Allergies and Your Eyes

Allergies and Your Eyes

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know all too well how frustrating they can be. The same irritants that cause your runny nose and sneezing can also cause symptoms in the eyes, such as itching, redness, swelling, and watering. This condition is called allergic conjunctivitis. In this blog, we’ll discuss the treatment options for allergic conjunctivitis. 


Allergic conjunctivitis is caused when an allergen comes into contact with the eye. This causes mast cells within the eye to release histamines, leading to an allergic reaction. Common allergens include pollen, mold, dust, dander, smoke, and fragrance. Medications and over the counter products may also trigger an allergic reaction in the eyes. 


Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:

  • Itchy eyes and/or eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light

Relieving Symptoms:

Over the Counter Eye Drops

There are a number of over the counter allergy drops that can help to relieve symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. These products contain antihistamines and mast cell blockers to combat your body’s reaction to allergens. You can also use preservative-free artificial tears to soothe discomfort. Consider putting these drops in the fridge for an additional cooling effect. 

Prescription Eye Drops

If you find that over the counter products do not provide adequate relief, talk to your Optometrist about prescription eye drops. These use similar medications to the over the counter products, but are found to be more effective. They may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or steroids for additional relief. 

Cold Compresses

Using cold compresses may give some relief to allergy sufferers. Cold will reduce blood flow and inflammation, which will in turn relieve swelling and redness. 

Oral Medications

Oral antihistamine medications may also relieve eye symptoms, although these can cause eyes to become dry, leading to worsening symptoms. They may also cause you to become drowsy.

Additional Tips:

Avoid Allergens 

The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens whenever possible. If you are allergic to pollen, check the pollen forecast to assess the risk of allergy symptoms. On days with a high pollen count, try to stay indoors. If you know you will be exposed to allergens, wear wraparound sunglasses to prevent exposure. 

Don’t Wear Contacts

Allergens can stick to the surface of contact lenses, causing recurring exposure throughout the day. When allergens are present, it is best to switch to glasses. If you are unable to wear glasses.


Please note that some symptoms of allergies may be similar to symptoms of eye infection or other eye problems. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call Mountain View Eye Center for an evaluation at (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and be sure to check our website for new posts weekly.

Written by: Gina Stafford, COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Alaska Ophthalmology, Eye Doctor in Alaska, Eye Health Guide, Eyes, Patient Education

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