When eyes become irritated by a substance in the environment, the body produces histamines to combat the allergan. Histamines cause the tiny blood vessels of the eyes to become dilated, which can cause the eyelids and conjunctiva (the clear membrane that protects the white part of the eyes) to become inflamed and irritated. The medical term used to describe this condition is allergic conjunctivitis or eye allergies.
The most common causes of eye allergies include pollen, dust mites, cosmetics. Allergic conjunctivitis can be a chronic condition. People who experience eye allergies often suffer from nasal allergies as well. Unlike other forms of conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
Symptoms of Eye Allergies
The most common symptoms of eye allergies include:
- Red and/or swollen eyes
- Itchiness, grittiness, or burning sensation
- Excessive tearing
- Sensitivity to light (less common)
Symptoms can become more severe if the patient continues to be exposed to problematic allergen, which makes prompt diagnosis and treatment of allergic conjunctivitis very important.
Treating Eye Allergies
The first step in treating eye allergies is an accurate diagnosis. When Dr. Semaan examines a patient who has the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, he performs a number of diagnostic tests and reviews the patient’s medical history. Dr. Semaan works with his patients to identify the allergens that are triggering the reaction. The most effective treatment for eye allergies is the identification and avoidance of substances that cause the allergic response.
In some cases, avoidance of the allergen is not possible. When eye allergies are caused by pollen, dust, or animal dander, measures can be taken to minimize exposure, but rarely is complete avoidance possible. To manage the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, a number of medications can be prescribed. These include antihistamines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and medicines that stabilize mast cells responsible for the production of histamines. Dr. Semaan also recommends regular use of saline eye drops to flush allergens from the eyes.
Consultation with Dr. Semaan
Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that usually requires long-term management to keep the symptoms under control, so it is important to work with an optometrist who is knowledgeable and experienced in treating the condition, such as Dr. Semaan. If you’d like to find relief from eye allergies, we encourage you to contact us today to set up an initial consultation with Dr. Semaan.