How Allergies Affect the Body
Allergies occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to something in your environment. Whether the allergy is to peanuts, pollen, or types of metals, the reaction can cause several symptoms throughout the body.
Common symptoms include redness or a rash, swelling or heat, and irritation. These symptoms can occur in any part of the body including the eye.
How Allergies Affect the Eyes
When an allergic reaction is on or near the eyes, it can produce several symptoms which are uncomfortable.
If the allergic reaction causes redness or rash, the eyes may appear red or the eyelids may have some redness.
The redness caused by allergies may be mistaken for viral conjunctivitis or pink eye or for a bacterial infection.
In cases where the allergy produces swelling, the eyelids may appear puffy or swollen. This can cause the eyes to also feel dry despite producing a normal amount of tears.
If the eyes are involved in the allergic reaction, irritation or itching is the most commonly expected symptom.
The irritation can be on the front surface of the eye or around the eyes on the eyelids.
What Causes Eye Allergies
Not all allergic reactions involve the eyes. The proximity of the reaction to the eyes is the major determining factor in whether or not the eyes will be affected by the allergic reaction.
Since pollen or other environmental allergens are in the air and come in contact with the front of the eyes when the eyes are open, these allergies will often have a reaction in the eyes.
Cosmetics, such as makeup or lotion, that come in close contact with the eyes may result in an allergic reaction in the eyes. Even things such as nail polish that only contact the eyes when you rub them may result in an allergic reaction.
Sometimes, the material that your glasses are made from can cause an allergic reaction around the eyes when it rubs on the skin around the eyes.
While uncommon, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to eye drops or other medications when putting them into or onto the eyes.
How to Treat Eye Allergies
To treat allergies, the best option is to remove the allergen, or the substance causing the reaction.
If the allergy is due to a specific type of lotion or a certain material of glasses, switch to another option and the allergy may go away without other treatment.
If removing the allergen is not an option, such as if the allergies are due to pollen or dust, then treating the symptoms and using preventative options will be the best treatments.
For eye allergies, there are many eye drops both over the counter and prescription strength that help to relieve the symptoms of redness, itching, and irritation as well as help to prevent future allergic reactions.
These drops are called antihistamines and may also include a mast cell stabilizer in the drops.
In addition to eye drops, a common home treatment is using a cool compress to relieve the irritation and swelling often associated with allergies.