Watery and itchy eyes are as much a part of summer as long sunny days for people who suffer from eye allergies. Typically, these allergies are seasonal and present in the same season or part of the year every year.
Causes of Eye Allergies
In most cases, allergies – including eye allergies – are caused by the body overreacting to a normal environmental substance.
For seasonal eye allergies, the most common trigger is plant pollen which is produced in the late spring or early summer.
The immune system reacts to the pollen as if it were an infection and can lead to many symptoms of allergies.
Symptoms Associated with Eye Allergies
When the body has an allergic reaction, nearly any part of the body can be affected, but allergies that are specific to the eyes can happen with other reactions.
Symptoms include red eyes, watery eyes, itching around the eyes, and irritation on the eyelids and surface of the eye.
Red eyes occur when the blood vessels in the eyes become larger and swell to create a bloodshot appearance. This happens in an allergic reaction to bring more white blood cells to the eyes to fight the potential intruder – the pollen.
Watery eyes occur when there are excess tears produced and the extra tears overflow and cause watery, teary eyes. In an allergic reaction, the extra tears produced can help to flush out any remaining pollen from the front of the eyes.
Itching around the eyes occurs when inflammation occurs on the skin or the conjunctiva. Both the outside and the inside of the eyelids are susceptible to inflammation in an allergic reaction.
The inflammation is due to the release of hormones that signal to the immune system that an infection is occurring. In a healthy individual, the inflammation will actually cause more symptoms instead of improving the infection.
Irritation occurs when the eyes are not properly lubricated and blinking correctly. Due to the increased tears and inflammation around the eyelids, the tear film may be unsteady, and the blinks may be altered.
This irritation will mimic the feeling of dry eyes since the front of the eye will perceive the abnormal tear film as if it were too dry rather than too watery.
Treating Eye Allergies
To treat eye allergies, over the counter eye drops, over the counter pills, prescription eye drops, prescription pills, or special eyelid wipes may be used.
Eye Drops for Eye Allergies
If the allergies are only affecting the eyes, it may be best to treat the allergies with an eye drop.
There are both over the counter and prescription options in eye drops for allergies.
These eye drops are designed to prevent the hormone from stimulating the start of the allergic reaction.
Pills for Eye Allergies
If there are other symptoms of allergies, such as a runny nose, then eye allergies may also be treated with oral medication whether over the counter or prescription.
Like the eye drops, the medication is designed to prevent further allergic reactions and relieve symptoms of the allergies.
Eyelid Wipes for Eye Allergies
If the agent triggering the eye allergies is lodged around the eyelid, the allergic reaction may continue or be more severe.
To prevent small particles from remaining on or around the eyes, lid scrubs may be used to clean the eyelids and eyelashes.