Fight Eye Allergies with a Few Simple Steps
Eye allergies, called allergic conjunctivitis, happens when the eyes react to something that irritates them. The eyes become itchy, red, and swollen, often with tearing and burning. Unlike bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, which is highly contagious, allergic conjunctivitis can’t be spread from person to person.
There is no way for you to know if your symptoms are contagious unless you have an eye exam. During the exam, Dr. Waters will check to see whether your symptoms are related to an eye infection or allergies. It is important to avoid contact with the allergen that is causing your symptoms. Common allergens are pollen, pets, mold, and dust.
Fortunately, in most cases, it is easy to treat eye allergies. A variety of methods can bring relief:
Preservative-Free lubricating tears can help temporarily relieve eye allergies by washing allergens from the eye. They also relieve dry, irritated eyes by adding moisture. These drops can be used as often as you need them. It’s always important to use preservative-free drops in individual vials. Any bottled tears have some amount of preservatives that can break down the tear film over time and cause more irritation. Common over-the-counter brands of individual vials are Thera Tears, Systane, and Refresh.
Allergy pills may only be slightly helpful in relieving itchy eyes, and unfortunately, they can make eyes dry and even worsen eye allergy symptoms.
Over-the-counter (OTC) Allergy Eye Drops
The best treatment is over-the-counter eye drops with an antihistamine to help relieve itchiness. Look for either generic or brand-name drops that contain the medicine Olopatadine. Dr. Waters has found this to be most effective. Lastacaft is another effective drop. There is also a drop called Naphcon-A that relieves itching and reduces redness. Naphcon-A should only be used for a few days at a time, as it can worsen dry eyes. If you wear contact lenses, take your contacts out before putting your allergy drops in, and wait 10 minutes before putting the contacts back in.
Tips for Eye Allergies:
- Never rub your eyes.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Avoid “Get the Red Out” eye drops.
- Use cool compresses.
- Chill eye drops before use.
- Use air conditioning and air purifiers.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom.