If you suffer seasonal allergies, you likely face itching or watery eyes, too. As an eye doctor in Oshkosh, we meet patients who manage these conditions and look for ways to reduce their suffering. Allergies can vary by individual, but there are general treatment approaches that work well in most cases. Here is an overview of ocular allergies and how to control them. Fortunately, they rarely affect eyesight, so this issue is mainly about personal comfort and enjoying each day without irritation.
Allergic conjunctivitis and its symptoms
The technical term for ocular allergies is “allergic conjunctivitis.” It describes the symptoms associated with allergies that irritate your eyes. These symptoms can exist independently, or alongside nasal symptoms.
As with nasal allergies, the reactions you suffer are a result of your immune system overreacting to usually harmless elements called allergens. Just as the allergens irritate your respiratory system, they will also irritate the membrane covering the eye and the inside of your eyelid. The result is that your eyes become swollen, red and itchy.
The causes of allergic conjunctivitis are basically the same as with allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Exposure to pollen and mold spores can cause a reaction, as well as pet dander. We have patients who walk outside on high-pollen days and report instant symptoms. Yard work, especially mowing the grass, can cause sneezing and eye symptoms.
If your allergens are based primarily indoors, you will likely discover symptoms while cleaning your house or handling your animals. Chemical sensitivities can also play a role here. If that strong-smelling cleaner tends to make things worse rather than better, you may need to look at alternatives. Patients often report that the combination of allergens and cleaning products is severely uncomfortable.
Finding the cause is not always easy. While many patients can identify their irritants due to obvious patterns, sometimes it is not easy to isolate the cause of the allergy. In those cases, seeing your doctor for an allergy test is necessary.
Over-the-counter allergy medicines are very helpful. Allegra and Claritin were originally designed for ocular symptoms, so patients often experience success with them. There are also prescription strength options still available for those who suffer severely.
Preventative measures will also help. If you know you are allergic to grass, for example, cover your hands and arms and wear a mask and fitted sunglasses as you mow the lawn. Sometimes, eye symptoms will follow immediately after sinus symptoms, so work to prevent both, rather than one or the other.
While allergies do not generally affect vision quality, you still need to be careful. Constantly irritated eyes often result in more rubbing and contact with your eyes, which makes you more vulnerable to pink eye and other infections. If your symptoms worsen, see your eye doctor in Oshkosh in case you need antibiotics with your usual allergy medicine.
Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe on the historic Oshkosh Main Street is available for eye exams and to assist you with infections and allergies. Visit us today to start the path towards ocular wellness.