Some allergy sufferers go through the spring months looking like they’ve been in a fist fight. Dark circles around red and watery eyes are a dead give away, not to mention swollen sinuses and a runny nose.
Over 40 percent of the population experience itchy, watery eyes, resulting in problems ranging from excessive tears to blurry eyes. Worst of all, there is an increased desire to rub the eyes. This is the cause of “allergy shiners.”
Ocular allergies, or eye allergies are no different that allergies that strike other parts of the body. They happen when airborne allergens and other particles land directly on the surface of the eyes causing irritation and redness. The body, protecting the eyes produces an overabundance of mucus and tears that end up flooding the eyes.
Many female allergy sufferers will use makeup to cover the dark circles under their eyes, not realizing they may be having an allergic reaction to the very makeup they are using to conceal their allergy. Mascara and eyeliner should be used with caution if suffering from allergies.
The first order of business should be a visit to the optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can diagnose your problem and recommend treatment. They can also rule out any underlying infection that may be present.
The most obvious course of action is to minimize your exposure to the allergens triggering the allergic response. This may involve staying indoors when pollen counts are high, wearing sunglasses when outside to keep pollen particles from entering the eyes, dusting, and cleaning floors with a damp mop instead of a dry sweeper.
Avoiding cigarette smoke, pollution and strong odors may be helpful. People wearing contact lenses have a tougher problem to deal with. It’s recommended that they not be used when the eyes are irritated. Check with your eye doctor.
Medications for eye allergies
There are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications available to treat eye allergies. OTC artificial tears, decongestants and antihistamines can be effective in reducing symptoms. Artificial tears are useful for flushing the allergens out of the eyes. These products are for short-term use.
Prescription medications can be very effective at reducing symptoms. Antihistamines reduce itching, redness and swelling. Mast cell stabilizers may be used to help prevent the release of histamines, thus reducing symptoms. Again, always check with your doctor before taking any medication.