Eye allergies are among the most common medical complaints in Cincinnati. It’s estimated that 30-50% of Americans experience allergy symptoms, and 3 quarters of those have symptoms in their eyes. But just because eye allergies are common doesn’t mean that you have to live with discomfort. Your optometrist can make a big difference in how you manage your condition and help you enjoy the world around you.
Eye Allergy Symptoms
Eye Allergy Causes
Seasonal allergies start early in Cincinnati
Early march - tree pollen
May - grass pollens
July - weed pollens
August - ragweed
Chronic allergens: contact lens issues, pet dander, dust mites
What Are Some Causes of Eye Allergies?
When you are exposed to an allergen, cells in your eyes called mast cells release histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation. This is where the itching, redness, and watering come from.
Seasonal eye allergies in Cincinnati are most commonly caused by pollen and mold spores. Perennial allergies are often caused by dust mites and pet dander. Short-term allergic reactions can also occur if exposed to something you are sensitive to such as makeup or perfume.
Will Over-the-counter Products Work?
Yes, sometimes all you need is an over-the-counter solution and simple lifestyle changes. If you are struggling with allergy symptoms and discomfort of the eye, especially for the first time, we also recommend visiting your eye doctor. In some rare cases, people are also allergic to certain kinds of eye drops. Talking to an eye doctor will also be beneficial if it turns out that your lifestyle adjustments and OTC medications just won’t do the trick and bring your eyes relief; in these cases, we along with your primary care team may prescribe stronger medicines or refer you out for allergy shots to help.
Are some times of the year worse for allergies, or is the whole year a problem?
For some people, it is seasonal, particularly with Cincinnati being humid and in a river valley. For others, it is all year round if they have contact lens issues or are sensitive to pet dander or dust mites.
What type of treatment options are available for patients that come in to see their optometrist with eye allergy symptoms?
If over-the-counter treatment does not help, drops can be prescribed. There have been some encouraging advancements with prescription drops. The type of drop depends on the severity of the allergies. If severe it can be treated with a short-term mild ocular steroid drop to help quickly relieve the symptoms. Many times the symptoms can be maintained with a long-term mast cell stabilizer/antihistamine combination drop once a day.
Is it possible to wear contact lenses without causing additional discomfort?
Yes, the best option for contact lens wearers would be daily disposable contact lenses. Each day you put on a new pair and this helps decrease the allergens in the eyes. This is sometimes done in conjunction with a prescribed drop once a day to control the symptoms.
Can you provide general recommendations that may help people suffering from Eye Allergies?
Obviously, if you know what the cause of the allergy is try to stay away from it as much as possible. For severe or painful eye allergies, please visit your doctor immediately. Cool compresses help decrease the symptoms of itching and artificial tears kept in the refrigerator can also provide soothing/cooling relief.