Relief For Eye Allergies & Itchy Eyes Caused By Seasonal Allergies
It’s that time of year. The dreary gray of winter is fading and beautiful colors of spring are alive. The flowers and trees are waking up and preparing to burst forth in all their spring glory. However, if you are among the more than 50 million seasonal allergy sufferers, you may be a bit apprehensive about the onset of spring every year. In this article we will discuss the best eye allergy drops for seasonal eye allergies.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Eye allergies occur when the eye comes into contact with an irritant, also known as an allergen. For some people, these allergens trigger an immune system response because their body has decided that this particular irritant is dangerous. This immune response creates the release of a substance known as histamine to fight the allergen. Unfortunately, histamine causes a number of other reactions in the body including itchy burning eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itching in the throat, mouth, and even the ears.
While this condition is temporary and rarely fatal, it is very uncomfortable and can cause significant disruption to quality of life. There are a number of causes of allergy symptoms such as pet dander, smoke, and perfumes, but in the spring season it is often the pollen production that causes millions of people such misery.
Is It Pink Eye Or Allergies?
Before we talk about the treatment of eye allergies, let’s talk more about eye allergy symptoms and how to know whether you are suffering from what is known as allergic conjunctivitis or another form of conjunctivitis such as the viral conjunctivitis commonly known as pink eye.
The most common symptoms of eye allergies are
- itchy burning eyes
- puffy watery eyes
- eye pain
- sensitivity to light
As you can see, however, these symptoms are similar to many other types of eye conditions such as pink eye or other types of eye infections. How can you know whether you have eye allergies or an infection? Generally, eye allergies will be accompanied by nasal allergies as well which would include runny nose and sneezing. Eye allergies also usually occur in both eyes. A viral conjunctivitis (or eye infection) can be isolated to just one eye and generally won’t include the runny nose and sneezing. However, if you have recently had a respiratory infection you may have a viral or bacterial ocular infection. We recommend seeing your eye doctor to rule out an infection if you have recently been sick or never experienced ocular eye allergies in the past.
Should You Use An OTC Allergy Eye Drop?
While you may be tempted to immediately begin trying over the counter allergy eye drops, there are a few things you should consider first. The first line of treatment for eye allergies is avoidance of the triggers. However, in the spring with pollen counts rising, this can often be difficult. Some measures you can take to try to limit exposure to seasonal allergens include wearing sunglasses when outdoors, avoid touching your face and especially your eyes, try to use the air conditioning when indoors or in your car, and try to stay inside mid-morning and early evening when the pollen count is the highest.
However, if avoidance is impractical, you may decide to seek over the counter eye allergy drops to find eye allergy relief. Let’s talk about the types of OTC allergy drops and how to know which one is right for you.
The first type of OTC allergy drops to consider are known as lubricant drops or artificial tears. These drops can help wash allergens out of your eyes and provide relief if your eyes are irritated and dry.
We recommend speaking to your eye doctor about the best artificial tears for you especially if you wear contact lenses to ensure you don’t use the wrong type.
Antihistamine Eye Drops & Mast Cell Stabilizers
OTC antihistamine eye drops work by both decreasing the break down of mast cells which are responsible for the release of histamine and blocking the histamine already released. There are some OTC antihistamine eye drops now available, but again, it is important to discuss with your eye doctor the different eye drop brands available and whether a prescription eye drop or OTC allergy eye drop is best.
Decongestant Eye Drops
Decongestant eye drops are commonly used OTC allergy eye drops. In fact, probably the most widely known brand name OTC eye drop is Visine. Visine allergy eye drops are available with antihistamine, but also contain a decongestant. We strongly caution you with regard to OTC decongestant eye drops. These eye drops work by constricting blood vessels in the eye thereby eliminating the redness. This is a temporary fix and if Visine eye drops are used for more than three days, a condition known as rebound occurs. Essentially, the blood vessels no longer constrict normally without the use of Visine and it creates a vicious cycle of constantly needing the decongestant eye drops to eliminate redness. This can go on well beyond the eye allergy season. While Visine allergy eye drops also include an antihistamine eye drop in the active ingredient, we do not advise you to use this particular product without first discussing it with your eye doctor.
Seasonal allergies can affect your quality of life during those peak pollen weeks in the spring. There are OTC allergy eye drops that can provide some relief, but as we mentioned, it’s important to always see your eye doctor before starting new eye drops for itchy eyes.
We recommend seeing your eye doctor under any of the following conditions:
- First time suffering from eye allergies
- You need allergy eye drops for kids
- You are having eye pain
- You aren’t sure if it’s pink eye or allergies
- You are having sensitivity to light
- You wear contact lenses
Our doctors are happy to consult with you regarding eye allergies. Don’t suffer through the season with itching burning eyes. Schedule an appointment today with one of our doctors and find the eye allergy relief you need.