Red, watery, itchy, tearing or burning eyes are no fun but they can be much more dangerous than just being annoying. If your eyes have these symptoms you may have eye allergies (allergic conjunctivitis), which affects millions of Americans each year. A great many people with these symptoms just ignore them hoping that they will go away or that they are simply a part of another condition such as a cold or nasal allergy. Our Tortugas eye specialist at Your Eyecare & Contact Lens/Johnson can diagnose an eye allergy as well as prescribe effective treatments.
According to our Tortugas eye specialist, true eye allergies are brought on by exposure to an allergen, which can be triggered by either inside or outside irritants. Eye allergies develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problem in most people. An allergic reaction can occur when that “something” comes in contact with antibodies attached to the mast cells in your eyes; the cells respond by releasing histamine and other substances or chemicals that cause tiny blood vessels to leak and the eyes to become itchy, red and watery. Indoor triggers include items such as pet dander, dust mites and mold while outside allergens include pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Irritants such as smoke, perfume, car and truck exhaust as well as diesel fumes can also cause eye allergies.
Eye allergies share symptoms with some diseases of the eye, making accurate diagnosis by our Tortugas eye specialist imperative. Diagnostic tests may include an examination with a microscope, which will show swollen blood vessels on the surface of the eye. In addition, your doctor may test for a certain type of white blood cell that shows up on areas of the eye affected by allergies. This involves gently scraping the conjunctiva (the inner lining of the eyelid) and seeing if those cells are found. Depending on the severity of the allergy there are many treatment options ranging from over-the-counter eye drops to prescription medicines to calm the allergy. Identifying and avoiding the trigger allergens is a key part of the treatment. Don’t suffer from eye allergies; come to our office for an evaluation.