 25% of people worldwide. They can be caused by a number of factors including your environment, skin conditions and even your contact lenses. And while most types of eye allergies are relatively harmless (albeit annoying and frustrating to deal with), there are some forms that can cause serious damage to your vision. There are many different types of eye allergies, and if you suspect you may have eye allergies, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to accurately diagnose and treat the specific type.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common form of eye allergy. It’s caused by an allergic reaction to an airborne irritant like pollen or animal dander. Symptoms are mild, but can be bothersome and include itchiness, redness, watery discharge, inflamed or puffy eyelids, and can occur alongside other symptoms like a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be grouped into 2 types:

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (hay fever) is associated with allergies that occur specifically during a season such as spring and summer, and sometimes fall. Allergies can be triggered by pollen, grass, smoke and other outdoor airborne allergens.

Perennial allergic conjunctivitis persists throughout the year and is generally triggered by indoor airborne allergens like animal dander, lint, dust and mold spores.

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a chronic, seasonal allergic disorder that generally occurs during the spring or warm weather. Like seasonal allergies, vernal conjunctivitis is triggered by outdoor airborne allergens. However, VKC is caused by hypersensitivity to these allergens, resulting in itchiness, sensitivity to light, redness, inflammation inside the eyelid, the formation of papillae and stringy or mucous discharge.

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is another chronic allergic disorder that affects persons with the skin condition, atopic dermatitis (eczema). Symptoms generally include itchiness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, inflammation inside the eyelid, stringy or mucous discharge and thickened, crusty or fissured eyelids. Unlike other eye allergies, AKC can cause serious complications like cataracts and retinal detachment.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is an inflammatory disorder that occurs generally in persons who wear contact eyes. However, it has also occurred in individuals with artificial eyes or stitches in the eye. GPS can be caused by a few things including an allergy to your contact lens or the products you use to clean them, improperly cleaned lenses, exposed stitches, or excessive friction caused by your lenses rubbing against the inside of your eyelid. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, blurred vision, stringy or mucous discharge and inflammation inside the eyelid.

Diagnosing Eye Allergies

If you suspect you have eye allergies, reach out to an allergy specialist or your eye doctor as soon as possible. A licensed eye care specialist can determine whether or not you have eye allergies using a variety of tests and procedures. During one of our comprehensive eye exams, your eye doctor may look for swollen blood vessels on the surface of your eyes or test your eyes’ white blood cell count. Your results will then determine the severity of your condition and the treatment options available to you.

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Eye Allergy Treatment Options

At NeoVision Eye Center, we offer many different treatment options for eye allergy relief depending on the severity of your condition and/or your symptoms. Each has its own benefits and unique applications so one type is sure to suit your individual situation better than another.

Eliminate the source of the allergy or irritant

Check the ingredients of cleaning supplies for any known allergens if you suspect your contact lenses cleaning supplies could be the culprit. If you have pets, try to keep them outside as much as possible or at least keep them out of your bedroom. Regularly clean your air filters and purchase additional air purifiers to keep indoor spaces free of dust, dander and pollen. Clean hard and soft surfaces frequently.

Adopt new habits

If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid going outside as much as possible when pollen counts are highest or on windy days. Use glasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes. Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes which will only worsen symptoms.

Prescription or over-the-counter medication

Your eye doctor may prescribe or suggest decongestants, antihistamines, corticosteroids and/or immunotherapy shots. The severity of your symptoms will determine whether you need prescription medication or if over-the-counter alternatives will suffice. Only your doctor can determine which treatment options work best for you.

Prescription eye drops or ointments

Your ophthalmologist or optometrist may suggest the use of artificial tear solutions or nighttime ointments to relieve persistent eye allergy irritation. They may also prescribe you medical-grade eyedrops if your case is more severe than OTC eyedrops can address.

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