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Ocular Allergies

Allergy symptoms are commonly thought of as sneezing and running nose but itchy and watery eyes are also a major symptom of common allergies. Eye allergies affect 1 and 5 Americans. Eye allergies are caused by the irritation of the conjuctiva or the membrane that covers both the inner eyelids and the eye. Eye allergies are often seasonal with the most common type of allergies being caused by pollen from trees, grasses and weeds and dust leading to the irritation of the conjuntiva. Often allergies are worse when you go outside, especially when there are high winds or during spring to early summer when there is lots of pollen in the air. Other substances that generally cause eye allergies are air pollution, cosmetics, certain medications, dust mites and perfumes. If you are exposed to multiple possible allergens at the same times, then you can have your doctor test you to determine what is specifically is irritating your eyes.

The symptoms of eye allergies generally include: irritated eyes, itchiness, swollen eyes, burning or pain, light sensitivity, and excessive tears. Generally eye allergies do not affect vision and if they do cause a decrease in vision it is normally only mild blurriness. Limiting your exposure to allergens can reduce your symptoms. The following methods can help. During times of high pollen, stay inside and make sure to keep your windows closed, avoid using fans and if you do go outside wear sunglasses to help prevent pollen from reaching your eyes. To reduce allergies to dust buy allergy covers for pillows and make sure to wash bedding weekly at high temperatures. If the problem continues you may want to consider purchasing a new mattress. Cleanliness will also lead to decreased allergy outbreaks. Try keeping pets off of carpets and rugs and make sure to vacuum and/or sweep often. Additionally, clean both bathrooms and kitchens with bleach to prevent any mold from growing. Finally, try to resist the urge to rub your eyes as this can further irritate the delicate layer in your eyes.

Eye allergies are generally treated with antihistamines, the same treatment used for all other allergies, administered orally or as drops. When eyes become irritated the cells in them produce histamine, a substance that causes the vessels around the eyes to swell and redden. Luckily antihistamines work by preventing the effects of histamines from acting on the blood vessels of the eyes. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness so precaution must be taken when taking them during the day, although newer pills have significantly reduced this side effect. Other types of drops include saline solutions available at your local drug store, which act as lubricants and those drops with the ingredient ketotifen in them, these tend to be the longest lasting of all drops. As usual any extreme discomfort or changes in vision should be addressed by a medical professional immediately.

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