Sniffling, sneezing, congestion, sore throat and other symptoms are more than familiar to people who suffer from allergies, but many allergies also affect the eyes, causing redness, itching, burning, watering and even swelling that can make it difficult to see.
These allergies are also referred to as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies. Usually, their effects are temporary, but in severe cases, they can become problematic.
Eye allergies are caused by the same things that cause other allergies: the human body’s immune system overreacts to the presence of a substance that is normally harmless, causing it to release histamine and other chemicals that result in itching and redness in the eye.
There are generally two forms of an eye allergy. One is the common seasonal allergy and the other is the continual perennial form. Seasonal allergies occur when pollen levels in the air are highest, usually at the change of seasons. Perennial allergies, on the other hand, are triggered year-round and can occur because of dust mites, pet dander, smoke, cosmetics, pollution, chlorine, reactions to medication and a variety of other triggers.
There are two general approaches to treating eye allergies. The first is to avoid triggers whenever possible - "environmental controls". Medications and immunotherapy (oral or allergy shots) can help control these symptoms and control the often associated nasal drip and congestion.