Q: What are the common symptoms of eye allergies?
A: Itchiness, redness, mild irritation, often with lid swelling, and possibly with watery or mucous discharge which may cause intermittent blurry vision.
Q: Can allergies do permanent damage to my eyes?
A: Allergies are basically inflammation of the eye because of the presence of foreign objects or substances such pollen, pet hair, cosmetics,… Untreated persistent severe allergies will cause deterioration of the eye tissue and thus decrease in vision.
Q: What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
A: “Pink eye” is another term for conjunctivitis which is the inflammation of the “white” membrane of the eye which has become “pink” because of the dilated blood vessels. Conjunctivitis can be caused by one or a combination of: - allergies (pollen, dust…), - chemicals (fumes, cosmetics…), - infection (bacteria, virus…). - auto-immune diseases (arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome…) - dry eyes (wind, computer usage…). For diagnosis, you should see an eye doctor.
Q: What is the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
A: Seasonal allergies come and go with the seasons such as exposure to tree pollen or grass in the Spring or Summer. Perennial allergies persist as long as the allergens are around such as dust, mold, cosmetics,… The signs and symptoms are similar. Knowing your family medical history, your living environment and habits should give you clues of what type of allergies you have.
Q: What are the treatment options available for eye allergies?
A: Identification, neutralization and/or elimination of the offending allergens is the first step in the management and treatment. Symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counter eye lubricants or anti-allergy eye drops. Cold compresses can be used for itch relief. Persistent eye allergies should be managed by an eye care professional.
Johan Tran, Ph.D., O.D., Diplomate ABO