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Eye Allergies

What Are Eye Allergies?

An eye allergy is the eye's overreaction to a substance that it thinks will harm it. Dust, for example, is harmless to most people, but to allergy sufferers it is a brutal assault that the eye tries to flush out with tears and mucus.

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is perhaps the most common type of eye allergy and often a result of exposure to pollen, dust, mold, cat or dog hair and other environmental factors.

Signs and symptoms of SAC usually occur in late spring and summer, and their severity will vary from day to day, often fluctuating with pollen counts. During seasons of low pollen counts or relative lack of sunshine, the incidence and severity of SAC is significantly reduced if caused by seasonal pollen.

What Are the Symptoms of Eye Allergies?

Eye allergy symptoms may include itching, redness, eyelid swelling and tearing. Nasal congestion occurs in some sufferers as well.

Who Do Eye Allergies Affect?

Eye allergies can affect almost anyone at anytime. Those impacted by seasonal allergies can be more affected in the late spring and summer when the pollen counts are high. Those who suffer allergies from pet dander will most likely experience eye allergy symptoms when exposed to cat or dog hair.

How to Avoid Eye Allergies

Avoidance of the allergen(s) is the best way to treat eye allergies. Try to identify the thing that causes the allergic reaction and avoid it. Symptoms should improve dramatically.

Dust mites, fecal particles and mold are the most frequent causes of chronic or recurrent allergic conjunctivitis. And because dust mites are often found in beds and linens, they can be controlled by using impermeable mattress and pillow covers and by changing bedding weekly and washing it in a hot water cycle.

During high pollen seasons, patients should limit their time outdoors in high-exposure activities.

For domestic pet sensitivity, the most effective measure is to eliminate the source by removing the pet from indoors, as carpets, upholstery, and clothing are all havens for animal allergens.

Allergy sufferers should also try and avoid non-specific irritants such as smoking, air pollution, and strong odors or perfumes.

How Are Eye Allergies Treated?

If avoiding the allergen is not possible, physicians often prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids and combination drugs to treat symptoms. Pharmacological treatments have become the most widespread form of treatment for eye allergy, as they are widely available, simple to use, and offer the greatest relief in the shortest time.

Alcon manufactures and sells a prescription eye drop called Patanol® or Opatanol® ophthalmic solution, depending on your country of residence, to treat every day eye allergy symptoms. Learn more about treatments for eye allergies.