Hey, allergy season. Welcome back to the time of year when everyone blames almost every distress on allergies! Let us help set the record straight though, since certain symptoms are easily assumed as a seasonal allergic reaction when they can actually be a result of something worth looking into further.
But okay, we’ll give eye allergies a little bit of attention since they can be the reason for red, itchy, swollen, sensitive, burning, and overall irritated eyes. First and foremost, don’t forget, it’s not just the pollen. There are several things you can be allergic to from trees to animals to new perfumes, even new contact lenses, believe it or not.
The reason behind the reactions you experience is the release of histamines. Histamines are a chemical that causes all the swelling, tears, et cetera, in an attempt to release allergens and help defend your eyes.
While antihistamine pills and eye drops help calm allergic reactions, it’s suggested that over-the-counters aren’t used for more than a couple of days. Ask us about prescribed eye drops that can be used on a more fluid schedule and can healthily harmonize with any existing eye issues such as glaucoma.
Now that we’ve covered eye allergies, let’s talk about other possible culprits.
Eye Allergies or Eye Infections?
The reactions might seem as similar as identical twins in the beginning. But the causes are completely unrelated. Eye allergies are caused by allergens and eye infections are caused by substances like bacteria, parasites, and viruses. If they are not appropriately addressed, symptoms can mutate from a mild itch to more intense pain, light sensitivity and thick, slimy discharge.
Another important thing to know about infections vs allergies: infections can spread to others and allergies cannot. Proper hygiene and following ODs guidance are crucial to healing your own eyes and protecting the eyes of others.
Eye Allergies or Dry Eye?
One oddity of dry eye syndrome is that it can lead to watery eyes. This reflex tearing helps to confuse dry eye syndrome and eye allergies. There are so many varied factors that can lead to dry eye. Factors that can develop at any time. One way to help differentiate the two is maintaining awareness of other symptoms that are more prone to dry eye, such as:
- Heavy eyelids
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain that feels different from allergic irritation
Eye Allergies or Adverse Medicinal Reactions?
Some medications can cause severe eye problems, but the puzzling part is they often don’t kick in until after years of use. This is one of the several reasons why it is important to discuss all side effects with your doctors and to share your use of all medications with your trusted optometrist.
Medications that can lead to eye issues fall in every arena. The most common negative results are dry eye, light sensitivity, and in more serious cases, optic nerve damage and loss of visual acuity. If these reactions begin to take place during the months that are often considered “allergy season”, it may be easy to relate them with allergy responses.
Eye allergies usually don’t come on their own. They're often accompanied by sneezing, a scratchy throat, and a stuffy nose. The best way to confirm the cause? A checkup! Request an appointment on our website with details of what eye irritations you're looking to calm. Our team at Bethesda Vision Care is here to help!