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What you need to know about

Eye allergies

What are eye allergies?

  • Reaction to allergens that causes itchy, burning, watery, red eyes
  • Also known as allergic conjunctivitis, a condition that affects millions of Americans

Signs and symptoms

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Clear, watery discharge

Triggers

  • Outdoor allergens such as pollens from grass, trees and weeds
  • Indoor allergens such as pet dander, dust mites and mold
  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfume and diesel exhaust

Prevention

Avoid triggers by:

  • Keeping windows closed during high pollen periods
  • Using air conditioning in your home and car
  • Wearing glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes
  • Using “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites and a dehumidifier to control mold/dust mite levels
  • Taking special care not to touch your eyes or face after petting animals until you wash your hands

Treatment

  • Try non-prescription over-the-counter medications:
    • Artificial tears
    • Decongestant eye drops (for no longer than five consecutive days)
    • Oral antihistamines (may dry eyes and make symptoms worse)
  • See an allergist, who can identify triggers through allergy skin testing (Read more here) and may prescribe more effective medications:
    • Eye drops (decongestant, antihistamine, mast cell stabilizer, corticosteroid, NSAID)
    • Non-sedating oral antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids
    • Allergy shots, drops or tablets (immunotherapy) (Read more here)