Common signs and symptoms of allergies
- Red, swollen, tearing or itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
- Headache from sinus congestion
Eye allergy treatment
Avoidance: The most common “treatment” is to avoid what’s causing your eye allergy. Itchy eyes? Keep your home free of pet dander and dust, and stay inside with the air conditioner on when a lot of pollen is in the air. If you have central air conditioning, use a high quality filter that can trap most airborne allergens and replace it frequently.
Medications. If you’re not sure what’s causing your eye allergies, or you’re not having any luck avoiding them, your next step will probably be medication to alleviate the symptoms.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications each have their advantages. For example, over-the-counter products are often less expensive, while prescription ones are often stronger. Eyedrops are available as simple eye washes; or, they may have one or more active ingredients such as antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers.
Antihistamines. These drugs decrease many symptoms caused by airborne allergens, such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.
Decongestants. These drugs clear up redness. They contain vasoconstrictors, which make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, lessening the apparent redness. They treat the symptom, not the cause. In fact, with extended use, the blood vessels can become dependent on the vasoconstrictor to stay small. When you discontinue the eyedrops, the vessels actually get bigger than they were in the first place. This process is called rebound hyperemia, and the result is that your red eyes worsen over time.
Mast Cell Stabilizers. These drugs decrease redness and swelling. Mast cell stabilizers are similar to antihistamines. But while antihistamines are known for their immediate relief, mast cell stabilizers are known for their long-lasting relief.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or Corticosteroids. In some cases, combinations of medications may be used.