Do you suffer from itchy, watery eyes? These are some of the common signs of having ocular allergies.
One of the most prevalent seasonal conditions is allergic conjunctivitis, an allergic reaction that affects the eyes. The conjunctiva is a layer of tissue that lines the outside of your eye and inside of your eyelids.
Conjunctivitis occurs when the tissue becomes inflamed. When it’s due to allergic conjunctivitis, allergens are the cause of the inflammation.
There are other reasons your eyes may become inflamed, but there are common symptoms in allergic conjunctivitis that can help you identify ocular allergies. If you exhibit the following signs, you likely have eye allergies.
But the only way to receive a diagnosis is to see your eye doctor. The best thing you can do is visit an ophthalmologist if your symptoms worsen or they may indicate another health problem. Keep reading for 5 signs you may be suffering from ocular allergies and what you can do about them!
1. You Have Itchy Eyes
One of the primary symptoms of eye allergies is experiencing itchy eyes. You may have a hard time resisting the urge to rub at your eyes to relieve this particular symptom.
But rubbing your eyes will only make your allergy symptoms worse. It may even make your eyes more irritated than they were before.
A chemical called histamine causes allergic reactions. Your body releases histamine as an immune response.
Allergens trigger this response because your body mistakes a harmless substance like pollen for a harmful microorganism and attacks it. Histamines are released as part of this attack and cause the blood vessels in the conjunctiva to swell and become inflamed.
Itchiness is another side effect of inflammation and can feed into inflammation. The more you scratch or rub at your eyes or an area of skin that’s become inflamed, the more irritated it becomes.
This cycle is widespread in those that suffer from eye allergies. The best thing you can do to relieve itchiness is simply not rubbing your eyes. If your eyes continue to bother you, consider using artificial tears or eye drops to bring temporary relief.
2. You Experience Red and Puffy Eyes, Especially in the Morning
Swollen blood vessels also cause your eyes to swell and even become puffy, especially around your eyelids. This symptom is often most severe when you first wake up, particularly if you like to sleep with your windows open.
You may also subconsciously rub your eyes with your hands or even against your pillow while you sleep. The problem with doing this is that rubbing your eyes can make them appear even redder and swollen.
3. Your Eyes are Watery
Your eyes tend to water more when you’re suffering from allergic conjunctivitis. This happens for several different reasons.
One reason is that your eyes react to any irritation by tearing or becoming watery, as it helps the eye heal itself more efficiently. But another reason your eyes water may occur is because of a clear, mucus-like discharge.
The discharge is a common reaction to allergies and viral infections. If your eyes are watery and producing mucus, it’s often a sign of allergies.
4. You Deal With Seasonal Eye Discomfort
One of the most common allergens that cause allergic conjunctivitis is pollen. Pollen is more abundant in the air during the spring, and it’s why spring is often called allergy season. If your symptoms occur during this time, you probably have a pollen allergy.
Some people also experience hay fever in the fall, which can be caused by pollen, spores, and other allergens that are more abundant during the fall season. Hay fever may be mistaken for a cold, but it’s a seasonal allergic reaction. If you tend to get a runny nose and irritated eyes in the fall, this is usually a sign of having allergies.
5. Your Eye Discomfort Is Worse Around Common Allergens
Allergies don’t have to be seasonal. Many common allergens can cause allergic conjunctivitis, including mold, dander, dust, and even household chemicals.
Having your symptoms worsen when you’re around certain animals or in specific environments often means that you’re allergic to something. Sometimes, if you regularly work in a particular environment that contains a common allergen, it may be harder to recognize when you have an allergic reaction.
If you’re frequently experiencing watery, itchy, and inflamed eyes, take a step back and assess your daily environment. You may find that your issue is due to allergies that you’ve never had diagnosed.
Allergies Vs. Other Conditions
Some allergy symptoms overlap with other eye conditions. One of these is a chronic condition called dry eye syndrome.
One of the primary symptoms of having dry eyes is if you experience a burning sensation in the eye. Your eyes might itch if you have dry eye syndrome, but it isn’t the primary symptom. With allergies, your eyes are primarily itchy.
You should also make sure if you have any discharge coming from your eyes that it is clear. If the discharge is white, it may be pus, which can indicate a bacterial infection.
Also, if you experience severe symptoms like vision loss, the issue might be something besides allergies, and you should seek treatment right away.
When to See an Eye Doctor
If you think you have ocular allergies, you can use home remedies and over-the-counter allergy medication to alleviate your symptoms. But when these solutions don’t provide you with the relief you’re searching for, that’s a sign that it’s time to see your eye doctor.
The problem may be something other than allergies. You could also have allergies, but they may require more intensive treatment options. No matter what’s causing your symptoms, an accurate diagnosis is the first step to finding an effective treatment that works best for you.
Frustrated by symptoms of what you think may be ocular allergies? Schedule an appointment at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, with one of our eye doctors to get the relief you need!