Tips for Dealing with Eye Allergies

  • The thing about allergies is that there are so many different forms. As for me, I have most of them—except food allergies. I'm lucky in that I'm not sensitive to any foods at all. But I do have nasal allergies year round, eye allergies, and skin allergies (eczema).


    As many of you probably know too, it's not fun, especially this time of year, when all the spring and summer allergens start to bloom. Allergy pills are usually pretty effective at controlling many of the symptoms of nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hayfever.


    Eye allergies, though, are a bit tougher to control. At least that's been my experience. I've never found that my allergy pills did a whole lot to make my eyes feel better. Once they start tearing, itching, producing mucus and all of the other fun symptoms that go along with eye allergies, I usually just have to wait it out. Eventually, the symptoms subside—at least most of the time.

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    There was one summer, though, that things got so bad, I ended up with a corneal abrasion from all of the rubbing and irritation. I know I shouldn't rub my eyes when they itch, but if you've ever felt the eye allergy itch, you know how hard it is to resist!


    But, since my eye injury, I've been much more careful of how I treat my eyes. And I started seeking better treatment too, from my eye doctor. It's paid off—I've never had such severe problems again. Corneal abrasions hurt, and they can affect your vision and the health of your eye permanently too, so you want to avoid them!


    As with all allergies, the best way to prevent symptoms is to avoid your triggers, but that's not always possible, despite your best efforts. So, here are some tips for dealing with eye allergy symptoms, based on my experience:

    1. Take immediate comfort measures. As soon as my eyes start to itch, I apply a clean washcloth wrapped around an ice cube or two to my eye. I've found that the ice soothes the itch and the rough texture of the washcloth tends to wipe away the mucus better, without leaving behind lint like a paper towel does.
    2. If your eyes are dry, try applying soothing eye moistening drops, such as Refresh or its generic equivalent. Don't use over the counter allergy eye drops for more than a day or two, as they can actually make your symptoms worse.
    3. Do make sure you take your allergy pills regularly, before symptoms begin, as they will probably help prevent some allergic sensitivity in the eye, even if they don't totally control it.

    If none of the steps above provide complete control, then it's time to contact your doctor for a prescription specific to eye allergies. There's a brand new nasal spray coming out in June 2007 that has proven effective in treating both nasal and eye allergies. It's called Veramyst and contains the same medicine found in Flonase. It's scent-free, though, and easier to administer than Flonase, so you may want to ask your doctor about it.


    Other medicines used to treat eye allergies include these prescription eye drops: ketotifen; antihistamine drops; mast cell stabilizer drops such as cromolyn , nedocromil and lodoxamide; dual-action drops such as Patanol; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops such as Ketorolac; and steroid eye drops such as loteprednol and dexamethasone. Your doctor can tell you which type might be most helpful for you.  


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    Each person is different, and it might take some trial and error to come up with the best treatment for you. Allergy shots are also very helpful in treating eye allergies in many people.

Published On: May 21, 2007