In a matter of allergies, the nose is not alone. If you thought that the only allergy symptoms are congestion, runny nose and sneezing, you are wrong. If one day you wake up with the red eyes that itch, burn and tear you, and / or with inflamed eyelids, you have all the signs of an eye allergy or allergic conjunctivitis. For now, a compress of cold water can relieve the symptoms, but in the long term you need to identify what produces it and learn to fight the symptoms.
Allergies in the eyes
The eyes are very sensitive and delicate organs. Anything that irritates them is extremely annoying: imagine the sensation of having a foreign body in the eye, a kind of grit that is added to the itching that makes you scrub them continuously, and not to mention redness and inflammation. How to go outside with such an appearance? Well, one in five people (in the United States) suffer from allergies that affect their eyes and are known as eye allergy or conjunctivitis allergic Although they can cause blurred vision, the good news is that the symptoms of this condition, although very bothersome, do not permanently affect your eyesight, unlike other eye infections that can damage it and sometimes give the same symptoms. Therefore, if you do not find relief and improvement with over-the-counter medications for allergies and strategies to avoid it, you should consult as soon as possible with the ophthalmologist (the eye doctor) or with your GP.
Why do allergies happen in the eyes?
The function of the immune or immune system (defense) is to protect the body from harmful substances such as viruses and bacteria. This system also reacts and acts against foreign substances, called allergens (to which the person is allergic) that are usually harmless and do not cause any problems in most people.
In an allergic person, the immune system is hypersensitive and reacts extremely. In the case of ocular (eye) allergy, the problem begins when the conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the inner part of the eyelid and the white part of the eye) comes into contact with an allergen. The immune system creates antibodies in an attempt to combat what it perceives as an attack. This could cause the eye to release histamines and other substances to fight the allergen. That is what causes the redness, itching and tearing, discomfort that can occur independently or in combination with the symptoms of nasal allergy.
The two types of eye allergies
There are two types of eye allergies: the seasonal and the most common, the perennial. Seasonal allergy occurs only in some seasons of the year that coincide with the times when there are more spores and pollen in the air (spring or autumn), while perennial occurs throughout the year.
The most common causes of allergies are exposure to dust mites, feathers, dandruff, dead skin cells of animals, smoke, environmental pollution and also perfumes, cosmetics and certain medicines. Usually, the allergic person can identify what causes the allergy outbreak: a walk in the garden, carrying a pet, vacuuming dust or being exposed to some cleaning products. But if the causes are not obvious, sometimes a blood test can determine them more easily. It is very important to know what causes the allergic reaction to be able to isolate and avoid what triggers it.
Both types of allergy produce the same symptoms, only that they are experienced at different times and are caused by different allergens. Itching is almost always a symptom that indicates that it is an eye allergy or allergic conjunctivitis, which may also be accompanied by:
- Redness of the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Burning sensation
- Secretion and / or eyelids stuck
How do you avoid eye allergies?
The most important thing to prevent allergies in the eyes is to try to limit exposure to the allergen that stimulates the reaction. For that:
- If pollen affects you, avoid going outside when the pollen count is higher (usually at mid-morning or at nightfall). Keep the windows of the house closed and use the air conditioning. Fans tend to make crises worse by spreading pollen, spores and dust in the air. If you have to go outside, wear large sunglasses, to prevent pollen from touching your eyes. When driving a car, close the car windows.
- If dust mites affect you, cover the mattress and pillows with allergy covers. Frequently wash the bedding with hot water. And if the mattress already has several years of use (10 or more), consider buying a new one. Most old mattresses are a true colony of allergens.
- Keep the floor very clean, without dust. In addition to sweeping or vacuuming, you should clean it with a damp mop to collect all dust particles. If your allergy is severe, consider removing carpets and replacing them with wood or slab floors. Similarly, avoid, if possible, the curtains of fabric that tend to accumulate dust and / or moisture.
- Try to avoid moisture inside the house to avoid mold. Clean the kitchen and bathroom with a solution containing chlorine to remove as much mold as possible.
- If your pet is the one that causes allergies , avoid entering the bedroom. Do not let him sleep in your bed.
To relieve symptoms
Sometimes, it is not enough to avoid the triggers (allergens) of the allergic reaction and you have to use medications, either over the counter or by prescription.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, which irritates them even more. To relieve itching, inflammation and burning, use cold compresses.
- Saline water rinses and eye lubricant drops that can be bought without a prescription help relieve irritated eyes and remove eye particles.
- You will also find in the pharmacy decongestant eye drops that eliminate redness. Some burn a little when applied and do not relieve all symptoms. In fact, it is possible that if you use them for a long time, they have a “bounce” effect and increase even more in redness.
- Eye drops containing ketotifen or ketotifen can relieve symptoms for up to about 12 hours. These do not cause the rebound effect, even if you use them for long periods.
- If you refrigerate the droplets you will feel more relief when applying them.
- You can also try oral antihistamines (taken) such as Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine), which will relieve you in the long term and usually do not make you sleepy.
If you do not improve with these medications, your doctor and / or your ophthalmologist may prescribe other more powerful drops to relieve allergy symptoms. Follow the instructions carefully and do not forget to wash your hands very well before and after applying them.
Ideally, you can find an effective method to avoid exposure to what causes your allergic reaction. If you can identify them and keep them at bay, the symptoms will improve considerably. Remember that if they are not relieved by these recommendations or if other symptoms appear, you should immediately consult your doctor to identify the causes of the problem. They may not be allergies or, if the allergies are very severe, they may require prescription treatments.