Eye allergies are also called “allergic conjunctivitis”.
It is a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens (such as pollen, mold, dust mites or pet dander) that get into your eyes and cause inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and helps keep your eyelid and eyeball moist. Eye allergies are not contagious.
One in five Americans eyes are affected by uncomfortable allergy symptoms such as itching and irritation.
-Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Other substances called “irritants” (such as dirt and smoke, chlorine, etc.) and even viruses and bacteria, can compound the effect of eye allergies, or even cause irritation symptoms similar to eye allergies for people who aren’t even allergic. The eyes are an easy target for allergens and irritants because, like the skin, they are exposed and sensitive. Certain medications and cosmetics can also cause eye allergy response to these allergens and irritants, the body releases chemicals called histamines, which in turn produce inflammation.
How are Allergies Treated?
The best defense against allergic conjunctivitis is to first avoid contact with substances that trigger your allergies:
- Don’t touch or rub your eyes.
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Wash your bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens
- Avoid wearing eye makeup.
- Don’t share eye makeup.
- Never use another person’s contacts lenses
Eye allergy symptoms may disappear completely, either when the allergen is removed or after the allergy is treated. When prevention is not enough, consider over-the-counter or prescription treatments. Talk to your eye doctor about what is best for you.