Itchy Eyes? Things you can do immediately . . .

Allergy season is here, and odds are if you searched for and clicked on this article you are suffering.  Fortunately, relief is on the way.   If your eyes are itching, stinging, puffy or producing discharge, you might be concerned about having an infectious conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye”.  Distinguishing “pink eye” from eye allergies (allergic conjunctivitis) is something you should let your eye doctor do, but if your problem is allergic, there are some short-term steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms.

The hallmark of allergic conjunctivitis is itching, and allergic conjunctivitis caused by seasonal allergies is more often-than-not bilateral in it’s presentation.  An infectious pink eye usually starts in one eye with the other eye not being involved or subsequently becoming involved.  There is another clinical entity known as a “contact” allergy, where an allergen gets on your finger, you rub your eye and the eye “blows up” i.e. becomes itchy, teary and puffy.

If you think your conjunctivitis might be allergic, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.  In the meantime, one of the more effective treatments for allergic conjunctivitis is placing cool compresses on the eyes.  The symptoms of allergies occur when cells called mast cells that exist in the inner lining, or conjunctiva of the eye break down and release substances called “histamines”.  The histamines trigger the breakdown of more mast cells and the vicious cycle of itch continues.  The mast cells can also break down from eye rubbing, so another way to reduce the signs of allergic conjunctivitis is to avoid eye rubbing.

Often these two steps can result in immediate improvement in comfort, but what happens when they aren’t enough?  There are many over-the-counter eye drops that offer relief from the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, but one should definitely consult their doctor before using these drops.  Some OTC allergy eyedrops may have unwanted side effects. There are excellent prescription allergy eyedrops such as Patanol, Pataday, Alomide, Crolom, Elestat, Ocufen, Optivar and many others that can help manage allergies over the entire allergy season.  The Optivar website has a pollen count by zip code search tool that is interesting.  Doctors also use steroid eyedrops to get the symptoms under control in severe cases of allergic conjunctivitis.

Don’t forget; it is dangerous to self-medicate, so in addition to cool compresses and not rubbing please be sure to consult your optometrist or ophthalmologist regarding your red, itchy or watery eyes – it may not be allergies!

Copyright Dr. Alan N. Glazier, All rights reserved

Courtesy of the doctors of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians serving Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg, Maryland

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One Response

  1. Your skin is itchy, burning or blistering or has poxlike marks, especially near your eyes. Vision Care

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