Different allergies can affect the eye in varying ways. While the main symptoms of an allergic response tend to be itchy, red or watery eyes, there are other degrees of reactions that cause different sensations, and complications.
Allergies are common, affecting as many as one in four adults in the UK alone. The most common types of allergens include pollen, dust mites, stings from wasps and bees, mould, pets and pet hair and even household chemicals.
Certain kinds of food, medicines can also create an allergic reaction in individuals.
Symptoms can depend on the person and what they react to. So, while some might be more affected by coughing, wheezing or other complications of the throat, other sufferers may feel further complications from eye problems, also known as eye allergies.
An eye allergy is an immune reaction that occurs on the surface of the eye. It’s also known as allergic conjunctivitis, but in essence it’s the process of histamine release on the area of contact with an allergen (such as pollen) that causes the common symptoms of red, watery, or itchy eyes.
Most of the time these allergens will be air-borne, but in some cases symptoms can also be contracted by transferring allergens from touching the eye.
The main symptoms of eye allergies have already been touched upon, but others may include:
- Pink or red appearance to the eye
- Swollen eyelids (or “puffy” eyelids)
If you’re affected, what could you be allergic to? Hay fever, or allergies to dust mites, mould, or pet hair are common, and some last a season, while others can affect a person all year round.
For some, it’s simply knowing the seasons, but others may not know what they’re reacting to and should speak to a GP or pharmacist for further advice.
What you can do
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to stop the symptoms of allergies. Eye drops for allergies can help ease symptoms that directly apply to the eye, as well as clear the eye surface from allergens like a wash.
In the summer, sunglasses can serve more of a purpose than just UV protection. They can block many airborne allergens from getting onto your eye.