All About Eye Allergies in Elkton & Clarksville
One of the most common reasons for eye trouble is allergies. These are often seasonal, but for some people, they persist all year round. Common symptoms include itching, watering, redness, and burning, all affecting the eyes. These symptoms sometimes happen due to other causes, such as infections, so it's important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to prevent serious problems.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Allergic reactions affecting any body part stem from an over-response of the immune system. The system perceives something in the environment as being harmful and revs up its defenses. When the substance isn't actually a danger to the body, this response is considered to be an allergic reaction.
Common triggers for eye allergies are, in many cases, the same ones that cause nasal symptoms. Pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, and perfume all fall into this category. Some irritants are more bothersome to eyes than noses. These include diesel exhaust, cigarette and other smoke, some types of make-up (including some products marketed as being for the eye area), soap residue, and similar things.
Why Can a Substance That Used to be Fine Suddenly Bother You?
This is the result of what is referred to as "sensitization," and it can be caused by a number of things. Prolonged exposure to an irritant is one of the most common factors in this process, but it is typically unknown why the body suddenly decides it no longer likes a particular substance.
Sometimes, a new allergy is the sign of an underlying general health disorder. Asthma and/or eczema often accompany certain types of eye allergies.
Are There Multiple Types of Eye Allergies?
Surprisingly, yes. The type most people are familiar with is allergic conjunctivitis, and it can be either seasonal or perennial (meaning "all year round," in this context). Seasonal allergies are typically triggered by things that grow outside, while perennial ones are more likely caused by indoor irritants or man-made substances like diesel exhaust.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is more serious than simple allergic conjunctivitis. It causes significant tearing and can include the production of thick mucus. Feelings of foreign bodies in the eyes, itching, and aversion to light are also common symptoms. This form is most common in boys and young men. Sufferers often have asthma or eczema as well.
Atopic keratoconjunctivitis is very similar to the previous type, but it typically affects older men with a history of allergic dermatitis. So much mucus may be produced with this type that the eyelids stick together. Without treatment, it can cause corneal scarring. Scarring can interfere with vision or even cause blindness that would require a corneal transplant to correct.
Contact allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction to contact lenses or the proteins that form on them. It causes the lens to be irritating as well as bringing on redness, burning, and mucus production.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a severe form of contact lens allergy. Along with a more serious form of the symptoms of contact allergic conjunctivitis, it can cause fluid sacs to form on the inside of the upper eyelid.
Treating Eye Allergies
The first step to treating any kind of allergy is to try to avoid the allergen. For the contact lens-related types of eye allergies, this will mean either switching to another brand of lens or changing to a completely different form of eye correction.
Next, steps are taken to minimize the symptoms of allergies. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use eye drops. Even basic ones help to wash allergens out of the eyes. If your allergies are too severe for OTC drops, your optometrist at Sites Vision Clinic will likely give you a prescription version. Prescription eye drops contain active ingredients like antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers (an advanced form of antihistamine), corticosteroid drops, and more.
Contact Us Today for an Appointment
Each form of eye allergy medicine works a bit differently from the other, so it's important to go to an optometrist in Elkton & Clarksville to get the one that is best for you and your eyes. This will let you get effective treatment quickly while minimizing the chances of side-effects.
To make an appointment here at Sites Vision Clinic, just call us today at (931) 647-5237.