Often called Allergic Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva), eye allergies are quite common in varying degrees and happen when the eyes come into contact with something that the body finds irritating. The eyes and lids will become red, swollen and itchy. They may also start tearing and feel “watery”. Some people also feel a burning sensation.
You may be thinking “Conjunctivitis…does this mean I have pink eye?” Allergic conjunctivitis is not to be confused with the bacterial or viral forms of conjunctivitis and unlike those problems, allergic conjunctivitis cannot be transferred from one person to another.
Some common elements that can cause allergic conjunctivitis are: dust, pollen, trees, pet dander, perfumes or some foods. Many people who suffer from nasal allergy also suffer with the eyes.
For many of us allergy sufferers, an over-the-counter eye drop is all that is needed to quell an allergic reaction. There are a number of good antihistamine drops available without a prescription. It’s recommended that you start with something that contains only an antihistamine, such as the active ingredient “ketotifen” rather than a redness reliever. For some, a prescription-strength medication might be needed. Talk to your ophthalmologist or optometrist to find out what would be best for your situation.
Written by Bart W., Technician with Milwaukee Eye Care